Eating Their Way to Employment

By Calvin Petersen

For most, the promise of receiving catered lunch and a world-famous BYU mint brownie is enough to get anyone to an event. However, for those attending the BYU College of Nursing Speed “Nurseworking” Luncheon last Thursday, more than food was on the line. Fifty-seven nursing students, graduating in April, were hungry for jobs.

Maryann Lowe and Rachael Langston
Maryann Lowe (center) and Rachel Langston (left) talk with a recruiter about interviewing best practices.

“I’m hoping to understand what recruiters are looking for when they hire new people,” said Maryann Lowe, a nursing student from Houston, Texas, “Maybe some advice for interviewing, general expectations and what things can set me apart. And then, if it does come up, a possible job opportunity.”

Even students who already know where they want to work after graduation attended the luncheon to explore job opportunities. “My purpose in being here is really just to see what my other options are if my plans don’t work out or I find something that sounds more attractive,” said Johny Jacobs, a nursing student who hopes to get a job at the Salt Lake VA Hospital.

Johny Jacobs and Jack Sturgeon
Johny Jacobs (left) talks with BYU Army ROTC recruiter Jack Sturgeon (right) about how he can blend his experience in nursing with the military.

During the luncheon, students eagerly scribbled notes and asked questions as more than two dozen professionals and alumni rotated around the room. “The main thing I like to do is talk to students about resumes, interviews and applications to help them land their first job. Whether it’s with me or somebody else, I don’t really care as long as I can help them,” says Steward Health Care Senior Recruiter Gregg Hale.

Hale is a veteran of the Speed “Nurseworking” Luncheon, having attended since its inception in 2014. He says he’s often impressed with BYU nursing students who thank him for his resume advice—some students even email Hale a copy of the improvements they’ve made to their resumes. “I have a lot of knowledge that these students are going to need in the next little bit and so I’m happy to pass it on,” says Hale.

Gregg Hale and Jessica Hunter
Steward Health Care Senior Recruiter Gregg Hale (right) counsels Jessica Hunter (left) about how to craft a resume that stands out to recruiters.

For College of Nursing alumni Mariellen Sereno (BS ’84, AS ’79), attending the luncheon meant driving over 9 hours from Anaheim, California, where she lives with her husband “in the shadow of the Matterhorn.” Sereno currently works as the Stroke Program Coordinator at Anaheim Regional Medical Center. She remembers what it was like to be an anxious student awaiting graduation and wanted to help students at the luncheon know about the possibilities that come with a degree in nursing.

“Nursing is just so broad. There are so many options available to nurses in the healthcare profession. I’ve taken a long and winding road since I graduated in 1979 and I’ve enjoyed every step of it,” says Sereno.

Mariellen Sereno and Bailey Gibbons
Mariellen Sereno (left) shares stories from her nursing career with Bailey Gibbons (right).

Students like Mary Mitton and Lisa Kofford received that message. “Everyone kind of started at the same point, but seeing where they’ve been made me realize there are so many different paths you can take with nursing,” said Mitton after the luncheon. Because she’s from Provo, Mitton plans to work locally for a couple of years until she goes back to school for her DNP.

Kofford, on the other hand, plans to look outside of hospital nursing for her career. “Seeing that a lot of people have done that and been successful, that there are other options, was really insightful to me,” said Kofford. The Speed “Nurseworking” Luncheon made both Mitton and Kofford grateful for their education at BYU. “I don’t think you can get a better education in nursing,” says Mitton. Kofford agreed, calling BYU’s nursing program “phenomenal.”

While students at the luncheon still have to make it through finals, graduation and countless job interviews, they left feeling a little more full and a little more hopeful than they were before.

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