A A A print this page

Millsaps Senior Chris Bell Teams with Career Center and Local Leaders to Hold Talent Retention Fair for Jackson

May 13, 2013


When the Jackson City Council met on campus earlier this year, Millsaps senior Chris Bell, suggested more be done to offer employment opportunities for college graduates in the Jackson area. His suggestion resulted in a Talent Retention Career Fair in April that informed recent college graduates about jobs in the metro area.

Millsaps senior Chris Bell

"I love Jackson and it is imperative for the state to create strategic plans to retain smart leaders. Many students come to Jackson to receive a degree, but often times those students leave after receiving a degree. This is a loss of great thinkers, innovation, and ingenuity for the state of Mississippi," said Bell, a 2013 graduate who has taken a job in Jackson as a data analyst and policy consultant at the Mississippi Development Authority.

Tonya Nations, director of the Millsaps Career Center, promoted the fair to alumni who graduated in December 2012 and to seniors scheduled to graduate in May 2013 and August 2013. Nations joined forces with Bridget Young-Townsend, director of the Mayor's Youth Initiative for the city of Jackson, for the fair. The city of Jackson and the Greater Jackson Partnership were sponsors.

The Talent Retention Fair is just one example of how the Millsaps Career Center partners with the community. Nations and Suzi Nyberg, career specialist for business and pre-professional programs, have also served more than a decade on the Governor's Job Fair Board, which produces the annual Mississippi Employment Expo. "I see the Talent Retention Fair as part of those efforts," Nations said.

The Millsaps Career Center offers a variety of services and programs for students and alumni in academic and career development. "In 2012, the center worked with 76 percent of students, a statistic that has steadily increased when the center worked with just 20 percent of students in 2003," Nations said. "My personal goal is to get to 100 percent," she said.

The Career Center is available to all students, beginning with freshmen who are undecided about a major and desire career testing. A computerized career-planning program is an option for students seeking a comprehensive assessment that matches their interests, talents, and values with occupational fields.

The Center assists students as early as the second semester of their freshman year in setting up internships locally, nationally, and globally in education, the arts, communications, government, health care, nonprofit work, business, and finance.

Like internship and full-time opportunities, part-time jobs can be viewed online via College Central, a job posting service that is free for enrolled students. This system is available 24/7 and can be accessed through the Career Center's website. "The program does not guarantee placement, but serves as a service location for students seeking part-time work," Nations said. Full-time employment positions are also listed within the same online registration system which is free to students and alumni.

Further assistance is offered in the way of résumé referrals, on-campus recruitment, and employer information sessions, as well as free access to a job search management system, job search links, cover letter assistance, alumni network receptions, mock interviews, and career coaching for those who are active in their job search.

But not every graduating student is looking for employment. About half of each graduating class makes plans to attend graduate or professional school. So, the Career Center hosts graduate recruiters targeting Millsaps students, whether it is an on-campus event or a virtual fair online. For students advancing their education, the center also offers assistance with personal statements and the graduate/professional school application process.

"One way we are different from a lot of other college career centers is that we don't focus solely on jobs within our city limits," Nations said. For instance, one way the center expands their influence in the job market is by working closely with the Millsaps Office of Alumni Relations, which coordinates the Major Mentors program, a system of connecting alumni interested in helping graduates toward their goals through advice and networking opportunities.