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HomeBusinessMontana State business college helps students develop networking skills

Montana State business college helps students develop networking skills

By Greg Cappis, MSU News Service

BOZEMAN — This semester, Montana State University’s Jake Jabs College of Business and Entrepreneurship held its first career symposium, a casual event intended to help students become comfortable talking to potential employers and collaborators.

About 300 students attended the event, which was held Feb. 12 in the Strand Union Building on the MSU campus. There, students had the opportunity to learn more about their academic disciplines and associated career opportunities and meet with about two dozen employers and community partners from local organizations. More than 35 faculty and staff contributed by helping to plan or attending the event, according to Brenda Truman, assistant dean of student services in the business college.

“I thought the well-attended event went really well,” Truman said. “The students’ feedback was overwhelmingly positive. They told us they gained useful, real-world experiences.”

The career symposium was the first networking event that Lucas Horvath, a first-year business management major, has attended. After attending workshops and talking with local business professionals, he said, “I’ve learned many skills tonight that I can use in the real world. I like that the university puts on events like this to grow our skills.”

After checking in and socializing for a few minutes over snacks, students were divided into different rooms according to their majors — accounting, finance, management and marketing. In the breakout sessions, advisers and faculty briefly discussed required classes and common options for students to add a second major, minor or certificate to their degree. For example, in the business management breakout session, associate professor Virginia Bratton discussed the simplest ways for management students to obtain a leadership certificate or entrepreneurship minor.

Students then attended one of four career education presentations, which covered networking, internships, graduate school and entrepreneurship.

Mariah Stopplecamp, director of MSU’s Bracken Center for Academic and Career Engagement, who ran the internship session, said she 42 students scheduled internship advising appointments with her during or immediately after her session.

In the networking session, students learned what networking means — essentially making a human connection — and discussed tips for making those connections with Andy Weas, a graduate assistant at Jabs and technology consultant. He encouraged the students to be curious and find real connections with others at networking events, even those that aren’t work related.

Finally, the students made their way to a ballroom, where local employers and faculty greeted them for a networking practice session. The students roamed the room, shaking hands and having short conversations with the more experienced businesspeople.

Neil Harris, chief financial officer of Easton Companies and an MSU alumnus, said he attended the event to strengthen his connection with the Jabs community and generally help the students. He hired an MSU student as an accounting intern last year, which he said went well.

“I enjoy talking about the topics the students are interested in,” Harris said. “If I can help guide them in any way and share my experiences, then I’m happy to do it.”

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