Backpacks to Briefcases: Students Seek an Edge in Competitive Market for Young Professionals

Aug. 29, 2012


FLORENCE, Ala. – With today’s economy and unemployment rates, standing out from the crowd of job seekers is crucial. That’s the message Jennifer Smith, a career development coordinator at UNA, is stressing through a new program, Backpacks to Briefcases. The program will debut Sept. 17 in the UNA Performance Center, just weeks before the university’s annual Career Fair, when students meet with hundreds of local, regional and national employers. The Career Fair is scheduled for Oct. 9.

“Everything counts when you’re meeting a prospective employer, and for younger people just beginning their careers, it often takes training,” Smith said. “The idea behind Backpacks to Briefcases is to prepare these students for the interactions they’ll have with recruiters from many different companies at Career Fair next month.”

At Backpacks to Briefcases, students will hear from a variety of speakers on career topics such as professional etiquette, communication, body language, researching employers and being prepared with good questions. The program will also include simulation exercises, enabling students to practice their job-search skills with recruiters in a setting like the one they’ll experience at Career Fair. Recruiters from four local employers will participate in the exercises.

Backpacks to Briefcases is being co-sponsored by UNA Career Planning and Development and the Office of Student Engagement. The program will be followed by Resume Blitz Sept. 20, when students will have the opportunity to submit their resumes to career development advisers for editing and review.

“This is an educational process for students, but it’s also real world,” Smith said. “These students are preparing to present themselves to real employers seeking real professionals to begin real careers. We’re here to help them make the best first impression possible.”