BYU career services professionals gather at conference in Las Vegas

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Director of Alumni and Career Services at BYU-Hawaii Mark Macdonald (left) speaks with a vendor about shared opportunities for BYU-Hawaii Alumni and Career Services. (Braden Lanham)

Career services professionals from colleges and universities across the nation gathered this week in Las Vegas for the 2017 National Association of Colleges and Employers conference and expo.

The National Association of Colleges and Employers hosts a conference each year to facilitate an intersection between career services professionals, college recruiters and education technology vendors.

The conference gives career centers the opportunity to investigate and qualify companies that offer tech products, according to Gayle Oliver who owns CareerEco, a digital service that connects students and alumni with employers and grad schools.

Oliver said the conference is a great opportunity for the company to share more about its solution to support career services workers.

“At the end of the day, it’s about letting people know that you’re there as part of their own equation to help them achieve their goals,” Oliver said.

Victoria Chapa is the director of marketing and communications for Symplicity, a market leader in the higher-education career services software industry. Chapa said the National Association of Colleges and Employers conference is their biggest event of the year.

“We see about 400-500 clients here, and this year we are rolling out some really exciting new updates, so we are trying to get the word out to our clients and to the market at large,” Chapa said.

Chapa said the mission of Symplicity is to make student success in careers a shared responsibility on campus — beyond the career services center alone.

With dedicated career services offices located in colleges across BYU campus, the university’s career services professionals showed up in force at the conference.

Representatives from BYU’s University Career Services the Business Career Center and the School of Communications career services office were all in attendance.

Reid Grawe, a Marriott School program director and career counselor to information systems students, attended the conference with the intent to connect with and invite employers to recruit at BYU.

“I go to the majority of the workshops where they are talent-acquisition focused because that’s where the employers go,” Grawe said. “I want to get an idea of how they are doing business and how we can better make our students attractive to them.”

Career services officers from Brigham Young University-Idaho and Brigham Young University-Hawaii were also in attendance.

Will Gierke manages marketing and events for the Internship and Career Services Office at BYU-Idaho. Gierke said his vision for students at BYU-Idaho is to help them know what they want to do, what their passions are and where they want to go in life. His office aims to give students the skills necessary to get there.
Gierke said the conference is an opportunity for professional development and he attended with hopes to find new tips and advice on how to improve his part of the office for the internships at BYU-Idaho.
“My favorite thing so far has been learning about branding our office; reaching out to students, having something that they can see immediately and know that is the career and services office,” Gierke said.
Mark Macdonald is the Director of Alumni and Career Services at BYU-Hawaii. Macdonald said the mission of the university is to help students prepare to provide leadership in the Asian Pacific.
“We succeed better at that mission when we have good people and good tools,” Macdonald said. “So we come to conferences like this to learn how to be better managers and to make sure that we have the right strategies and processes in place as well as the right technologies.”
Macdonald said the nice thing about higher education is it is a non-competitive environment, so everyone is happy to share how they are succeeding.
Next year’s National Association of Colleges and Employers conference and expo will take place June 5-8 in Riverside, Louisiana.
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