Stony Brook University’s Career Center is helping students build their brand so they can conduct virtual job interviews with self-confidence. Last month it teamed up with retail giant Target to offer a webinar featuring three interactive workshops.
The workshops, facilitated by Target experts and leaders, covered building a virtual brand, harnessing tools to create a best-in-class LinkedIn profile and tips to succeed in virtual interviews.
Students interacted with a panel of Target leaders, talking to them about their individual experiences and career paths.
“It was empowering to see successful people that looked like me hold prominent positions and work their way up to these positions,” said psychology major Joli Vidal ’22.
That sentiment was echoed by Cindy Baez ’23, another psychology major.
“It was inspiring to see a diverse group of people share how their path to their career was not easy or linear. One of the presenters shared the quote: ‘It’s not who you are that holds you back — it’s who you think you are not,’ which reminded me to never doubt what I am capable of and to be my biggest supporter.”
Each student received a virtual Target gift card to be used for a new, ready-for-work wardrobe.
In total, the workshops attracted 106 students from Career Center programs and other groups across campus, such as Delta Sigma Pi business fraternity, Diversity Professional Leadership Network, Educational Opportunity Program/Advancement on Individual Merit, Future Ready, Jewish Foundation for Education of Women and S-Stem Assets (Scholarships for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics: Academic and Social STEM Excellence for Transfer Students).
Of 73 students who responded to a survey about the webinar, the vast majority of them — 95. 5 percent — found it to be a positive experience.
“It was an immersive professional development experience for the students,” said Jia Wei Cao, career coach for Diversity Initiatives.
After reflecting on what they learned in the workshops, the students provided their own takeaways.
“This pandemic has greatly shaken my vision of the future, but speaking to professionals in the computer science field has renewed my goals and interest in going into that industry after college,” said environmental studies major Natalya Tulloch ’23. “I am a lot more positive now when thinking about my future, and I have a plan on how to achieve it.”
Navigating the pandemic was also on the mind of Vivica Michel, who graduated earlier this year with a degree in journalism.
“With the pandemic taking a toll on the job market, it has been disheartening to find a job. This event was just what I needed to help me get past obstacles,” she said. “With everything switching around to digital, especially interviews, it was nice to be able to get guided advice on the changes that I need to make.
Civil engineering major Mei Qi Yan ’23 said she found the LinkedIn workshop especially helpful.
“As someone who had no idea what to put on her LinkedIn, I really appreciated the Target presenters’ concise summary of what to do, notably the ins and outs of the perfect profile picture, what to fill in for the About and Experience sections, and how to find and maintain connections,” Yan said. “The concluding advice to stay active on Linkedin is something I’ve taken to heart.”
Anna Zhang ’22, a computer science major, said her big takeaway from the webinar is one all students should heed: “Don’t be limited to any specific career field. Take risks. Stay curious. Break boundaries. Grow!”
This event was made possible by the 2019/2020 Diversity Initiative Funding from Judith Brown Clark, Vice President of Equity & Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer in the Office of the President.
— Glenn Jochum