Since its Ribbon-Cutting Celebration just over a month ago, students have entered the brand new Tom and Vi Zapara School of Business building with dropped-jaws and wide eyes, taking in the beautiful architecture, comfortable study areas, and collaborative classroom environments. But on this brisk evening of October 17, 2013, students entered to discover over fifty local and national business organizations and non-profits eager to network and discuss job and internship opportunities. It was time to “Meet the Firms.”
Hosted by the Tom and Vi Zapara School of Business, La Sierra University’s annual Sam Croft Meet the Firms Night connects professionals, businesses, and local organizations with highly qualified, well-motivated students. Attendees come for the great food, great conversation, and the showcase of top employers seeking the next generation of top talent. The event reached new heights of success this year with a record fifty-five organizations attending and joining the celebration of thirty years of “Meet the Firms.”
What began as an ambitious undertaking by Sam Croft and Bill Key to create new career opportunities for students has grown to the success seen today, largely due to the work of Cheryl Bauman, Coordinator for Student Services, who has been involved in it now for twenty-three years.
“Sam Croft was gifted in connecting with the community and that is where this event received it’s foundation,” said Bauman. “When I became involved with MTFN, we would shut down the cafeteria and partition off a small section for students to come in and eat supper, but the rest of the space was devoted to the event. It is actually quite humorous when I think back on those days! But there was a system in place and over the years we learn from the process and make improvements. If you aren’t constantly evaluating the process, then you don’t keep up with where the business community is going and how we can attract them to our students. Years ago, in the overall job market, as frustrating as this may sound to current job seekers, companies would flock to career fairs and be handing out jobs. All the student needed to do was show up. That isn’t the game anymore. Companies are looking for ways to cut costs and they want to know that if they extend the effort to come out, it will be worth their while.”
And from the positive response of these organizations, including requests to host on-campus interviews for students the following week, the 30th Annual Sam Croft Meet the Firms Night certainly was worth their time. Representatives reported students were extremely well-prepared, ready to engage with questions, and eager to discuss job and internship opportunities. “The only thing more polished than our students’ shoes were their resumes,” said John Razzouk, Program Manager for the Zapara School of Business. “Thanks to our impressive students, we know all of these organizations and more will want to attend our next Meet the Firms Night.”
In the weeks leading up to the Meet the Firms Night event, students engaged in several opportunities to increase their level of preparedness. New accounting professor and social media aficionado David Albrecht delivered an engaging business colloquium for undergraduate business students on Oct 1, resulting in a rapid increase to the number of students with profiles on professional networking site Linkedin. Career Specialist Jamie Beck spoke to students on the topics of resumes and interview skills. Deborah Meredith, Talent Acquisition Manager at Enterprise Holdings, who would be representing Enterprise Rent-a-Car at Meet the Firms Night, took the time the day before the event, sharing tips with students on etiquette, attire, and more. The results spoke for themselves.
Heather Miller, MBA Advisor and a Manager for the Zapara School of Business Executive Education Programs took time during the event to speak with representatives, including several alums, at each table. “It was incredible to see alumni now on the other side of the table to represent their companies,” said Miller. “Without fail they all told me being in the new building – several for the first time – made them wish they could come back and take more classes! They feel like THIS is THEIR new building too, and that it gives their degree even more credibility now.”
“These are our stars,” said Dr. John Thomas, Dean of the Zapara School of Business. “Our students and alumni are showing the world what it truly means to create value and make a difference. They are strengthening the power of our network and bringing in more organizations each year with their integrity, passion, and creativity.”
The Annual Sam Croft Meet the Firms Night hosted by the Tom and Vi Zapara School of Business is one of several opportunities for professionals, businesses, and local organizations to connect with highly qualified, well-motivated La Sierra University students. Organizations which join our growing employer network receive full access to engage with our students and are frequently featured in related community events, student assemblies, classroom activities, and on the Zapara School of Business blog, website, and social networks. To learn more about how your organization can join and participate in one of the most powerful growing professional networks in Southern California, contact Cheryl Bauman, Coordinator for Student Services at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find the Tom and Vi Zapara School of Business on Linkedin by clicking here.