Howard W. Hewitt – Thursday’s Career Center Job/Internship Bootcamp was an opportunity for several alumni to return to campus and "give something back."

That’s often a common reason when we query returning alumni about giving of their time to help Wabash students. Everyone has a different gift to share whether its expertise, a monetary gift, or simply life experience.

The centerpiece of the Bootcamp is a networking lunch and one-on-one mock interviews. The people behind the interviewer’s desk are alumni and a good number of Wabash College staff.

The alums come from a variety of backgrounds – entrepreneurs, financial advisors, and alums from large corporations. While staff members have equally varied backgrounds many of them come from interesting backgrounds beneficial to the process.

There was Director of Alumni Affairs Tom Runge, a leader of men, Air Force Colonel, putting the young men through their paces. 

Sports Information Director Brent Harris hires 15-20 students to work for his office each fall and interviews twice that number to fill the positions. But he also has worked as a Production Manager in the newspaper industry and had to hire and supervise a workforce in the ‘real world.’

"I was impressed with the skills the students possessed during our  sessions," Harris said. "Each person I talked with during the speed networking  session came with a plan for their short-term summer employment and  their long-term career goals. The two mock interview candidates were well prepared. Both provided a professional  demeanor, answered questions well, and conducted themselves as great  job candidates. I would have hired both of them for a position if  I were running a real job search."

I enjoy hearing myself talk about years in the newspaper business hiring nearly 40-50 young people into their first job. I also interviewed hundreds of candidates over a 20-year career in the newspaper business, many of those with the Nixon Newspaper chain. I was the designated "job fair" guy for Nixon for awhile.

I’m amazed at just how good these young men handle themselves. Sure, they make a few mistakes. I had one young man today misspeak and utter a profanity – none of the big ones. I smiled and stopped him mid-sentence. He didn’t even realize he had said it. But we laughed and proceeded with the ‘mock interview.’

What did impress me was how both of the Wabash guys I spent time with used specific life examples to back up their answers. Even though our students are 18-22 years old, many have had valuable jobs, internships, and work experiences that reach back into high school. The lessons learned there are valuable in the job search.

I posted a story about the Bootcamp on the website homepages, linked here. Andrew Schelton ’03 said, "I wish there was something like this when I was here."

I’m much older than Andrew and it was a different college but I was thinking the same thing.