June 9, 2023

Championing Career Readiness | High Point University

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This story is featured in the Spring 2022 edition of the HPU Magazine.

HPU leads students on a focused journey to build the careers of their dreams.

The hustle and bustle of Cottrell Hall’s Office of Career and Professional Development never stops.

Students come from all corners of campus to the Silicon Valley-style building and meet with advisors to map a path for their aspirations.

They shake hands, talk strategy and define their goals.

“We seek to meet students where they are,” says Dr. Doug Hall, vice president of Career and Professional Development. “Mapping out a career trajectory can be overwhelming for students, so we take the time to learn their interests, provide resources that enhance their understanding of career development and give guidance to engage in experiential education that promotes exploration before committing to a specific career path.

“We continuously express to our students the benefits of interacting with our office early and often and being open to exploring an array of experiential opportunities that accelerate their career goals.”

It all begins with intentionality.  HPU’s emphasis on promoting life skills comes by way of the learning experiences students encounter both inside and outside the classroom.

Life skills such as critical thinking, teamwork, professionalism, and oral and written communication skills are what employers seek. The more students see, hear and demonstrate their mastery of necessary life skills, the more natural it becomes for them to translate and transfer them to the workplace.

“We’re fortunate to have such a phenomenal team that brings their heart and passion to the work,” says Hall. “This is demonstrated in our mission to educate and empower all students to translate experiential learning to the professional world.”

HPU’s focus on career preparation sets a standard. Take it from Kate McCarthy, ’23, a double major in marketing and finance from Holden, Massachusetts. She’s spending her summer interning with Chick-fil-A Corporate Headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia.

Charging Forward to Chick-fil-A

McCarthy was ready. She had the experience and the know-how.

When the time came, it was no surprise she got the internship offer from Chick-fil-A.

After all, she took advantage of every opportunity she could at HPU.

She attended professional workshops with global leaders and joined organizations where she held leadership roles. All that experiential learning led to years of professional knowledge developed way ahead of graduation.

“The inspiring environment at HPU has always encouraged me to go after my goals,” says McCarthy. “I have a great support system from staff, faculty and fellow students who are there to guide, mentor and support me. The tons of resources on campus are there whenever I need help or have a question.”

McCarthy utilized the Office of Career and Professional Development starting her freshman year. After setting that foundation for professional development, she landed multiple internships prior to her position with Chick-fil-A.

“The Office of Career and Professional Development and my advisor, Allen Unger, have helped me navigate the job market and gain the skills I needed to excel in my professional endeavors,” she says. “They understand my initiative and ambition. You cannot wait for things to come to you; you must go out of your way to take charge of your future.”

McCarthy is a go-getter, and HPU supports her dreams. Now, when she’s working as a consumer data privacy intern, she’ll be ready for the fast-paced nature of Chick-fil-A’s corporate office.

Students like McCarthy come from all walks of life and all different backgrounds, but they have one thing in common: the ambition to lead lives of success and significance.


Accepting a Position with Amazon

Alon Parker waves whenever he passes Robert Tillman’s office in Cottrell Hall. Tillman is his career advisor in the Office of Career and

Professional Development.

“Robert has taught me how to network with other professionals, how to constantly give 110% to anything I put my mind to, and he holds me accountable when he believes I could do better in any aspect of my life,” says Parker. “He is a constant representation of how I want to hold myself as a professional in the real world.”

Parker’s goal isn’t just to have a successful career, although the Concord, North Carolina native and HPU senior already has a position lined up at Amazon Web Services as a demand generation representative.

He wants to be a change agent that positively impacts those around him the way his mentors impacted him. He’s had multiple impactful mentors that he credits to his success. Tillman is one, and Hall is another.

“I used the Office of Career and Professional Development frequently to obtain the amazing opportunity with Amazon Web Services,” says Parker. “I would constantly go to them for help constructing my resume and cover letter. I would meet with Dr. Hall, who helped me polish my materials to capture my dream internship and then my dream job. He spent time with me going over email structures, improving my LinkedIn so it looked professional and looking for internships. He was the real reason why I felt comfortable applying to any job.”

Parker’s story is one example of many from the Office of Career and Professional Development. But it’s all a team effort.

“HPU helped me get where I am now by providing so many different hands-on opportunities and experiences throughout my four years,” Parker says. “I feel comfortable and ready to accomplish anything that comes at me in the real world because I have been using these life skills since I stepped foot on campus.”

Alumni, faculty, staff and students all work together to create a cohesive network of learning and growth.

That’s how Riley Manion secured a spot with NBC.


Navigating to NBC

Manion was confident as he interviewed with the hiring manager. He knew he was well prepared.

He’s a junior broadcast journalism major from New Egypt, New Jersey, and he landed a position at NBC as a booking intern.

He spent the spring semester with NBCUniversal, coordinating guest bookings across multiple NBC shows, including NBC News, “TODAY” and more.

It all started with a dream that Manion and a team of students quickly turned into reality.

They produced and hosted an HPU version of “The Voice.”

“It started as an idea, but we brought it to life, and I am so grateful for the experience,” says Manion. “My career goal is to be a TV host, and I got the chance to experience what that would be like, all while bringing together people from across campus to participate and watch. We had over 3,000 viewers.”

That passion is what continues to drive Manion to pioneer his future. He worked proactively to partner with the Office of Career and Professional Development early and often to reach his goals.

“Going in and asking for help with my resume or cover letter was something that seemed like a small step, but in the long run, the knowledge they gave made me polished and experienced through the power of words,” says Manion.

Manion also participated in professional development events with young alumni. It was at one of those events where he met Mitch Rismiller, a 2019 graduate who works as a producer for NBC’s “TODAY” Digital and has also worked on “The Drew Barrymore Show.”

Rismiller gave Manion advice and coached him before his big interview. That mentorship from an alumnus made all the difference to Manion.

It’s that network of professionals and a team of dedicated career advisors that allow HPU students to make big connections and stand out from the competition.

Career & Internship Expo

Each semester, employers flock to campus to meet and connect with HPU students for employment and internship opportunities. Companies that attend include Coca-Cola Consolidated, Volvo Group, Lenovo, Gartner, IBM and more!

Destination Success

Students and parents receive the Destination Success email series, which is strategically designed to provide, tips, tricks and opportunities for professional development. Topics include advice from alumni and recruiters at major companies, how to sharpen resumes, how to build professional networks and more.

First-Year Seminar on Life Skills

All freshmen attend a weekly seminar focused on fiscal literacy, time management, effective communication, leadership and more. This class is led by HPU President Dr. Nido Qubein, an entrepreneur and consultant to CEOs, and also includes sessions with global leaders who serve in residence at HPU, such as Russell Weiner, CEO of Domino’s.

1924 PRIME & Alo

According to The New York Times, employers say that taking a candidate to lunch or dinner is one of the most revealing and important parts of the hiring process. While other universities might provide a one-time etiquette class for seniors, HPU provides students with four years of career preparation inside 1924 PRIME and Alo, HPU’s fine-dining learning labs. Students can participate in weekly dinners as part of their meal plan beginning their freshman year.

Internship Guarantee

To ensure students build career experience and industry connections, HPU offers a 23-step professional development program that guarantees an internship for every student who completes the steps in these five major categories: Career Exploration, Professional Branding, Networking, Research, and Interview Process and Protocol.

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