Apr 23, 2021

College of the Ozarks hosts spring 2021 Career Expo

College of the Ozarks hosts spring 2021 Career Expo
College of the Ozarks hosts spring 2021 Career Expo

POINT LOOKOUT, MO. — College of the Ozarks hosted over 80 organizations during the spring Career Expo on April 15 in the Howell W. Keeter Athletic Complex. The bi-annual event connects students and employers to promote networking, fulfill internships, and allows students to pursue full-time career opportunities.

The Career Expo was hosted both in-person and virtually. The event's in-person component occurred under COVID-19 guidelines, and an online exchange area in the gymnasium allowed students to contact an additional 49 employers virtually.

The Career Expo aims to expose current students to jobs outside of the College and is a part of the Career Center's vocational development track. Other components include The Gift and The Hunt. This Career Center initiative follows the Thrive Pathway, a program primarily overseen by Dr. Andrew Bolger, director of The Keeter Center for Character Education.

The Career Center

Jim Freeman, director of the Career Center at College of the Ozarks, reflected on the Thrive Pathway and the ever-changing nature of an individual's career path.

“Our majors do not define our careers: most people will have several careers over their lifetime,” Freeman said. “The Career Center is about engaging, empowering, and equipping students. Its main purpose is to help students develop an understanding of who they are and communicate that to future employers.”

Freeman was hired in 2014 to oversee the Career Center. His goal is to build bridges between staff, faculty, and students and create a positive brand for the department.

Four years of growth

The Thrive Pathway consists of four parts that aim to guide students along their college journey as they enter and exit the school. Each of the four years in a student's college career is marked by distinct characteristics. Therefore, it is important to start working with freshmen and continue through their senior year. In a student's first year, they are growing accustomed to the rigorous standards of the College, while a fourth-year student is considering how to apply what they have learned to vocational life. The following experiences serve as a guide for student development:

  • Character Camp: A week-long orientation camp for incoming freshmen, Character Camp, places students into small cohorts known as families. Each family is led by a male and female upperclassman student identified as “Mom” and “Pop.” Families consist of approximately 12 students and provide an instant support system for the incoming freshman.
  • The Call: The Call is a sophomore leadership retreat that focuses on the various ways different personality types can serve as leaders and teammates at the College.
  • The Gift (Gathering Information for Transition): The Gift is a junior course that prepares students to transition into life outside of the College. By the end of the course, students have a resumé, cover letter, and LinkedIn profile.
  • The Hunt (Helping you Navigate Transition): The purpose of The Hunt is to help students successfully exit the College. The Hunt traditionally consists of a trip to regional corporations to introduce seniors to potential employers.

“Character Camp taught me how to have a good attitude even when it's hard. The Call taught me more about how God created me, and The Gift showed me the best ways to present myself as a valuable asset to any company,” said Jill Smith, senior English major at College of the Ozarks. “Participating in the Thrive Pathway has been an extremely rewarding experience that has prepared me for life beyond the Gates of Opportunity.”

Smith and her husband, a C of O alumnus, landed lucrative positions at a local luxury resort as entertainers and tour guides.

“I love it there and have been there for two years now. I would not have gotten that job if it wasn't for Jim Freeman and the Career Center,” Smith said.