Student FAQ

What is the CAL Career Conference?

The College of Arts and Letters Career Conference is designed to help students explore, prepare for, and pursue the wide range of career opportunities available with a liberal arts degree.  Students can attend a range of events during the conference, information panels, a networking lunch, and workshops! See the schedule for more information.

The Career Conference is designed to be an educational and networking event.  Some of the benefits for you include opportunities to:

  • Network with alumni from your department, as well as other departments in the College of Arts and Letters
  • Learn more about career opportunities for CAL majors
  • Explore career, graduate and professional school, and community engagement paths
  • Gain valuable skills and strategies for pursuing careers
  • And more!

Please contact us if you have additional questions about this event!

How is the Career Conference different from the Career Fair?

The CAL Career Conference is different from JMU’s Campus-Wide Career Fair. Every September and February, Career and Academic planning hosts a campus-wide Career Fair that brings in recruiters to share information about available jobs and internships. We encourage you to attend that valuable event!

The Career Conference, on the other hand, brings back alumni who wish to share insight with students who are preparing to enter the job market. While we encourage students to learn about potential jobs, the conference’s primary purpose is to offer students educational and networking opportunities.

Do I have to register?

YES!  Registration is FREE and required for Friday panels, Saturday workshops, and lunch.  Please see the Registration page for links to Student Registration. Be sure to register by March 22.  Once you’ve completed the registration survey, be sure to screenshot or print your confirmation page, as it contains information about your sessions.

For students who don’t register, we will have limited walk-in registration the days of the conference, but we can’t guarantee space in sessions.

Where is the conference?

Friday morning, starting at 8 a.m., check-in will be located in the Hall of President’s room, on the top floor of D-Hall.  Once there, you’ll receive your nametag with the printed locations of your sessions.

Panels will be located on main campus. Exact building and room numbers will be provided at check-in.

Lunch for Alumni and Students will take place on Friday in the Hall of President’s room.

Saturday morning, starting at 9 a.m., check-in will be located in Harrison Hall, first floor (Quad entrance).  Workshops will be in Harrison Hall.

Is food provided?

Yes, the conference provides continental breakfast at check-in on both Friday and Saturday, and a lunch at the Student/Alumni Networking Lunch on Friday.  See the schedule for more information. Be sure to register in advance!

What should I do to prepare?

For the Friday panels, just bring yourself and your curiosity!  To get the most out of each panel, please read the description carefully and consider what questions you might ask of the alumni there.

For the Saturday workshops, which will be more interactive, you will want to come with specific questions and issues you’d like to discuss.  The alumni attending will be ready to offer you specific information, advice, and feedback.

The four topics are:

  • Resumes/cover letters
  • Interviewing
  • Networking
  • Internships/Volunteering

You will select your top two choices when you register (space allowing, the committee will do its best to honor  your topic choices). If you selected resumes, please bring electronic and hard copies of your resume in progress; if you don’t yet have a resume, you can start one at the workshop.

We will post or email any additional instructions close to the conference.  

What should I wear?

Business casual attire is recommended for this event. This is a professional and educational space. Please see these resources for more information and guidelines:

What Does Business Casual Attire Mean?

What Business Casual Really Means (Business Insider)

What Business Casual Really Means (NY Times)

Some notes on professionalism and professional etiquette:

  • This is a networking and informational event. Please use professional behavior and language while there. Be respectful and courteous.
  • Alumni are coming back to JMU to offer you insight, advice, and suggestions. Be prepared to ask questions, participate in discussions, and make the most of your time at the conference. Really think about what questions you have and what advice you’d like to hear as you make your career plans. This is your chance to learn a lot from the alumni.
  • Please thank the alumni who are devoting their valuable time, energy, and knowledge to this event. They were where you are now, and they want to give back. Please let them know you appreciate their efforts to help you be successful!
  • Be sure to arrive on time for sessions and stay the entire time.
  • While you will want to be professional, keep in mind this is a learning opportunity. It’s okay–and even important–to ask questions! The alumni want to help, and they understand that being in college is about opportunities to explore, learn, and grow.
  • Career and Academic Planning offers additional recommendations and considerations for professionalism on their “Your Professional Image” page:

What should I ask the alumni?

Remember, the alumni are here because they want to help their fellow CAL Dukes!  They will be open to your professional questions and willing to offer advice and suggestions.

Here are some ideas for questions and discussion topics, during the panels, networking events, and workshops (as appropriate).  Please feel free to adapt these questions to fit your own interests and career goals:

  • What classes did you take as a College of Arts and Letters student that you have found most useful in your career? Are there classes that you didn’t take that you wish you had?
  • Are there other things you did in college (volunteering, internships, student organizations, study abroad, etc.) that were helpful? Were there things you wish you had done to prepare for life after college?
  • What was your first job after graduation? Did you have jobs before the one you’re in now that didn’t work out? What jobs did you apply for that you didn’t get? What did you learn from those experiences?
  • What are you doing now? Is your job related to the things that you studied as a CAL major?
  • If you are in law school or a graduate program now, what advice do you have about getting admitted? On how to get funding to support further study? What do you hope to accomplish as a result of your current academic work? Where are you headed next?
  • Do you have any recommendations on pursuing more education after JMU? Are there career doors that you think are opened by further education? Are there other benefits? What kinds of further education are most useful?
  • What are some of the ways you stay connected to your community? Do you do any community or civic engagement work? Do you have any suggestions for me as I plan ways to give back to my communities?
  • Do you like your job? What is your ultimate career goal (i.e., are you currently working towards a career goal that you haven’t yet achieved)?
  • How did you find out about your job? How did you get your job?
  • What kinds of opportunities for employment are there for people with a Bachelor’s degree in your field? What about an advanced degree?
  • In applying for jobs, what is your best advice on how to present my academic credentials? What parts of my work as a CAL major should I emphasize in looking for employment? How to I help employers see my strengths?
  • Are there any ways in which you personally could help me in finding a job after graduation? For example, are you in a position in the company or agency in which you work to recruit new employees? Do you have a business card? Could we stay in touch in case future opportunities arise?

In addition to preparing some questions to ask alumni, be prepared to discuss yourself: your interests, your educational and professional background,  your goals for the future, and so forth. Be ready to make the most of this networking and learning opportunity!