Western Washington University works to prepare students for post-graduate careers through career development workshops offered year-round.
Career development workshops, sometimes called professional workshops, are an opportunity for Western students to develop their professional skills and personal brand interactively.
“I think it's important to offer students resources. As a career center and university person, I feel it's really important to find the spaces where there are gaps in learning and fill those spaces with opportunity,” said Aimee Tejeda-Lunn, employer relations manager for the Academic Success and Career Center at Washington State University.
Workshops at Western are hosted by various departments including Career Services, the College of Business and Economics and Western’s MBA program.
Some topics include building LinkedIn resumes, elevator pitches, creating personal brands, using Photoshop, Handshake tutorials and more. The wide-ranging topics are taught by an equally wide range of instructors, from professors to industry experts and even fellow students.
Hiring opportunities occur year-round, but at the beginning of the calendar year it becomes increasingly important for students to be prepared for the job application process in its entirety.
“Participation in workshops helps ensure that students are ready for the hiring season, especially when unexpected opportunities present themselves,” said Britta Eschete, the event coordinator at Western’s Career Services Center, in an email.
These unexpected opportunities can include learning about internships, jobs and job interviews.
Western third-year Emily Heiser, president of the Student Marketing Association, has hosted and participated in these workshops. Heiser thinks workshops are a great compliment to coursework by helping students develop soft skills – nontechnical skills like communication and adaptability.
“You don’t get to learn these skills in your classes. You don’t learn how to network, you don’t learn how to present yourself to employers,” Heiser said.
Ellie Potts, an MBA student at Western, has participated in some of the workshops hosted by the MBA program. Potts said the workshops have given her “eye-opening” experiences when it comes to soft skills.
“It’s like an indirect benefit because I feel more excited to work with my group mates and I feel like I communicate with them better. That doesn’t necessarily come out to be better-measured projects, it just means that maybe I enjoyed it more or we worked more effectively and efficiently together,” Potts said.
Soft skills can be considered transferable skills. They can be naturally possessed or they may be learned from opportunities like these workshops. For hiring season, these skills could allow for new opportunities like getting a job out of your major or returning to school to pursue a new career.
They aren't skills that will be left when you leave an organization and can be taken with a student throughout their careers as they grow according to Carmell Emory, Career Services Manager for the MBA program and instructor in the marketing department at Western
Tejeda-Lunn said transferable skills that can be learned or highlighted at workshops are an important asset when it comes to getting hired.
“A lot of employers are super wide in regards to the things they're looking for. They're just looking for really awesome team members and sometimes it's those transferable skills,” Tejeda-Lunn said.
Most workshops hosted on campus are open to and encourage students of different majors and backgrounds to attend.
“Non-business majors are still going to need to enter the workforce at some point and communicate with people outside of the Western environment. So these types of workshops are essential for any student, or even non-students just to help them grow both personally and professionally,” Emory said.
Madison Linney (she/her) is a campus news reporter for the Front. She is a fourth-year BA marketing major with a minor in public relations. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with friends and family, going to the gym and exploring new places. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.