The initiative is a weeklong campaign where local professionals and alumni in various industries are invited to present on a variety of professional topics and help prepare students for careers after college.
“Backpack to Briefcase is one more way that we work to ensure our students are ready for career success,” says Robin Sronce, dean of the Rankin College of Business. “We strive to make sure all our students have the necessary tools for landing either their first internship or a full-time career opportunity, and we’re excited to see the initiative grow in popularity with our students.”
Backpack to Briefcase was held September 30 through October 4, and more than 450 students attended. In its inaugural year, 375 students participated. This year, there were 14 sessions with 39 presenters who discussed topics including resume and cover letter writing, social media presence, dressing for success, internship strategies, and more.
This year, the initiative was coordinated in partnership with SAU Career Services and also obtained sponsorship from El Dorado, Arkansas-based Murphy USA.
“At Murphy USA, we believe that hiring locally and supporting our community go hand-in-hand,” said Adam Barclay, senior talent acquisition specialist at Murphy USA. “Events like Backpack to Briefcase provide us with a unique opportunity to build relationships with students who not only love Southern Arkansas as much as we do but who also want to establish a career here. We look forward to continuing to strengthen our relationship with SAU and finding opportunities to get involved in our community.”
While Backpack to Briefcase is open to all students in the Rankin College of Business, special programming is provided for seniors.
The first day of the event features a session with a panel of SAU students who recently participated in career internships. This year, Deeadra Johnson, who interned with Facebook; Charlie Thomas, who interned with Bodcaw Bank; and Dioseline Mancera, who interned with Murphy USA; participated in the panel.
The students shared their knowledge and experience with others who may be looking for similar opportunities.
On Wednesday, students were able to participate in mock interviews and have professional photos taken for their LinkedIn profiles.
On Thursday, the Rankin College of Business held its fall career fair with companies including Aerojet Rocketdyne, Arkansas Department of Human Resources, Arkansas Natural Resource Commission, Central Arkansas Development Council, Farmers Bank & Trust, Murphy USA, Refyn Data LLC, and others.
The weeklong initiative concluded with a series of presentations entitled “Where can I go with a business degree,” where local professionals present on the various career paths they’ve personally taken with a business degree.
“The largest benefit I think students gain from this week is that they understand the components of a career,” says Olivia McClure, student organizer for the initiative. “They learn what to do to prepare in advance, what to do in the application process, and things to do within a career as well after they have secured the job.”