8th annual Backpack to Briefcase program offers lessons on career-readiness and networking opportunities

February 20, 2024
By: Paul Davey

From networking with alumni to participating in interviews with actual recruiters, the weeklong Backpack to Briefcase program featured various events designed to prepare students for the jump from college to career.

The series ran from February 5 to 8, and was open to all Worcester State students. “Helping students go through that transition is the goal of this series,” said Benjamin Concepcion, assistant director of Career Services. “This is an opportunity where they can really grow quickly.”

The week began with a lesson on formal dining etiquette held in the Blue Lounge at the Student Center. Students received tips on how to behave at a professional dinner, and put what they learned to practice over the span of a complementary three-course meal.

The program continued the following afternoon with mock interview sessions, where students were paired with recruiters from companies in and around Worcester to experience a real job interview. “It was really eye opening,” said Klea Xhemollari, a junior majoring in Communication with a minor in Economics. “They gave me a lot of feedback.” After their meetings, students were offered advice for future interviews, such as how to tailor their resumes to specific jobs and the importance of dressing professionally. “This shined a new perspective as to what to expect,” said Arber Kadriu, a senior studying Computer Science.

At the open resume review hours on Wednesday, students met with career advisors and received tips on how to better market themselves through their resumes. This is a resource that is provided regularly by the Office of Career Services, which can be found on the third floor of the Student Center.

Later that day, students took professional headshots using a new photo booth on the first floor of Wasylean Hall. With the photo booth’s neutral background, bright lighting, and steady camera, every student received three headshots that are suitable for a Linkedin profile picture or other professional uses.

The final event of the week was the alumni dinner, which connected Worcester State students with alumni from their respective fields of study for an evening of networking over a meal. 

The dinner began with remarks from Benjamin Concepcion, Louise Taylor of University Advancement, and university president Barry Maloney. They commended the students for participating in the events and trying to get a head start on their careers, and spoke about the importance of maintaining strong connections with Worcester State alumni new and old. “This is literally what legacy looks like,” said Concepcion.

Photos by Colin Joyal

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