Career PREP Conference prepares students for future careers

Keynote speaker, Priya Ramesh M.S. '03.

For hundreds of Radford University students, the first Career PREP Conference was an important first step in netting the career of their dreams.

Held on Sept. 12 in Bondurant Auditorium and the College of Business and Economics, the conference offered students the chance to connect with alumni and find out what is expected of them when they leave campus.

The day's events began with a keynote presentation by Priya Ramesh M.S. '03, director of external communications for IBM, who stressed that success at school is not the only indicator of success in a career.

"Sometimes there is the tendency to come out of school thinking, "I know it all,'" Ramesh said. "But when you go into the workplace, you have to almost reboot yourself a little bit."

According to Ramesh, survival in the corporate and professional world is as much about vision, research, personality and networking as it is about book learning.

Ramesh's degree from Radford is in corporate and professional communication, but her message to students was universal, according to Josiah Ferguson, a senior business management major from Haymarket.

"She highlighted so much really useful information," Ferguson said. "Even though we're in different fields, she's a director, so she has a lot of experience dealing with employees, how they work and how they think."

The purpose of the conference was to prepare students for those additional challenges. In addition to Ramesh's presentation, attendees signed up for breakout panel sessions with alumni in a wide variety of fields, from the physical sciences to finance.


Radford University Alumnus Cesar Collantes talks about getting a job in the government sector during the Career PREP conference.

For Ferguson, the "Government" breakout session was his first destination, as he is interested in learning more about work with the Central Intelligence Agency.

"I'm actually getting the chance to speak with one of the panelists; he's the regional representative for the CIA," Ferguson said.

By uniting a diverse group of alumni, the conference ensured that students - representing the Colleges of Business and Economics, Science and Technology, and Humanities and Behavioral Sciences – received "tricks of the trade" most relevant to them.

Following two back-to-back breakout sessions, attendees once again came together for a networking hour, allowing alumni and students to further their conversations and share what they learned.

According to Jordan Kelly, a senior economics major from Danville, there was a lot to take in, but none of it was discouraging.

"I learned that your first job may not always be your dream job, but you just can't get discouraged by that," Kelly said. "If you work hard, you'll get there."

The Career PREP Conference was sponsored by the Career Center and the Colleges of Business and Economics, Humanities and Behavioral Sciences and Science and Technology. Organizers have already decided to repeat the successful affair in years to come.

"I think we have to," said Career Center Assistant Director Teresa Dickens. "This has been such a huge success and the students are already asking us about it. This is the first step for their future careers."

Sep 14, 2015