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Meet the Firm Event Representatives Share Insights

November 30, 2017, Franchesca Alejo

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The Business Placement Center (BPC) is working hard to prepare students for their business careers and connect them with potential employers. On Oct. 26, representatives from Banterra Bank, Enterprise, Hire-Level, First Mid-Illinois Bank & Trust, Northwestern Mutual, and Walgreens participated in the inaugural Meet the Firm event, speaking with students outside the BPC in Rehn Hall. Many of the business representatives were impressed by the questions students asked and the quality conversations that ensued. Among the representatives were two current SIU undergraduate students who are preparing for graduation in December.

Shane Carsrud has been with Banterra Bank for two years and serves as the assistant marketing executive for the Carbondale branch. He oversees some of the managers in the bank and is tasked with recruitment. As a recruiter, some of the traits that he likes to see in prospective employees include the ability to deliver good customer service, build relationships and commitment to building a career with Banterra.

Carsrud offered some advice to students as they move forward in the job search process.

“If you’re nervous during an interview, ask the recruiter questions. Get them talking about themselves because it breaks the ice and calms everyone down,” Carsrud said.

He also suggested that students who are proactive enough to go to these types of events should always bring a resume, even if the flyer or the event hosts do not say to.

“It adds a level of professionalism and proves how serious you are about your future,” he added.

Victoria Montgomery is a talent acquisition specialist for the Enterprise office in St. Louis and has worked for the company for five years. During her time at Enterprise, she has been promoted repeatedly.

“I have been lucky enough to have received four promotions, all in human resource-related positions. I really like what I do and I love working here,” she said.

Montgomery recommended that students get professional work experience while they are still in school because it is important to know how to interact and feel comfortable in a professional setting. She also stressed that students should have an internship at some point before graduating.

Kendra Alexander was one of the SIU students representing a company at the event. She works as a staffing specialist for Hire-Level, a firm which assists other companies with workforce management, staffing and payroll needs. Alexander is currently finishing up her bachelor’s degree in business management with a specialization in personnel management.

As a current SIU student, Alexander offered some feedback to help students succeed.

“Take advantage of SIU opportunities and services like those the BPC offers,” she said.

She stressed that how you carry yourself in the classroom is often tied to your success in the future.

“Reach out to professors and take a proactive approach in your education and your future… It’s good to be mindful of forging relationships with professors, especially in the last two years, since these are the people who will be writing your letters of recommendations,” she said.

Perhaps one of her most important pieces of advice had to do with how you can make a good impression on potential employers. She mentioned that at events such as Meet the Firm and career fairs, recruiters and representatives see different things based on how you present yourself.

“Take yourself seriously. Recruiters can tell which students are genuinely interested in the position and those that come up to the table because someone else told them to go,” Alexander said.

When asked how she could tell the difference she replied, “Those that are interested lead the conversation. They come prepared with questions and are genuinely interested in what you are saying.”

Megan Martin was the other current SIU student representing a company at the event. She works for Northwestern Mutual and is finishing up her bachelor’s degree in finance. She started as an intern and will continue her employment with the company after graduation.

She offered tips for the interview process and divulged what interviewers ultimately want to see from applicants.

“We look for a hardworking individual who is personable. It’s important for interviewers to be able to remember the conversation with an applicant because they want to know that you are someone they can get along with and work with. Conversation is a big part of that,” she said.

Since Northwestern Mutual advises clients about establishing and meeting financial goals, employees must show they are able to take on the responsibility of helping someone manage their finances. As a result, interviewers like to see professionalism in email and phone communication.

Martin had some words to placate those experiencing nervousness during interviews.

“Remind yourself that recruiters are people, too. Sit down with them and just have a conversation. Don’t overthink it,” she said.

Her final piece of advice was, “Don’t get so scared or nervous that you end up not being your genuine self.”

As evidenced by the positive feedback from participating companies and students as well as the quality advice representatives provided, the Meet the Firm Event proved to be a wonderful opportunity for College of Business students and local businesses.