‘Brand Yourself’ event brings self-marketing techniques to Lakers

GVL / Luke Holmes - Students line up for registration. The career fair was held in the Devos Place Thursday, Feb. 26, 2016.

GVL / Luke Holmes – Students line up for registration. The career fair was held in the Devos Place Thursday, Feb. 26, 2016.

Riley Collins

Students venturing into the modern workplace have many marks to hit when crafting a good personal “brand.” The concept of marketing oneself has evolved in recent years to mean everything from body language during an interview to carefully organizing a personal Facebook page.

Grand Valley State University’s Future Alumni Association (FAA) and Career Center hosted an event, “Brand Yourself,” Tuesday, Nov. 15 to help students get started seriously marketing themselves. The interactive workshop was free to attend and open to all majors and minors.

Its goal was to give students tips on how to make a good impression to employers both online and in person. When FAA president Kelsey Keipert reached out to students asking what they wanted in a new future alumni event, the response pointed heavily toward education on how to better market themselves.

“We were looking for both something to give the Future Alumni Association and students as a whole,” she said. “(We were) trying to give them something new, something they haven’t had before.”

The workshop paid special attention to subjects like social media and email etiquette, common interview questions, resumes and cover letters and professional dress. These subjects may seem simple, but can make the biggest impact on employers if handled well.

“The topics we cover can be very broad, but this gets into the specifics,” said Mary Dreslinski, vice president of the FAA.

Though social media etiquette may seem like a no-brainer, there are loopholes that allow employers to accidentally find old social media profiles like Facebook even after they’ve been deactivated. For this reason, “Brand Yourself” advisers encouraged students to Google themselves occasionally to make sure nothing has crept up on the internet that shouldn’t.

Talks also centered on common interview questions and strategies explaining how to answer them skillfully and truthfully. For many job candidates, the first interview is the most nerve-wracking and carries the most weight in the job hunting process.

“The interviewer isn’t there to intimidate you, though it may seem like it,” said Hanna Windberg, campus recruiter for Northwestern Mutual, a life insurance company. “If you’re there, they want to talk to you and are glad to have your time.”

Subjects were broken up and an adviser lead small group workshops for each section. There was also a professional photographer taking headshots for students who attended. Mini-workshops were followed by the opportunity for students to ask any questions they still had as well as interact with other attendees.

Asking questions was a common consensus among workshop advisers, all of whom are professionals in fields at GVSU or in the surrounding Grand Rapids area. It is important for job candidates to know exactly who they’re working for which means it’s fair to ask questions during interviews.

“This event gives students a straightforward way to get their questions answered in a casual environment,” Keipert said. “It gives them the chance to look at specific topics they think they need to improve on.”

If students have questions outside of interviews or regarding any job-related subject, they can go to GVSU’s Career Center. They, along with the FAA prepare events like “Brand Yourself” year round for students seeking to gain knowledge on job related topics.

For Keipert, Googling interview preparation doesn’t compare to having a trained professional there, looking students in the eye and giving them valuable advice.

Students who want to get involved on campus can also join OrgSync online to stay up-to-date on FAA events.