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Career Preparation Starts Early, Continues Throughout Business School

When students enroll in the University of Mississippi School of Business Administration, the school’s career prep team begins preparing them as freshmen to become part of the working world.

The UM School of Business Administration’s career prep team includes (from left) Tyler Meisenheimer, Business Connect program director; Amy Jo Carpenter, career planning and employer relations specialist; Meg Barnes, director of undergraduate career preparation; and Wesley Dickens, assistant director of experiential education. Photo by Stella Connell/School of Business Administration.

Meg Barnes, director of undergraduate career preparation, manages every entering student’s introduction into career planning. Barnes oversees the core curriculum for 20 sections of BUS 271: Business Communication, an entry-level course required for sophomores.

In this course, students learn the importance of proper communication, focusing on how to write professional emails, branding their resume, presentation skills and interview preparation.

“We want to focus on career preparation sooner rather than later,” Barnes said.

After this first step into career planning, business students have a multitude of important resources available from the business school’s career prep team.

Wesley Dickens, assistant director of experiential education, helps students “test drive” their careers and helps them take what they learn from BUS 271 and apply it to the real world. Dickens supports students in finding internships or learning experiences, and he also helps students discover what they want to do once they graduate.

“It is important for students to think intentionally about the experiences they engage in as a student,” Dickens said. “Everything they participate in shapes them in some manner or form.

“I encourage them to use their time wisely and to make sure they are engaging in experiences that will be the most meaningful and helpful for their future.”

Amy Jo Carpenter, career planning and employer relations specialist, primarily assists juniors and seniors with branding their resumes and social media platforms, as well as finding entry-level jobs. This fall, she will teach a new class in the management department directed at freshman and sophomore students – MGMT 101: Leadership for the Future – which is designed to help students learn about the practical applications of transformational leadership.

Carpenter has worked with employers for 22 years, identifying what they look for in a potential hire – from the attire they should wear to what should be on their resume. She also helps students shape their resumes to best attract the attention of potential employers.

“It never hurts to have another set of eyes look over your resume or have someone help you prepare for an interview,” Carpenter said. “We work as a team to best assist our students on their journey to enter the workforce.”

Tyler Meisenheimer, Business Connect program director, searches for job hubs where Ole Miss alumni have a significant presence. Meisenheimer used a career vision survey, developed by Barnes, to help the school’s advisory board understand where students are looking for jobs, their majors and their expected salary ranges. 

Tennessee and Texas have the strongest alumni hubs, with two per state – Memphis and Nashville, and Dallas and Houston. The following contenders are Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia, Meisenheimer said.

“The core strategy of Business Connect is matching our talented and business-ready students with key distinguished alumni, who are successful business leaders in their respective communities,” Meisenheimer said.

“Alumni, who work in the hotspot destinations, share with me that the UM business school prepared them very well when they were beginning their careers, and they are excited help their companies by recruiting top talent.”

Once students are ready to begin interviewing for jobs, there has been an increase in virtual interviews. The school’s career preparation office has a quiet room for students where they can virtually visit with potential employers about full-time positions or internships.

“We find the students with a more diverse background experience make for a stronger work candidate,” Barnes concluded. “It’s our charge and responsibility to help them be the best they can be once they graduate and look for their next steps professionally, and it’s a joy to see them launch and succeed.”

By Ali Mae Walsh

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