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Career Fairs: The Classroom-Career Connection

The entire Virtual Employer Session can be found in Handshake, TROY's career management system and job posting network.

The entire Virtual Employer Session can be found in Handshake, TROY's career management system and job posting network.

When Barney Brownlee III (Trey) was trying to decide where to go to college, finding a place where he felt he could truly belong was on his wish list. He found that at TROY.

“The driving factor that led to my decision to be a Trojan was the university culture that resides at Troy University. The staff prides itself in knowing the students by name and not by number and making the campus as a whole ‘feel like home.’”

TROY did a great job helping Brownlee answer the question, “What do I do with my life?” and preparing him for his future dream career in banking. He graduated in 2020 with a degree in financial economics. “The financial economics degree path covered classes such as bank management, managerial finance, and accounting which I now use on a daily basis. The bank management class laid the foundation for my entrance into the banking world and classes such as financial institutions helped me to better understand the different types of firms in the financial services sector of the economy,” he says.

How to Pick a Career Path is Just the First Step

When his time in the classroom was nearing completion and it became time to think about finding a job, Brownlee did what most job seekers do — he pounded the pavement, albeit, digitally. “I submitted online applications off of several different job sites and through Troy University’s online job portal. Additionally, I utilized apps such as LinkedIn and capitalized on prior professional relationships to secure some in-person interviews.”

When a TROY email alerted Brownlee to a virtual career fair organized by Career Services, he took advantage of the opportunity to attend. And that proved to be the winning ticket in making the classroom-career connection. “Attending a virtual information session was different from any job fair type of event that I have ever attended but it went well and got the point across in an efficient manner,” recalls Brownlee.

It was there that Brownlee connected with his future, now current, employer, Community Bank. With that connection in place, he has started his banking career as a Management Trainee.

Find Your Dream Job — Virtually

Brownlee highlights the benefits of the career fair, for both sides. “It was convenient to attend the virtual information session, not only as a student but also for the employer. Even though the Community Bank staff members were employed in the Florida Coast division, they could attend the information session virtually from their offices.”

And that, says Fred Leopold, Coast Region Chief Lending Officer at Community Bank, Brownlee’s employer, makes it a win-win situation for the student and for an employer looking for new hires. “This has been an excellent tool, a great way to save time when you’re physically remote. It’s helpful and cost-effective.”

Community Bank, which is headquartered in Brandon, Mississippi, is a large community bank with 51 offices. Yet, without a branch location near TROY, the bank was not well known as a potential employer to TROY students. Events like the virtual career fair are helping to change that. Leopold says that not only are these sessions a great way for students to introduce themselves to employers, but they also allow companies like his to introduce themselves as a potential employer to TROY’s young talent pool. “Because our company is not very well known at TROY, I thought the info session would be a good starting place — a great first connection of who we are and what we do.”

Leopold created a YouTube video to introduce students to Community Bank and to encourage them to think about their future. “I thought this option (YouTube) was a more permanent place to be visible. I tried to intertwine in the intro video some education about careers available in the financial industry.” He used the video to encourage students to think about how to pick a career. “As you’re coming through school and as a business major, what do you want to do? What career path do you want to pursue? We’re about helping people be successful whether with us or with someone else,” says Leopold.

The virtual information session proved to be the perfect way of hiring for an entry-level job with the bank. “A position was open within our Management Trainee Program, which is a great opportunity for a person right after college,” says Leopold. “A great way to start your career!”

Leopold and Community Bank are eager to continue their relationship with Career Services at TROY as a way of maintaining their talent pipeline. “Our plan is to continue to be involved with TROY. We are always looking to build our team. We don’t operate in a physical location near the Troy Campus, so this is a way to make our brand known. If we can continue to build our brand — we’re always looking for good people.”

Continuing the Career Connection With TROY

Leopold firmly recognizes that TROY is developing “good people” in the classroom who become good employees down the line if they can make that important classroom-career connection. And Community Bank hopes to keep making that happen. “We know good, quality education is a foundation for good candidates. Community Bank would like to do career fairs, connect with professors to help with classes, become more known and connected with the school. I’m really pleased with the relationship we’ve developed.”

For both Brownlee and Leopold, the classroom-career connection made via the virtual information session proved to be exactly what both were looking for. “It’s hard in this pandemic world to make these connections. We connected with Trey all remotely. Trey is doing great. He has tremendous potential,” affirms Leopold.

For his part, Brownlee has one piece of good advice for his fellow Trojans who may soon hit the pavement in search of their dream jobs. “When you see the Career Services emails and events come through your notifications, make sure to take advantage of them!”

Please visit TROY’s Career Services page to learn more about the many career exploration, job skills, and job search support services available for students and to find out more about future career fairs and information sessions.

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