Spotlight for Career Services Professionals
In 2015, St. Joseph’s University launched its International Career Conference to educate two groups of students about the opportunities available to them and the processes involved with reaching their goals.
“International students looking for employment in the United States and U.S. students looking for employment or experiences abroad tend to be focused on the jobs available, but don’t necessarily know the processes they need to navigate to get these jobs,” explains Lisa Hansinger, career counselor in the career development center at Saint Joseph's University.
“Our goal by holding this conference is to educate them about what they’ll encounter as they search for these jobs.”
The one-day conference spans six hours on a Saturday and features a networking session followed by several panel sessions, including:
- Personal and Professional Insights: Securing an Internship or Job in the U.S.
- Personal and Professional Insights: Seeking a Career Path with an International Component
- Work/Teach/Volunteer Abroad
- International Fellowships & Research Opportunities
- International Alumni Experiences
“Each session has at least three panelists, who are a blend of students, alumni, recruiters, and others,” Hansinger says. “These are successful people sharing their experiences with international employment and employers that hire international students sharing critical information.”
In addition to the panels, there was a session titled “U.S. Immigration and Employment: Building Effective Strategies for Short- and Long-Term Employment in the U.S.” that was presented by an immigration attorney.
The conference loosely has two tracks—one for each of the two targeted groups of students.
“We match the sessions up against each other or so students could choose their track,” Hansinger notes. “This year, the split of students who attended was about 65 percent international and 35 percent U.S. students.”
Two aspects contribute heavily to the success of the International Career Conference. First, partnering with the St. Joseph’s University center for international programs and the office of graduate and adult student life allowed the career center to incorporate different perspectives into the programing and extend the reach for marketing the conference.
“We also had a representative from Student Inclusion and Diversity,” Hansinger says. “They all brought different perspectives about the needs of their populations, and their ideas were valuable when considering session topics and who to include on the panels.”
The second was moving the networking session from the end of the conference—as was the case the first year—to the start of it the second year.
“We moved the networking session to the beginning of the day and it worked much better,” Hansinger explains. “We felt that it would set the tone for the whole day. It did and it helped make the students comfortable.”
Overall, the conference has been a success. Students have given it high marks for learning how to use their education and experience to gain work experience in the United States or abroad, and for gaining information that will help them clarify their personal, educational, and/or professional goals.
“The International Career Conference brings together two groups of students with a universal focus,” Hansinger says. “Getting them together in one place and giving them the opportunity to learn from each other and from others is really valuable, and will help them navigate the processes to achieve their goals.”