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Released June 23, 2004


HATTIESBURG -- A new suite under construction at The University of Southern Mississippi should make it easier for potential employers to court graduating students.

A former classroom on the second floor of Joseph Greene Hall, which houses the College of Business and Economic Development, is being converted into an interview suite that will be more accessible to students.

Business student Christopher Rand said he likes the idea of being able to interview for a job in the same building in which he takes classes.

"Some of my interviews have been on the Coast, and you're riding around trying to find a place you've never been," said Rand, 21, an accounting major from Jackson. "Having businesses come to our campus, all in one place, is really helpful."

With five soundproof rooms and a waiting room for students, the new addition "should be one of the most professional interview suites of its kind in the state," said Amy Yeend, assistant director of career services for the College of Business and Economic Development.

A Career Services Center already exists on campus for use by all students, but Yeend said the CBED wanted to internalize the process so business students could start becoming more "career-minded."

CBED Dean Dr. Harold Doty said a key element in accomplishing that mission is providing a professional space where students can interview with companies.

"We expect this will make our college graduates more attractive to corporations, and at the same time, provide a professional setting where our students may present themselves in the best way possible," Doty said.

Rusty Anderson, director of Career Services in McLemore Hall, said the new interview suite, which will be open to students across the disciplines, will be an added value for students. "It will be not only a convenience for students, but also to employers in that they'll be more accessible to classroom presentations and faculty interactions. The addition of this suite helps create an atmosphere of what we're all about, and that's educating students for careers," Anderson said.

Not only will the new interview suite better accommodate employers, Yeend said, but it should also help increase participation rates among students.

"Now our students will see people in suits, walking the halls, polishing their resumés, and taking the job search very seriously. In turn, it should change outside employers' whole outlook on the university and the college.

Doty said he expects that the new suite will "help us place more students in better jobs." "This is only one part of the effort we're taking to help achieve our mission," he said.

In a comprehensive effort to enhance student services, CBED opened a Career Services Office earlier this year, which serves business students at both the Hattiesburg and Gulf Park campuses. Other objectives of the Career Services Office include building and enhancing the Internship and Cooperative Education program, tracking student and alumni job placement and salaries, and improving relations with employers.

Yeend, an MBA hired in February to oversee the Career Services Office, said student and faculty response to the new office has been "overwhelmingly positive."

Employers have also benefited, she said, because the new office provides improved campus awareness and name recognition while offering an increased pool of outstanding candidates for job openings. With the completion of the interview suite, which will host its first companies this fall, that communication will only get better, Yeend said.

"I've talked to a few companies who regularly interview on campus, and they're very excited about the prospect. It makes it easier for their campus branding, to make students aware of their company," Yeend said.

Ed Burch, assistant to the vice president at Cintas Corporation's South Central Group, championed Doty's "vision to establish a satellite career center office specifically targeting (Southern Miss') business students."

Burch continued, "This, coupled with the establishment of renovated interview rooms, located in the business school, will allow employers to properly interact with (Southern Miss) graduates in a professional business environment."


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July 6, 2004 12:51 PM