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ODI event gives students tips on turning “Backpack to Briefcase”

Students get career-ready tips from Bradley alumni. Screenshot by Sam Mwakasisi.

Bradley’s Spring Job and Internship Fair occurred this past Tuesday, and while students may have already prepared extensively, there was an opportunity in the days leading up to receive some vital tips.

In anticipation of the fair, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI) held an hour-long event entitled “Backpack to Briefcase,” inviting several managers from Enterprise to speak on how students could optimize their internship and job prospects both in and beyond the fair.

The event centered around a presentation by talent development manager Krista Barrett with the help of coworker and area rental manager Brandon Brinner, both of whom are Bradley alumni.

ODI executive director Norris Chase hosted the event and stated that Bradley had collaborated with Enterprise on the event several times before but benefited particularly from last week’s choice of speaker.

Bradley alum and campus recruiter, Krista Barrett, hires Bradley students for internships and full-time positions, according to Chase.

“With over 23 years of experience in corporate, Ms. Barrett’s charisma, knowledge and commitment to helping the next generation made her a perfect presenter … as well as an amazing partner for the Office of Diversity and Inclusion,” Chase said in an email interview.

Barrett opened her talk with advice aimed specifically at the fair, including researching companies of interest ahead of time, creating an elevator pitch, looking presentable and being proactive about following up after an interview. She highlighted flexibility with the new virtual setting of the job hunt as the key on both ends of the process.

“We’re just as intimidated by all of this stuff as the students are — this is new to us,” Barrett said. “I’ve been recruiting for 10-plus years; I would much rather be in person.”

Brinner then took over to discuss how to prosper in life after Bradley, breaking the topic down into three points. He advised students to “out-work” their competition by putting in time and generating results, “out-grind” them through resilience in finding an upper hand, and “out-shine” them via releasing nervousness and letting their personality show for interviewers.

He emphasized the importance of standing out from the corporate crowd by drawing on a pattern he’d seen over the years among newly-graduated employees who believed that they deserved rewards at higher amounts — and at a faster rate — than they could show work for.

“I became an assistant manager at 14 months within [Enterprise],” Brinner said. “Now these days … people want to take that step at month three. It’s because they feel that, ‘Yes, I am highly valued,’ but what on paper can you [use to] prove that that value is there?”

He further used the hypothetical comparison of parents who always put their children’s drawings on display to drive home a self-made saying.

“What most people don’t realize is that when you do come out of college, and you get into real-life corporate America, not everybody’s artwork can go on the fridge,” Brinner said.

He specifically pointed to personality traits, such as being funny or charismatic, as a factor that often takes students where resumés and GPAs may not reach.

Brinner then stepped backward to have those in attendance consider the wider question that influenced his talking points: what do they plan to do if everyone wants what they want? He proposed that this mentality could put the students’ place in their career in perspective and give them an edge.

Barrett added to this by sharing something that benefited her job-seeking greatly as a Bradley student: finding applicable skills in experiences through organizations.

“Absolutely get involved on campus, and don’t ever be afraid to talk about that in the interview process,” Barrett said. “Show them how the skills you learned as part of that organization translate into real life.”

Brinner left with a final piece of advice: to make wise choices in the context of the workplace and not get distracted by entertainment or social media.

“When it’s all said and done and do you miss an opportunity, and you have that regret, the regret is just not worth the extra effort that you could’ve put in to get where you wanted to go,” Brinner said. “You make the choices consciously every day to push yourself forward.”

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