Conference to help students launch into the working world

Amy Swanson, Staff Reporter

Students are invited to learn how to prepare for life after college at the Student to Professional Conference on March 3.

From 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., attendees will get the chance to hear from experienced individuals on a variety of career-related topics, discussing the skills needed to succeed in today’s professional world.

Held in the Banquet Rooms of the Oakland Center, the conference will be free and open to all Oakland University students. It’s an annual event that has been held the last seven years.

Olivia Snyder, communication and marketing intern for the Student to Professional Conference, has worked diligently to rebrand and market the event as more fresh and appealing to students.

She said all majors and class standings can benefit from what will be taught during the sessions.

“[Attendees] will have a chance to learn all of these things from skilled professionals from our local community, so it is a great chance to make connections that could one day land you a job as well,” Snyder said.

John Cebelak is another member of the steering committee that organized the conference.

“As an academic adviser in the First Year Advising Center, I regularly receive questions from first-year students about their prospective career options and paths,” he said.

Cebelak reflected on his own experiences, as it took a while for him to find the right career path. This led him to his best advice: explore different opportunities and be receptive to insight from those who care. He wishes he had attended something similar to the Student to Professional Conference as an undergraduate student.

“The uncertainty of life after college is scary for a lot of students, and the [Student to Professional] Conference is designed to help not only ease the transition from college to the ‘working world,’ but to prepare students for success in the ‘working world’ once they graduate,” Cebelak said.

The first 200 registered students to attend will receive a free shirt, professional notebook and tote bag. Business casual apparel is recommended.

To sign up, visit

The schedule

The conference will begin with an hourlong employer networking event. Students can practice their networking skills by speaking with representatives from Quicken Loans, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Sedgwick and the Oakland University Credit Union.

Lunch will be provided at noon, during which the keynote speaker, David McGhee, will present. An OU alumnus, McGhee joined the Association of Fundraising Professionals and is now the program director leading its youth development strategy.

The rest of the day breaks down into three sessions, each offering three or four different presentations for students to choose from. 

Session One

During session one, which begins at 1:20 p.m., students can attend “A Complete Guide to Graduate School,” which will discuss how to apply to, pay for and transition into grad school education.

In “Can You Afford Your Job? The Hidden Costs You Need to Know,” Greg Jordan, director of University Recreation and Well-Being, will discuss the factors students should consider if they think they may be paying too much in hidden costs.

Students can also attend a “Job Search Crash Course”, given by Paloma Shah, senior campus and corporate recruiter at Rehmann.

“Secrets to Career Success for Millennials” will discuss how to successfully transition from a college student to a professional. It will be led by recent graduate Stephen Parker, Street and Racing Technology powertrain engineer and OU recruiting team lead at FCA Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

Session Two

The second session begins at 2:10 p.m. with “Dear Stress, Let’s Break Up: Managing Stress in the Workplace.” Becky Lewis, assistant director of programs for OU Rec Well, will instruct on different health and fitness techniques to keep cool.

Over 80 percent of today’s jobs are scored through networking, according to the Career Services website. Students can take advantage of expert advice during “Networking 101: It’s Not What You Know, But Who Knows You,” run by Kevin Mill and Chris Griffin of Keller Williams.

Students can also discover their personal interview styles with Jeff Kalinowski, lead for world class manufacturing communications at FCA Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, in “Impactful Interviewing: Make an Impression that Lasts.”

Session Three

Starting at 3:10 p.m., the third session gives attendees a chance to hear from past OU students during “Young Alumni Panel: What REALLY Happens After Graduation.”

Or, they can learn how to capitalize on what Career Services calls “the most popular professional social networking site of today” at “How to Write a Stellar LinkedIn Profile: Your Virtual Resume” with Jesi Foltz-Goike, lead executive recruiter for Target.

A “Resume Lab” will also run during the third session. A maximum of 10 students can have their resume reviewed by experts on a first-come, first-serve basis.