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Spring Break Boot Camp Focuses on Career Readiness

Three days into her Spring Break, Stetson student Sharnae Frazer was busy polishing her resume in a computer lab inside the Lynn Business Center.

Frazer joined 22 other Stetson students last week for a Spring Break career readiness boot camp, called the EDGE Program. The new pilot program ran students through mock interviews and taught them everything from etiquette to networking and selling themselves in an elevator pitch to potential employers.

A group of students listen in a classroom
Stetson students in the EDGE Program listen during a session on “Intentional Branding” to help prepare them to search for jobs and internships, and enter the workforce.

The students also received help with professional makeovers and creating their resumes, cover letters, business cards and a professional online presence, such as a LinkedIn profile.

Frazer is a first-year Discovery student, born and raised in Jamaica. She jumped at the chance to participate in the program through Stetson’s Career and Professional Development office.

First year Stetson students in LBC computer lab
Sharnae Frazer

“I want to help my mom with finances and not always have her giving me money,” said Frazer, who hopes the boot camp will help her find a summer job. “I want to try to make sure I have the money to be able to take care of myself also.”

The SunTrust Foundation awarded Stetson a $30,000 grant for the EDGE Program, which targeted students who may lack the resources that are available to financially better off students when searching for jobs and internships, said Tim Stiles, Executive Director of Career and Professional Development.

Tim Stiles

“This is the first time Stetson University has created an intensive, one-week EDGE Program focused solely on developing its students’ professional and career readiness skills,” he said. “We are grateful for funding from the SunTrust Foundation, allowing us to focus on students whose families may not have large professional networks or the means to send their children to a faraway city for a ‘no-pay or low-pay’ internship. 

“The EDGE Program helps these students build and practice career readiness skills and expand their circle of contacts through training, practice interviews, and networking sessions with employers and Stetson alumni,” he added.

Stiles said his office is looking to expand the program and may one day offer it to all Stetson students but probably will first focus on one to two days in May for graduating seniors.

“We know from our senior surveys that 40 percent of our students consistently over the last four years have told us they don’t start their job searches until right at graduation, so we’ve seriously thought about doing it in May,” Stiles said, adding that his office would search for underwriters to help keep the costs low for students.

The instructor and the student sit together working at a computer
John Sheehy, Career Development coordinator, left, helps Stetson junior Santiago Cruz work on his resume during the EDGE Program for career readiness during Spring Break. Photos/Joel Jones

Santiago Cruz is a junior from Colombia in Stetson’s Honors Program, majoring in Business Administration and minoring in entrepreneurship. He said he particularly enjoyed meeting with working professionals during the boot camp, learning from them and making connections. The students took a field trip Thursday to Jacksonville to visit Black Knight Financial Services for training, a tour and networking lunch.

“Ultimately, I want to be a commercial real estate investor,” Cruz said, “and right now I’m looking for any position that will add on to my professional skills in finance, accounting and marketing.”