Career Exploration Conference (What I Got From It, and What You Can Too) – Updated

I attended the annual Career Exploration Conference on February 3rd-4th, 2023. The purpose of this event was for Denison students to network with Denison alumni from various companies. Students learned about the alumnus’ steps of their career endeavors, successes as well as setbacks they encountered, their current position at their company, and advice for students starting to embark on the same journey. The conference was also an opportunity for students to get their foot in the door with companies of interest to them.

Since I am a Communication major interested in marketing and public relations, I attended the Marketing, Sales, and Communication panel discussion and took note of alumni stories that sparked my interest. After the panel discussions, we connected with alumni one-on-one, which is how I met a Group Event Specialist at the Columbus Blue Jackets. Because we had to end our discussion early due to limited time, I asked her how I could connect with her in the future. She gave me her business card and mentioned that she’d love for me to come down to Nationwide to shadow their pregame processes.

After an information session with her, followed by a meeting with the New Business Manager, I was invited to the arena on game day. I met new people who helped me build my professional network, took a tour of the headquarters and work space, and after learning about the New Business Process from a previous conversation with the manager, I saw it come to fruition. I observed tactics that CBJ sales representatives use to attract clientele, resolve conflicts, and foster and maintain long-lasting positive relationships with fans and clients. And, they generously gave me two tickets for me and a friend to enjoy the game afterwards. 

I am happy to say that shadowing with CBJ was an enjoyable, fulfilling experience. I am still in touch with everyone I have met and am still pursuing opportunities with the organization. Given that I received this opportunity through the Career Exploration Conference, I want to stress how important it is to attend these types of events. At Denison, we are fortunate to have resources like the Knowlton Center to guide us through the job search and application process. 

In order to benefit from this help, it is your responsibility as a student to be proactive in seeking it out. Make appointments with Knowlton, ask questions, and attend events. Then, at the events, talk to as many people as possible and ask them for their contact information so that you can follow up with them in the future via LinkedIn, email, and social media. If they are interested in connecting with you further, make sure you research the company and have questions and talking points prepared in advance before meeting with them. Remember that even if you do not receive an offer from a company to not become discouraged; it is still a worthwhile learning experience that will help you throughout the rest of your career exploration process.

I’m happy to report that I was invited back to Nationwide to shadow the Columbus Blue Jackets earlier in April! This time, I shadowed the Corporate Sales Activation Team. Before attending, the Corporate Activation Specialist sent me a detailed schedule of the day, which involved me connecting with several representatives to learn about their positions, as well as witnessing VIP experiences come to fruition. Once I arrived, I spoke to multiple employees in the Sales Activation Department, who are responsible for client outreach, writing and editing sales pitches, conflict resolution and management, and sponsorship event planning. The second half of the night I saw the sponsorship events that I had previously learned about, including the KPMG Locker Room Lineup, Dispatch on Ice Sweeps (where I stood on the ice!) and Lexus Postgame Photo. I also saw behind the scenes and experienced some benefits of the highly tech-savvy, iconic Fan Zone, where fans can take photos with a virtual Blue Jackets player of their choice, play against other NHL teams in a game simulation, and act as a goalie by blocking incoming pucks. I had an awesome time and I greatly appreciated the amount of effort that the Specialists beforehand put into ensuring that I had a meaningful experience. I strongly hope that my career pursuits with the Columbus Blue Jackets continue to move forward and I’m beyond excited to see what my future holds in store for me.

By Callie Natiello
Callie Natiello Student Assistant