Career Center hosts virtual “Work Like a Laker” conference


Courtesy / GVSU

Trevor Hubert, Staff Reporter

During the summer leading up to the fall 2020 semester, universities knew that they would be facing a brand new set of challenges as they moved into the school year. Among those challenges would be helping students and alumni find the jobs they came to college initially seeking out.

On the other end, employer demand is needed to tap into the supply of fresh candidates that GVSU sends into the workforce each year. The economic downturn has cut travel and recruiting budgets, and the pandemic has caused in-person career fairs to be put on hold. Considering all of this, the Work Like a Laker conference was born.

The series of virtual events began on Oct. 1 and ended with the virtual career fair Oct. 15. The GVSU Career Center estimates that 1,400 unique students and alumni made it to one of the 32 scheduled events.

The workshops covered a plethora of different topics to consider while on the job hunt. There were conversations about race, veterans entering the workforce, shifting to a virtual environment and applying for graduate school. Other sessions focused on specific industries, such as healthcare, hospitality, marketing and psychology.

The goal of the conference was to provide a space that could benefit students and employers alike, and the virtual setting provided new opportunities for both.

“The question we asked ourselves was ‘how can we help our employer partners?’” said Lisa Knapp, a GVSU Career Advisor who helped plan the event. “How can we replace what we’re losing and what they’re losing?”

One benefit of being virtual was being able to bring in speakers from all over the country. Special guests connected from places such as California and Texas. Had the conference been in-person, it’s unlikely that these guests would’ve been able to make the journey to GVSU.

GVSU Employer Development Manager Susan Proctor said the positive feedback on the event has been rolling in from the companies who made it to the career fair. Her hope is that the students who attended got as much out of it as the employers.

“The overarching theme that we always have in our minds is that a career is a journey, it’s a pathway”, Proctor said. “It’s never too early to start thinking about ‘what am I good at? Or what am I passionate about?’”

The Work Like a Laker Conference was such a hit that the Career Center is already discussing holding a similar event in February of 2021. For students that were unable to attend any of the events, several of the sessions have been recorded and posted on the GVSU website.