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Valparaiso University students try speed networking to find jobs

VALPARAISO — Would five minutes be enough time to impress a potential employer?

More than 50 Valparaiso University students got the chance to find out Friday, when they met with area business representatives in a speed-networking event held in the community room of the Christopher Center.

In all, about 20 employers from Northwest Indiana and Chicago signed up for the inaugural event, said Holly Simpson, assistant director of the university’s career center.

She got the idea from a conference she attended a few years ago; Michigan State University is doing something similar, because it’s a different way to develop career skills. A computer program matched the students with employers for the brief interviews.

Several of the employers were VU graduates, Simpson told the students as the event began, and could discuss the value of a VU education. “Students, this is an opportunity for you to learn as much as you can from these professionals,” she said.

Candace Hanson, who will receive a master’s degree in counseling in December, hoped to meet a few mental health employers in the area and cull some tips and feedback on networking.

The event, she said, served as part of her transition from school to the real world.

“I’ve been in school a long time. I’m really good at being a student, but I’m not good at being an employee,” said Hanson, who’s from Atlanta, Ga.

The five-minute format was new and seemed useful, she said, and could help students get over their nerves about the social aspect of networking.

Taking part in the speed networking was a way to give back to the university and scope out potential hires or interns from the talented pool of students at VU, said Ryan Sykes, vice president for strategic business development at AC Incorporated, an Internet marketing and advertising agency in Valparaiso.

“I think it’s fantastic,” he said. “It gives some of these students who are about to enter the job market an opportunity they might not otherwise have with so many employers in one room.”



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