The Rotary Club of Arlington gathered a panel of four successful Metroplex businesspeople to talk to UT Arlington students about career advice Wednesday.
Club President Derrick Kinney moderated a discussion covering rèsumè writing, the interview process, getting a job and the first day at work, followed by questions and answers from the students.
The panel included Sarah Knotts, director of development at Big Brothers Big Sisters Lone Star; Tarrant County Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace Mary Tom Curnutt; Jim Fulgham, retired consultant; and Mojy Haddad, president and founder of CHS Architects.
“We wanted to gather highly successful employers from diverse backgrounds to give advice to these students getting ready for work,” Kinney said.
Common advice included keeping rèsumès short but effective, having a valuable work ethic and showing up on time, giving a good first impression and standing out while answering interview questions.
Most questions from the students had to do with the best way to present oneself to a potential employer.
Kinney said that first impressions are formed in three seconds and that interviewees should make them count.
Knotts took it a step further.
“If you don’t shake my hand well and look me in the eye, you have 50 marks against you,” she said. “It’s about having that confidence — employers notice that.”
Fulgham suggested getting to know the administrative assistant beforehand, since “she always knows the best candidate,” while Curnutt advised students to present their weaknesses as strengths.
When asked what her most important advice to any student would be, Curnutt said to “always work hard to make something better than you left it.”
“We all have gifts to develop,” she said. “You have to get your boots on and go out there and work hard.”
Nursing major Mayra Gutierrez, 19, said she appreciates the opportunities given to her and other UT Arlington students who are preparing for the job market.
“As students we should take advantage of programs that help us with jobs,” she said. “Having a great rèsumè will distinguish us from others going for the same job. I’ve been to several job workshops, and the most important thing I’ve learned is to be confident and be yourself and you’ll get the right job.”
Linda Wilson, director of the university’s Career Development Center, said the night tied in nicely with the center’s mission to help students be more prepared to enter the job market.
The discussion was part of the Rotary Club’s “90 Days of Service” campaign, benefiting seven local organizations including Webb Elementary and Mission Arlington.
Upcoming in the campaign will include a cleanup of Don Meisenheimer Park in Arlington and revitalization of the courtyard at Webb Elementary.