The Zhang Career Center: Connecting Students and Employers

By: Michelle Shember

The Zhang Career Center at the Haworth College of Business has been the start of many successful journeys through Western Michigan University. Through a variety of programs and services, students get help finding their paths and connect with the professional business community. And through many of the same programs, employers connect with talented students ready to launch their careers.

Student guidance and preparation

“The Zhang Career Center at the Haworth College of Business is unique because we specifically cater to both the needs of business students and the recruitment of business talent for professionals in the industry,” says Jennifer Palmatier, employer relations specialist in the center. “We are a self-funded office and rely on strong partnerships with employers who are devoted to the professional development of our Business Broncos.” 

Career advisors assist students with a variety of topics, such as major selection, resume development, practice interviews, career pathway discussions, assessments and interpretation of the assessments, including ways to use that information in career planning, and the inevitable job search. Students often visit the Zhang Career Center for guidance on applying for jobs or with questions about appropriate correspondence with employers.

“I assist students with their career development needs through one-on-one discussion,” says Bob Stewart, career development specialist. “These discussions include, but are not limited to, career pathway discussions, wage negotiation, job and internship search techniques, and strategies and proper use of social networking. I also provide intensive support to students in regard to the creation and continued maintenance of resume, cover letter and thank you letter documents as well as a thorough mock interview process designed to assist students in the preparation of securing meaningful employment.”

Connecting with employers

In addition to their work preparing students, the Zhang Career Center fosters collaboration between employers and WMU students to close the gap between students and the business world. This has proven to be an extremely beneficial process for both parties involved, resulting in satisfied employers and experienced students. “An interested employer can always contact any full-time staff member to inquire about Zhang Career Center involvement. For best results, employers should connect with our employer relations staff who can direct them through the process of becoming a hiring entity at the Haworth College of Business,” says Stewart. 

“The center can provide information about how to post jobs and establish a presence on campus through various branding efforts,” says Palmatier. “Employers are encouraged to utilize the on-campus interviewing program; the Zhang Career Center staff provides space and manages the interview schedules for the employers.” Employers are encouraged to reach out to one of the two employer relations specialists in the center who will then help the employer identify what types of needs they have and what strategies will work best to reach qualified candidates or the appropriate talent.

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Career Outcomes for WMU Graduates: Haworth College of Business Data

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Business Externship Program

The Zhang Career Center also acts as a provider for an experiential learning opportunity known as a business externship. The Business Externship Program is a way for employers to provide a one to three day experience for students. This program is equally advantageous for both employer and student; students are able to explore careers, and employers are able to identify talent early.

“Our team has traveled more than 5,000 miles visiting with current and potential premier partners and externship providers,” says Geralyn Heystek, director of the Career Center. Outreach efforts mean that more companies become aware of all that WMU business students have to offer, and more students will have opportunities to expand their professional experience. “This program is so successful at creating opportunities for our students that other major universities use our program as their model for their own programs,” says Stewart.

Getting involved

The Zhang Career Center has much to offer for both student and employer. “Our dedication to customer service, both for our students and employers is unique among career offices, according to employers.  We take the extra steps to ensure the experience is valuable,” says Heystek. Business students and professionals are encouraged to get involved with the Career Center to grow personally and professionally with one, or more, of their many programs connecting like-minded and forward thinking students and business professionals. The Zhang Career Center is located at 3020 on the third floor of Schneider hall and can be reached at (269) 387-2711 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.