Giving Blue Hens an Edge in Business

photo of person with a telescope standing on an arrow with a lerner building the in background

The Lerner Edge Program, created two years ago by the Lerner Career Services Center, afforded students the opportunity to participate in a skill immersion experience designed to provide them with a competitive edge when seeking employment. Sessions and breakouts led by Lerner Advisory Board members who wanted to work directly with students helped Blue Hens create standout resumes and build impressive interview skills. In light of COVID-19, the program has transitioned to a virtual experience.

In Fall 2020, the Lerner Edge Program transformed into a 1:1 referral system where students received a list of volunteer members from the three Lerner Advisory Boards and reached out directly to schedule appointments to receive resume and interview support. Nineteen members volunteered from the Advisory Board, Alumni Advisory Board and NYC Dean’s Advisory Council.

“We initially created this program to serve as an extension of the Lerner Career Services Center,” said Jill Gugino Panté, director of the Lerner Career Services Center. “Once COVID hit, it was essential to keep our support services for students, so we transitioned everything, including this program, to a virtual platform.”

According to Panté, having a board member with industry experience and who hires people on a regular basis involved in this program provides students with inside knowledge and an edge to ensure their resume gets noticed and they are communicating effectively and selling themselves in the interview.

“When I went to college, I had little to no help with my resume or interview preparation,” said Mark Oller, Lerner Advisory Board Member and president of family wealth at Wilmington Trust Company, who volunteered with the Lerner Edge Program. “As a result, I’m happy to provide students with the benefit of my 30+ years of experience and over 25 years in hiring so that they put their best selves forward.”

“This program provides an opportunity to help students feel more connected and enhance their overall experience in the College”, said Mary Ellen Payne, Lerner Advisory Board member and retired vice president of marketing and sales with Verizon, who also volunteered with the Edge Program.

Panté shared some of the most important tips that volunteer experts shared for students to keep in mind during their job search:

  1. Make sure your resume matches the language in the job description. A generic resume won’t get moved to the interview process.
  2. Proofread your resume to make sure there are no grammatical or spelling errors.
  3. Provide concrete examples when answering questions. Don’t give general or “yes/no” answers.
  4. Practice, practice, practice. Interviewing is tough so the more you practice, the better and more confident you will be.

Since Fall 2020, the Lerner Edge Program has helped over 120 students, both undergraduate and graduate, improve their resume and interviewing skills. Feedback shows that the program has had an overall positive effect on both board members and students alike. Students who participated in the program shared that:

  • “I appreciated the guidance I received through the Lerner Edge resume review and mock interview referral initiative. I spoke to several board members who were all very helpful to me during my job search.” – Class of 2020 marketing major now employed as an event marketing specialist.
  • “It has been rewarding to receive feedback from the students that they were successful in obtaining the employment opportunities that they were seeking and preparing for.” – Matthew Cohen, Lerner Advisory Board Member and partner in National Professional Practice at Ernst & Young LLP.
  • “Great experience. Nice to get a professional point of view and feedback to improve.” – Elian Villalobos, Class of 2022 finance
  • “My experience has been really great and very enjoyable. My reasons for involvement are simple,I believe every student needs help with the transition from college to the working world. It is certainly one of the most challenging transitions in life that we all go And, I enjoy talking with and helping the students.” – Robert Deutsch, Lerner Advisory Board Member and Chair of the J.P. Morgan ETF Board.
  • “This program was really useful! The comments and advice given really helped me become more confident in interviews” – Eric Albiez, Class of 2021 operations management
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