The culture and expectations in the Walker College of Business prepare students with soft skills that will help them succeed in the business world. A key expectation is preparation for and participation in Business Connections, the college’s signature career fair held each fall — and the Business Connections’ spring counterpart, Spring Connect.
A record number of students (1,221) attended the fall 2019 event, with more than 300 recruiters from 128 companies on hand to engage them with career and internship opportunities. In the past, Business Connections has been held in Peacock Hall, but, due to outgrowing available space, it’s now held in the Holmes Convocation Center.
The simple aim has remained the same: to connect students and employers.
“Employers from a variety of business backgrounds and industries come from all over the region for Business Connections,” said Jackie Garner, who coordinates the event. “It’s exciting for our students to have access to so many professionals and the opportunities they present without having to leave Boone, but it’s fun for the employers, too — many of whom are Appalachian alumni returning for a weekend in the High Country!”
Dean Sandra Vannoy said the college values the work in the business career services office because it helps serve both students and industry. "The career coaches are preparing Walker College graduates to 'hit the ground running',” she said. "The Walker College Dean's Club helps provide support for key initiatives like Business Connections."
The Business Connections event is typically held on a Thursday, with interviews the following day. To prepare students for those interviews and other opportunities presented during Business Connections, students are encouraged to participate in resume reviews and career fair boot camps in the weeks leading up to the event. BUS 2001, the college’s required one-credit-hour “soft skills” course, also plays a key part.
“We ask each student to look at who they are and want to be as a future leader — we frame it in the BB&T model that you can’t lead others until you know how to lead yourself,” said Michelle Boisclair, executive director of business career services in the BB&T Student Leadership Center.
Boisclair added that those in the college aim to bring business leaders to campus as often as possible. “Our faculty members do a phenomenal job of preparing our students academically, and Business Connections helps make the link between what they learn in the classroom and how they will apply that knowledge in the business world.”