College students are told that the way to find a job is to build a network of professional contacts before you graduate. However, students not only struggle with understanding how to effectively build a network of professional contacts, but also with the concept of what to do with those contacts once they have made them.
The Career Development Center at the State University of New York College at Buffalo (Buffalo State College) came up with a solution to the networking dilemma: a special dinner they host each November. The event is called “Manners Matter” and puts students at tables with leaders from the community to talk over dinner about skills needed to be successful after graduation. For the last three years Andrew Kornacki, a public affairs officer with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), has attended the event and coached students on the do’s and don’ts of social media.
“What an honor it has been to have the opportunity to interact with community leaders and representatives of student organizations on campus,” said Kornacki. “I enjoy talking to them about social media and my job. I find that many students today are just not aware of the benefits of working for the federal government, so this dinner provides an opportunity to spotlight USACE as a great employer.”
USACE Buffalo District has partnered with a wide array of schools and colleges in recent years to develop and recruit the next generation of employees.
“I explain to the students that USACE has the brightest and most capable minds doing extraordinary work, and that our mission is not possible without our people,” said Kornacki. “The Corps of Engineers features robust career development and many employee recognition programs. This makes it very inviting to the students.”
Key goals of the USACE has been to spread the word about innovative human resource programs, such as Pathway Internship programs, and to building strong STEM leaders to prepare for tomorrow.
“Women, African Americans, and Latinos are underrepresented in STEM fields,” said Kornacki. “Diversity is vital to economic vibrancy and innovation. Taking part in the event helps to connect USACE with a diverse population, ultimately adding them to the pool of talent from which we recruit. The students leave the dinner not only having a better understanding of the impact social media can have on an employer’s hiring decisions, but also leave with a better understanding of what USACE does, and why it’s an employer of choice.”