Today@Sam Article

SHSU Ranked First In Graduates Employed After Graduation

March 17, 2015
SHSU Media Contact: Julia May

Career Fair
Job fairs are among the many ways the SHSU Career Services Office helps students prepare for employment following graduation.

Graduates of Sam Houston State University are apparently in high demand in the state’s workforce, according statistics recently released by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. 

Out of the 39 public universities listed, SHSU ranked first with the highest percentage of graduates employed in the fourth quarter in which the program year ends.  The data is collected from such sources as unemployment insurance wage records and the Federal Employment Database Exchange Service, among others.

Recommendations for hiring recent graduates may unwittingly come from the standard that has already been set by alumni, according to Pam Laughlin, director of SHSU’s Career Services.

“Employers are impressed with the skill sets and work ethic of their employees who graduated from Sam Houston State, and they want to hire more,” she said. “I believe also that it’s a testimony to the university’s excellent academic rigor and the preparation that our students receive to get them ready to join the workforce.”

The Career Services Office at SHSU offers a variety of programs to assist students with accessibility to employment, from freshman orientation to when they become alumni.

“Our job fairs are the most visible in terms of our programs,” Laughlin said.  “We have nine job fairs throughout the year.  It’s a very effective way for students to meet employers in one place, and it’s an efficient recruiting tool for employers, just in terms of cost and return on investment.  Often, the employers will follow up with interviews, either here on campus or at their own locations.”

Another way that SHSU helps students is by offering the Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator assessment and interest inventories early in their academic careers.  These can be taken through the Career Center and are also part of University 1301, the Introduction to Collegiate Studies course, which is a three credit hour, writing-enhanced elective for first-year students.

“Last summer, we began offering these to students attending orientation,” Laughlin said.  “Ideally, the incoming students have already taken the assessment and inventory before orientation and can meet with us for a group interpretation at orientation.

“It’s OK for students not to know their career paths at that age,” she said.  “In fact, many of them don’t for several more semesters.  However, it’s important that they know where the resources are to help them find their paths sooner rather than later.”

Other programs are in place to help students prepare for interviews. These include critiquing a resume; meeting with students one-on-one for mock interviews; or InterviewStream, a new online interview program.

“If they have access to a webcam and a microphone, they can log onto InterviewStream and select from thousands of questions relative to their academic discipline or long-term career goals,” Laughlin said. “Then they can have a practice interview, record it, and send it to Career Services or to a professor, or both, or even an alumnus who is employed in an organization so they can give some feedback.”

Career Services also operates the JOBS for KATS program, which is primarily for students who are still working toward their degrees.

“It helps the students because it connects them with the Career Center early and they can see the different resources we offer,” she said.

The Career Center also partners with other departments and programs on campus for presentations and panels on leadership development and civic responsibility and to offer advice and answer questions about on-the-job, real-life experiences.

One of Career Services' most popular and successful endeavors has been the annual business dining etiquette program, which features noted protocol specialist Diane Gottsman.

“This program focuses on dining etiquette—how to network, safe topics to discuss and those to stay away from, and how to be familiar with your host before you go to an event,” Laughlin said.  “It covers simple things like carrying your glass of tea in your left hand so that you won’t be offering a cold, wet hand to shake during introductions.

“Diane also teaches about communication at the dining table,” she said.  “That is very much a part of the interview process.  Employers want someone who can represent them well when meeting clients and associates.  She also talks about how to make sense of all the utensils that might be at a more formal setting.  She offers lots of information to help our students be more comfortable and confident.”

The Career Center is a busy place year-round, not just before graduation.  More than 8,900 people visited the center last year and approximately 2,225 students and alumni attended job fairs, where they met with almost 600 employers.

Laughlin is quick to point out that Career Services is just one of the integral pieces that work together for graduates to achieve success in employment after graduation.

“It’s not us alone,” she said.  “It’s our students’ work ethic and our excellent faculty and administrators who are very forward thinking and very much aware of what the workforce needs are.  We are working behind the scenes, but what we do is important and helps our students be better prepared.”

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