The fifth annual Career Boot Camp for sophomores employed a similar format of presentations, workshops and activities to the previous year, once again with some additions and modifications. The program kept its shortened second day and added an alumni presentation on financial literacy (including credit and retirement planning). Resumes were once again tailored to student needs, and the internship search workshop was brought back for students who already had robust resumes.
The industry panels remained largely the same, and the combined panels (science & technology, health & medicine, public policy/public service, nonprofit & education) were well attended, despite weather- and travel-related delays and obstacles.
Even more than in 2017, significant numbers of 2018’s Career Boot Camp participants rated themselves as having "a great deal" or "a fair amount" of previous knowledge and understanding of career skills/topics, e.g. talents & experience employers value (48% to 33% in 2017) positive aspects of social media (45% vs. 35%), negative aspects of social media (79% to 69% in 2017), communications skills valued by employers (57% vs. 44% in 2017), and networking techniques (48% vs. 28% in 2017). This represents a more “early-engager” mentality among Boot Camp attendees (if not the sophomore class in general) and highlights the need for both more nuanced and more sophisticated programming.
Students also indicated they had increased prior knowledge of LinkedIn, although the overall percentage was much lower (22% vs 15% in 2017). The new presentation on Financial Literacy showed 42% of students reporting “a fair amount” and 27% “a great deal” of knowledge after the program, vs. 23% and 8% respectively prior to the program.
Given the apparent high prior numbers, unsurprisingly the percentage of students expressing a "great deal" or "fair amount" of career skill knowledge and/or understanding after the program was in the 90-95% range (comparable to or higher than previous years), with two exceptions: LinkedIn and Financial Literacy. Because those students started out with lower combined numbers for “a fair amount” and “a great deal” of prior knowledge (LinkedIn 22%; Financial Literacy 31%), their post-Boot Camp combined percentages were lower (Linkedin 87%; Financial Literacy 69%).
The increased prior knowledge numbers likely indicate an increased interest in and exposure to career and professional development by students through Career Services programming and/or other influence (e.g. peers, parents). Going forward, it is clear there will be smaller numbers of students participating in “from scratch” workshops and activities and more nuanced and higher-level activities (e.g. targeting specific internships, tailoring individual networking appeals and fine-tuning existing professional profiles) according to students’ changing needs and expectations.
Similar to the previous year, students offered a variety of responses regarding the most useful/interesting aspect of the program as it related to their particular professional interests and career preparation needs. As with 2017, the most commonly cited aspects in order of frequency were: networking activities (luncheon, elevator pitch, networking with alumni in both formal and informal venues), industry panels and professional development presentations, and the LinkedIn workshop. The Young Alumni Panel was specifically noted for its attention to diversity.
Selected Student Quotes About Their Experience:
“I learned to be less intimidated when reaching out to alumni and/or possible employers. I also learned the importance of reaching out to many different job opportunities and be[ing] open to all categories in the working world.”
“It is important to plan and be aware of your finances from an early age and that there are many sites that SLU has portals on which can help connect you to alumni in various fields to finds jobs or internships.”
“I am much more confident in the ways I can present myself to employers through honing my speaking abilities in things such as the elevator pitch. I feel I learned a lot about my online presence and am excited to expand my LinkedIn profile and use Handshake.”
“SLU alumni WANT to network with us! Reaching out to them is a huge resource. And don’t be afraid to put yourself and your accomplishments out there for employers to see.”
“I will get a job and I'm currently doing the right things to get me there.”
[The main things learned in Boot Camp] “1) Follow what you love and learn to monetize your interests instead of going after a job solely for monetary gain 2) Get an internship! 3) Be confident, original, authentic, and determined.”
“There are a wide range of careers that stem from each field, so majoring in one thing is not going to box you into one career path for the rest of your life. Also, the more experience the better, no matter how diverse.”
2018 Sophomore Career Boot Camp By The Numbers
- 178 registrants (on par with highest ever; actual participants closer to 150 due to severe weather/illness)
- 40 Alumni/Parent Panelists registered (up from 37 in 2017); 32 attended (weather/travel issues)
- 9 Industry Panels (business, communication, entrepreneurship, environment & sustainability, finance/banking, public policy and public service, health/medicine, nonprofit & education, science/technology)
- 7 career skills presentations/panels: What Employers Want, Networking Strategies/Elevator Pitch, LinkedIn Use, Candidate/Resume, Managing Digital Identity, Young Alumni Panel, Internship Search (returning), Financial Literacy (new)
- 2 Networking Activities (lunch & small group networking with panelists)
Sophomore Career Boot Camp/Professional Skill Development Outcomes
(55% response rate)
Before Boot Camp After Boot Camp
Student’s Knowledge & Fair amount Great deal Fair amount Great deal
Talents & experience employers 31% 17% 33% 60%
value in prospective candidates
The potential positive career/ 33% 12% 27% 63%
professional impacts of social media
The potential negative career/ 34% 45% 18% 75%
professional impacts of social media
The communication skills 35% 22% 37% 57%
Personal Finance 23% 8% 42% 27%
How to network 35% 13% 29% 66%
Developing/using 12% 10% 46% 41%
As a result of having attended Bootcamp 2018, how inspired or motivated do you feel to continue career exploration (internships), professional development and/or networking activities?
Not at all 1% 0%
A little 2% 4%
Somewhat 14% 11%
Quite a bit 53% 50%
Greatly 30% 35%
Additional Student Reactions
- 89% (down from 96% in 2017) said they “agreed” or “strongly agreed” that the What Employers Want Panel was useful in learning how to present themselves effectively to an employer
- 76% said they would recommend Boot Camp to their classmates (20% “maybe”; 3% “no”)
Positive recommendation numbers are somewhat lower this year (83% in 2017), and “maybe” (16% in 2017) and “no” (1% in 2017) are higher, possibly reflecting the fact that many students missed significant portions of the program (including much of the networking) due to weather-related travel issues
For the second year, students were asked to name the two most important "take-aways" from the boot camp. In descending order of frequency were:
Importance of Networking 30
Extend Self w/ Confidence 16
Elevator Pitch Importance 6
Also mentioned multiple times were: Social Media Profile Use, Need to Engage with Career Services, Resume Development, Awareness of Job Varieties, Writing Skills, Gaining Experience, Application Due Diligence, Financial Planning, and Work-Life Balance. Mentioned singly were: Getting An Early Start, Cover Letter, Following One’s Passion, Interview Preparation, and Graduate School Timing.