‘Careers for Impact’: Students explore businesses balancing purpose and profit

Dr. Saskia van de Gevel, associate professor in the Department of Geography and Planning, left, moderated a panel discussion on “Science for Change” businesses, including a live panelist from the National Geographic Society, right, and teleconference panelists from Esri and The Collider. Photo by Chase Reynolds

BOONE, N.C. — The inaugural “Careers for Impact” event on Appalachian State University’s campus Feb. 20 provided students the opportunity to explore career opportunities and learn more about participating in regional nonprofit organizations and Certified B Corporations — a type of business that balances purpose and profit, working for the greater good. The university’s Career Development Center (CDC) presented the event.

“We collaborated with faculty and students for months to plan this event to showcase employers making a positive impact on society with a commitment to sustainability, said Dr. Susan McCracken, Appalachian’s director of career development and economic engagement. “It brought together a remarkable group of committed and passionate individuals — employers, students, Appalachian staff and faculty — who want to impact the world and gave them a forum to share and learn with one another.”

Students attending a panel discussion at the “Careers for Impact” event held on Appalachian State University’s campus Feb. 20. Photo by Chase Reynolds

Interactive panel discussions, moderated by members of Appalachian’s faculty and CDC staff, spanned three topic areas: Science for Change, Social Impact and Advocacy, and Sustainable Business and Social Entrepreneurship.

Some of the topics addressed by the participating business representatives:

  • Mission and purpose of their organizations.
  • Career journeys of the presenters.
  • Trends in and future of the businesses.
  • Internship and job opportunities.
  • Specific skills and qualifications desired in new hires.

Faculty from several departments encouraged students to attend and, despite inclement weather, more than 400 students took part in the event.

Informal meet-ups, such as this one held in Appalachian’s Student Veteran Services, allowed employers to have informal conversations and learn more about student culture at Appalachian. Eric Gormly, program director of student veteran services, pictured in the foreground, talks with one of the business representatives. Photo by Chase Reynolds

Susan Poorman, senior lecturer in Appalachian’s Department of Communication, said, “I think students need to hear how people can craft a career from their passions. As one of the panelists said, ‘There is a disconnect — students want to be socially active but don’t see it as a career choice, yet they should.’”

Dr. Adam Hege, assistant professor of public health education in the Department of Health and Exercise Science, said, “Students get to hear from us faculty in the classroom about all of these service/impact career opportunities, and it was exciting for them to hear from actual professionals out there doing so — those who choose service and impact over money and prestige.”

“Young people want careers in which they can dedicate themselves to community and service. However, nonprofits and other government agencies often lack the capacity to recruit on college campuses and to help make students aware of the incredible resources they have. The ‘Careers for Impact’ event showed how Appalachian is at the forefront of matching student interest and passion with employment opportunities that make a difference . . . and how the graduates of Appalachian will help ensure a more just and sustainable society.”
- G. Dylan Russell, executive director of Lead NC

Business representatives at the event also had an opportunity to learn more about Appalachian students through informal “meet-ups” with clubs, offices and departments, including:

  • The Department of Student Engagement and Leadership.
  • Appalachian and the Community Together (ACT).
  • The Women’s Center.
  • The Henderson Springs LGBT Center.
  • The Office of Student Research.
  • Student Veteran Services.
  • Wellness and Prevention Services.
  • The Office of International Education and Development.
With wintery weather conditions during the event, some corporate representatives participated in the “Careers for Impact” event via teleconference. Photo by Chase Reynolds

The meet-ups, along with a coffee hour networking session at the end of the day, were designed for employers to have informal conversations and learn more about Appalachian’s multidimensional students.

McCracken said a student she spoke with shared it was these individual conversations with employers that helped the student gain confidence and “what you do is only as important as who you are.”

Feb 28