Learning how to talk to employers

GVSU event to highlight communication skills for job interviews, professional settings

By Destiny Jones | 2/15/17 10:36pm


GVL / Luke Holmes - A student speaks with Artprize representative, Amelea Pegman.The career fair was held in the Devos Place Thursday, Feb. 26, 2016.

Talking to a professional in their field of interest can be nerve-wracking and intimidating for some students, but knowing how to connect meaningfully with employers is an important networking skill.

To help students and alumni develop their professional communication skills, Grand Valley State University will be hosting an event called “How to Talk to Employers.” The purpose of the event is to help students and alumni prepare conversations and learn how to introduce themselves and engage in dialogue with professionals. The event will take place in Kirkhof Center Room 2263 of Thursday, Feb. 16, from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Megan Riksen, a career advisor at the GVSU Career Center, believes colleges students of any year should talk to employers. She said doing so is a good practice and an excellent way to get to know different organizations and career fields.

“Being equipped (with a) little information of the employers beforehand is a good way to prepare,” Riksen said, suggesting students visit employers’ websites to collect background information beforehand. “This will help develop questions in advance so that you are informed.”

Rachel Becklin, a career adviser and internship specialist at the GVSU Career Center, also thinks that when preparing, students should know what their goal is and have some general information. She thinks individuals should reflect beforehand to prepare for an actual interview with an employer.

“When laying out your attributes to an employer, stories and examples should be connecting the dots,” she said.

Becklin also noted dressing business casual is important to make a good first impression, as well as “bringing a notepad, questions, a folder of resumes and strong handshakes, too.”

Riksen said students should develop good, specific questions to ask employers instead of the general, “So, what does your company do?” Instead, she thinks students should ask more open-ended questions that can help the flow of the conversation. Doing research beforehand can help with developing good questions.

The “How to Talk to Employers” event is also applicable to students looking for internships, even if they are unsure of what they would like to do.

Riksen said when talking to employers about internships, students should know how to talk about themselves and describe what their skills are. She suggested practicing a thirty-second or one-minute pitch while rehearsing in a mirror or using an audio recording system.

For more information about “How to Talk to Employers,” visit www.gvsu.edu/events/how-to-talk-to-employers-6/.

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