Community Circles offers career help to GU students
Published: September 04, 2023
Author: Minh Do
Community Circles is a collaborative effort between Greenville University's Office of Career Services and Calling and the Office of Alumni Relations. Community Circles benefits students by providing career mentoring, internship opportunities, job shadowing, job leads, and networking. The organization is about connecting with a purpose, and Greenville University's Career & Internship Fair is a great place to see this concept at work.
Career & Internship Fair returned last Spring
GU's Career & Internship Fair has always served as an opportunity for students to gain a potential job and establish meaningful conversations with those in fields in which they have an interest. This year, the fair returned to a live event following the COVID-19 pandemic.
Brandon Downs, production director at Chapel Production, responded to an email invitation from Kelli Pryor, GU's Director of Experiential Partnerships. Chapel Production represents the production staff at The Chapel, a multi-site church in the Chicagoland suburbs that started in the mid-1990s. Brandon and his team traveled from Georgia to Greenville to join more than 50 businesses and organizations at the annual Career & Internship Fair last spring. Chapel Productions has a unique GU connection because two team members, Jesse Taylor '19 and Ricky Lewis '18, both graduated from GU. They were excited to return to campus, where their love of music, audio engineering, and production began.
Full circle moment
Several years ago, alum Caleb Loeppky '14 and previous supervisor of Chapel Productions attended the GU Career Fair and hired a student, Genesis (Martinez '20) Taylor, as a member of his communication team. He later brought on her husband, Jesse Taylor '20, as audio director. After a few years, Chapel Productions continued to grow and saw a need for expansion. Jesse recommended Ricky, who had experience in audio engineering, and he later joined as technical director. Fast forward to this year, Jesse and Ricky returned to campus in reversed roles in hopes of connecting with a future team member.
Community Circles and networking
Networking is crucial, and the power of conversation is the key.
What is critical is not how many people you have in your network but the conversations you have had with the people in your network. Students need to be able to connect with alums who share a mutual educational background and be able to learn from their experience.
Kelli shared a few thoughts about her work at GU: "I like to help build bridges between students and alumni so students can engage in conversation and build their network with other alums. Sometimes, a relationship happens organically without any initiation from outside influences, and that's the best part – seeing the connections grow naturally."
She also hopes that connecting students with alums allows for follow-up conversations: “Students often tell me, ‘I have never thought about it before, and they [alums] helped me see something that I didn't think of.’ Or even situations where students say, ‘Oh, the alum introduced me to their colleagues, who they thought would help me.’ All of these are examples of how relationships grow organically.”
Senior students may feel overwhelmed
The overwhelming feeling that senior students often face when they are getting close to graduation is inevitable. The pressure to determine their next step or career field is often daunting. However, students don’t have to feel that they are alone in that process, Kelli said. "It's always nice to know that our students have someone [alums] who has walked in their shoes and is happy to help answer questions, share ideas, and offer perspectives.”
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Many seniors will walk across the stage each year at commencement. If you want to mentor, share awareness, or help any graduates, contact Kelli at firstname.lastname@example.org.