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Beyond the Classroom
The Huntsville Item
It's a job not many professors would even consider tackling, but one that most students wish they would. It takes an investment of time, effort and genuine interest in the future of students - all of which one Sam Houston State University professor does.
SHSU business professor Charles J. Capps III, a lifetime senior professional in human resources, sets his students on the path toward a promising future by leading them to potential job opportunities.
"I just give them leads," he said. "I am like the man who stands at the intersection of the road directing them to go this way or that way."
Through an informal Bearkats in Business network, Capps' past students tip him off to potential job opportunities, which are passed on to his current students and recent graduates.
"I try to raise my students like Aggies, to take care of one another and help each other out," Capps said.
When Adam Iselt, a former student and current Hertz employee, was looking for a job following graduation in December 2001, Capps gave him several leads.
"When I went to him, he busted out with a stack of business cards to help me out," Iselt said. "And I started to copy down the information and he said he would make it a little easier by making copies of them for me."
The contacts Capps gave Heath Garmon, a former student and branch manager of the Katy Woodforest National Bank, allowed him to gather information about companies and break the ice going into his interviews.
"Actually, when I interviewed at Woodforest, I was interviewed by one of his former students," Garmon said. "So, that really helped break the ice because we could talk about his class - something we had in common."
Capps said he is just acting as the hub of a communications wheel, coordinating the efforts of job seekers and former students.
"Sometimes I have former students or companies call me and tell me they are looking for a specific type of person," Capps said. "I try and help out the companies and my students."
Capps makes it clear to all of his students that he wants each to be employed within a month of graduation. Those who need assistance can come to him anytime, Iselt said.
"He let it be known that his door was always open to anyone who needed help," Garmon said. "The offer was open to all of his students, not just a select few."
In the classroom, Capps teaches his students how to research companies and the marketplace so they will know what to expect, Iselt said.
"If the students can do a rough or strategic audit of a company, it is usually enough to get them through an interview," Capps said. "And the interviewer will know you did your homework if you can discuss issues with them intelligently."
Since implementing the skills Capps taught them in the classroom, his students have seen positive results.
"It really gave us a heads-up," Garmon said. "It gave us a basic understanding that ended up helping us out a lot."
However, Capps went beyond the classroom setting by arranging sessions to build resumes and interview skills.
"That's what a candidate needs, to come into an interview more informed than the other candidates," Capps said. "That's what makes them stand out."
Garmon said Capps acted as a mentor by teaching him the skills he needed in the interview process.
"He taught us the dos and don'ts on interviewing, different techniques and some psychology," he said. "He gave us good questions to throw out there to show we knew about the companies."
Students are also given a forum to search for job opportunities through the business career fair that Capps created several years ago.
"During the career fair, Dr. Capps knew almost every recruiter that was there," Iselt said. "We walked around and he introduced me to a lot of the people and gave me a lot of good contacts."
And his support continues through the hiring process, Garmon said.
"Once the offers started coming in, we laid them out and went through the pros and cons of each," he said. "But Dr. Capps never told me that one was better than the other or anything. He let me choose for myself. And when I chose to accept the position at Woodforest, he told me he thought I had made the right decision."
One former student said Capps is helping her find another job that better fits her personality.
"Charlie (Capps) knows the personality of his students and always suggests positions and companies that they are more apt to be successful and happy at," said Lynette Young, a former student. "So, when he suggests something, students should listen. It may not be what you have planned on, but in the long run he has your best interest in mind."
When Young called, she said Capps immediately gave her a contact for another job.
"Right away he gave me a name and e-mail address of someone to contact," she said. "He also referred me to several companies that his former students work for and love."
Garmon said having Capps as an ally helped him make it through a process he had never been through successfully before.
"Dr. Capps goes above and beyond of what I expected of my professors," Iselt said. "He was always there for me and helped me out."
Through this process of support, Capps' informal network continues to grow, giving current students and graduates access to jobs. They in turn will later turn around and make their contributions to the system.
"That's what he would talk about a lot in his classes," Garmon said. "He said he was willing to help and he wanted nothing in return. He just told us to take the time to talk to his students if they ever called."
Capps said by helping his students through the difficult task of finding their first job he is just trying to finish his job.
"I don't feel that our job at Sam Houston State is done until the student has graduated and goes to work, and that's why I try so hard to get them placed out there in the job market," he said.
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