The fourth annual Career Boot Camp for sophomores employed a similar format of presentations, workshops and activities to the previous year, albeit with modifications. In response to previous student feedback, the program was shortened on the second day, eliminating the internship search and interview sessions, reflecting students' desire for less presentation and more active programming. The formal networking reception was also removed, in favor of extending small group networking activities and additional conversation with alumni and parent panelists. Finally, at a faculty member's suggestion, a young alumni panel was added to address specific issues and topics relating to immediate post-baccalaureate professional development, jobs, and graduate/professional school enrollment.
The industry panels remained largely the same, but some panels were combined due to lower student interest in previous years, e.g. health & medicine, government & law, science & technology, and nonprofit/education/arts.
In 2017, Career Boot Camp significantly more participants rated themselves as having "a great deal" or "a fair amount" of initial knowledge and understanding of career skills/topics (e.g. positive/negative aspects of social media, communications skills valued by employers, networking techniques) than 2016, although they indicated only half as much skill in developing or using a LinkedIn profile. This probably reflects increased early engagement with Career Services by this cohort. As a result, higher-level activities will need to be planned in the future. The percentage of students expressing a "great deal" or "fair amount" of career skill knowledge/understanding after the program was comparable to the previous three years (generally in the 85-95% range) with the exception of the LinkedIn profile, which came in at 78%). While still high, percentages for skill acquisition in networking protocol declined (87% vs. 93%), as did talents valued by employers (90% vs. 96%), and communication skills valued by employers (85% vs. 94%), perhaps because students felt their prior knowledge was fairly solid.
Similar to the previous year, students offered a variety of responses regarding the most valuable aspect of the program as it related to their particular professional interests and career preparation needs. The most commonly cited aspects in order of frequency were: networking activities (luncheon, elevator pitch, networking with alumni in general), industry panels (overall, as well as specific examples), and the LinkedIn workshop.
2017 Sophomore Boot Camp By The Numbers
- 162 registrants (down from 179 in 2016—due in part to student illness/family conflicts)
- 37 Alumni/Parent Panelists
- 9 Industry Panels (business, communication, entrepreneurship, environment & sustainability, finance/banking, government, health/medicine, nonprofit & education, science/technology)
- 5 career skills presentations/panels (what employers want, networking strategies/elevator pitch, LinkedIn Use, Candidate/Resume, managing digital identity)
- 2 Networking Events (lunch & small group networking with panelists)
STUDENT EVALUATIONS (53% Response Rate)
Student description of knowledge and understanding of career skills and topics before/after Boot Camp:
KNOWLEDGE BEFORE KNOWLEDGE AFTER
Career Topic/Skill Great Deal Fair Amount Great Deal Fair Amount
Talents & experience employers
value in prospective candidates 7% 26% 51% 39%
The potential positive career/
professional impacts of social media 14% 21% 51% 43%
The potential negative career/
professional impacts of social media 40% 29% 63% 32%
The communication skills
employers expect 7% 37% 49% 36%
How to network
(Networking protocols and techniques) 7% 21% 49% 38%
LinkedIn profiles 1% 14% 39% 39%
Additional Student Reactions:
- 96% agreed/strongly agreed that the What Employers Want Panel was useful in learning how to present themselves effectively to an employer
- 7.4 mean (1-10 scale) for boot camp meeting their expectations (modal response was 8 out of 10)
- 83% said they would recommend the Career Boot Camp to classmates (16% “maybe,” 1% “no”)
New Questions for 2017
"As a result of having attended Bootcamp, how inspired or motivated do you feel to continue career exploration (internships), professional development and/or networking activities?"
Not at all 0%
A little 4%
Quite a bit 50%
Students were asked to list the two most important "take-aways" from the boot camp. In descending order of frequency:
Importance of Networking: 28
LinkedIn/Online Profile: 18
Importance of Elevator Pitch: 11
Importance of Getting Internship: 8
Handwritten/Email Follow-up: 6
Demonstrate Passion/Be Unique: 5
Importance of Tailored Resume: 5
Also mentioned were: quality of campus involvement, getting an early start, learning new career paths, value of liberal arts in workplace, asking questions in interviews, having career confidence, the unwritten rules of the workplace, and taking time off before grad school.