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Career Connections: Alumni and Friends Prepare Students for the Future

We spoke with Angela Beer, who manages the Knowlton School’s Student Services office, about student career planning and opportunities for alumni engagement. 

1. The Spring Career Fair is the most visible career services event of the year. Can you describe its trajectory?

The first Knowlton School Career Fair took place in 2006. The event took off right away—25 employers registered in the first year.  Prior to this there was no real way for employers to engage directly with students, nor any organized career support for Knowlton students. I made it my mission to try to move the needle on this and bring some career-focused initiatives to Knowlton students directly. After struggling through the recession year, the event blossomed again. Seventy-eight employers registered in 2019 and its reached physical capacity in Knowlton Hall for a one-day event. I definitely appreciate the employers who attend year after year. In the last two years, many first time employers also participated including alumni-owned employers from different parts of the country. We have a great mix of local, regional and national employers and employer who represent all of the school’s disciplines. In recent years, a lot of effort has been put into preparing students for the event—making sure student research employers, prepare materials, and practice introducing themselves and talking about their work and interests.


2. Can you tell us about some of your new initiatives designed to help prepare students for their professional career?

This past year brought three new events to students. In autumn 2018, the first ever planning-specific career fair introduced our planning students to career and internship opportunities in public, private and nonprofit organizations. Later in autumn, a group of students visited Moody Nolan for a job shadow experience that I organized with Project Architect Jenn Rittler, AIA (BSARCH ‘08). In January, the Knowlton School Alumni Society hosted a Mock Interview Night. Thanks to 19 alumni volunteers, nearly 50 students across all programs were able to participate and gain experience in an interview setting in advance of the Spring Career Fair.

In 2019-20, I am piloting a Career Basics class to introduce beginning students to the career planning process and tools for success.


3. How do you feel these programs can help students research and prepare for their career path? 

These programs, both the big events and the little connections along the way, help students gain self-confidence and career readiness skills, from informal lunchtime workshops about resume basics or job search strategies to the Spring Career Fair.

Data collected from our incoming undergrad students at orientation shows that understanding career options and preparing for jobs and internships is a high priority. Nearly 25% of our undergraduate students identify as first generation students. Most of our students do not have connections to the industry or personally know anyone who is an architect, landscape architect or planner when they start at Ohio State. Exposing all of our students to a variety of career options within these fields early and often is a focus area for student services.


4. How can alumni get involved with Knowlton School students’ career preparation?

Alumni involvement, even from recent graduates, is so important. Local alumni are invited to volunteer with the school’s Mentor Program or help with mock interviews. Students interested in moving to another metro area would love to connect with alumni there; it would be great to develop a list of alumni who are open to being contacted or to host a virtual meet and greet. In 2019-20, I hope to set up additional job shadow opportunities here in Columbus and elsewhere in Ohio. Alumni who are interested in giving time to talk about the first steps in their career path or who can talk about the nuts and bolts of job applications, interviewing and the like would make for great guests. Alumni employers who wish to share job and internship opportunities with Knowlton students can post positions on Handshake, Ohio State’s career services platform.