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Lebanon Valley College in Pennsylvania hosted a full-day advising and career exploration event in lieu of classes on March 21, giving students an opportunity to access resources and develop their success plans.

The Breen Center for Career and Professional Development and the office of the provost organized the event, creating a day off in the academic calendar for this inaugural expo.

What’s the need: The idea to cancel classes came from faculty in October, says Tomomoi “T” Horning, the executive director of the center. Faculty wanted to support student retention and provide greater academic support through a day of just academic advising in the spring semester.

The career center was in the midst of planning its first all-major job fair in March as well, so the two departments collaborated to create the LVC Success Expo.

“We wanted to offer a different type of learning environment consistent with the vision and value proposition statement of LVC programming that would help them become successful young professionals,” Horning explains.

What it is: During the event, students could take a professional head shot, chat with an alumni mentor, network with university administrators or pursue the all-majors job and internship fair. Education professor Kelsea Gonzalez also hosted mock interviews as part of a classroom assignment.

And, as originally intended, faculty academic advisers were available by appointment to meet with students all day.

Workshops covered topics like wellness, intercultural workplace competency, awkward human resources interactions, careers in athletics and illegal interview questions. Faculty members who hosted workshops were awarded with professional development credit.

There were also fun activities available, including caricature drawings and airbrush demonstrations, and LVC’s art gallery held an open house of its current exhibit.

The college offered students an event attendance incentive: a chance to win a $500 scholarship.

A wider audience: While the LVC Success Expo was designed with students in mind, the event had a wider audience who participated and engaged with the day.

Prospective high school students were invited to learn more about LVC and engage in workshops, such as a panel of LVC’s student ambassadors, the Valley Blue Coats.

Recent alumni also received an invitation to participate in the job fair, professional development workshops and head-shot booth. “We wanted our alumni to know that our support services are for life,” Horning says.

At the end of the day: At the expo, LVC had around 236 students attend its 18 workshop topics and 264 participate in the job and internship fair; that’s about 15 percent of its 1,600 undergrads. More than 100 walked away with a new professional head shot.

The future of the event remains up in the air for now as the college mines its data and evaluates the event with stakeholders, Horning says.

But college officials believe the collaboration was valuable. “A college education is worth more when everyone from a higher learning community comes together to build cohesive experiences for students, consistent with the brand promise and heart for student success,” Horning says.

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