Current juniors have the opportunity to connect with local businesses at the Career Center’s Rising Senior Dinner on March 19 to get hired after graduation and be stress-free in finding a job right away.

The event began the spring semester of 2008. Xuchitl Coso, director of career development, wanted to reach out to juniors and give them resources for when they graduate.

“I think when you’re finishing your junior year, senior year is crazy, and there’s so much coming at you, you want to enjoy everything,” Coso said. “…we wanted to say, ‘Hey, the Career Center is here for you, we have these different resources.’ In a year, you’re going to either be in the real world working, or in a graduate program, so the vehicle we used was a dinner.”

The dinner focuses on etiquette and dressing for success.

It encourages students to dress professionally. Suits and slacks are recommended for men, business dresses or slacks and a nice blouse for women.

A speaker guides the students on topics such as business and dining etiquette, there is a fashion show and alumni attend to share his or her experiences.

At each table at the dinner, six students are matched up with two representatives from a Lakeland company.

Students are matched up with a business in his or her field to sit and converse with at the dinner.

The earlier a student RSVP’s, the more likely he or she will be paired up with the right business to make connections.

There are conversation starter questions on the table to put the students at ease and make the night run smoothly.

Coso invites companies to attend the event to donate, or non-profits to give out prizes.

Corporate partners donate money to the college to go towards career development grants.

This year’s partners include Auto-Owners Insurance, TD Bank, The Ledger, Geico and WellDyneRx.

“Students can apply for a grant to attend a conference or a workshop…and they can get up to $500,” Coso said.

It is encouraged for students to take advantage of such Career Center resources.

“Networking is the number one way to find jobs,” Coso said.

The most important part of the dinner is for students to network with local business and learn business etiquette.

Even if a student does not plan to get a job at a business outside of his or her field, it is important to practice these social skills to network and work his or her way up.

“I think that’s what’s kind of interesting is that so many companies look for all kinds of different majors,” Coso said. “If you’re good at what you do, and they like you, and you want to give it a shot, I think that’s what makes it so nice.”

For example, a student might be an Accounting major, wishing to work for a bank and, eventually, a larger company.

If that student is paired up with a representative from The Ledger, that may not be the exact company he or she is looking for, but can still take away some networking from the dinner, or a part-time job.

“There’s different ways that I get a variety of fields here,” Coso said. “You’re networking, you’re creating connections, you’re introducing yourself to these individuals.”

Students will receive a bag with giveaways at the end of the dinner, such as portfolios and coupons.

Dillard’s has been a major sponsor for the past two years, creating a basket for the students.

The Rising Senior Dinner will take place on March 19 at 6 p.m. in the Thrift Alumni Room.

Students should be sure to check his or her mailbox for an invitation and RSVP by March 14.

It is encouraged for students to RSVP at the Career Center as soon as possible to be placed at a good table with a business in his or her field.


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