Offering hands-on experience and access to industry leaders can prove to be invaluable to a student's education and eventual job search

There is a long list of factors prospective students should assess when considering which college to attend, but many experts believe students overlook a critical detail when determining the college that best suits their needs. College is no longer just about what students learn in the classroom. What they experience outside those four walls, and the type of career guidance a school provides, is also a key to career readiness.


Some of the standard services offered by career development departments at many colleges include resume and cover letter writing support, interview preparation, job fairs and career assessments. But some schools have taken career support to a whole new level.


“The career services offered at most colleges are incredibly helpful to students, but we like to take things one step further,” said Rick Yaconis, chief operating officer of Westwood College. “We challenge our career services team to develop unique, creative and out-of-the box events and activities for our students and alumni. What they bring back to us are often opportunities students can’t find anywhere else.”


Over the past 10 months alone, Westwood College hosted a number of career-focused opportunities bringing together students with industry leaders who are motivated to help students succeed after college. A few of those opportunities included:

  • A lecture series with Marc Mencher, a popular career coach in the entertainment industry with particular focus on the video game industry. Mencher’s exclusive "Preparing for Entry-Level Jobs in the Interactive Entertainment Industry" presentation provided students with insight into how to research opportunities, meet the right industry people, access the unadvertised job market, sell themselves, create the perfect demo, and beat the competition.
  • Annual Gathering of Video Game Legends events that bring together some of the interactive entertainment industry's most accomplished professionals to share their


experience on getting started in gaming, what they've learned along the way and to discuss the future of the gaming profession. This provides an exclusive opportunity for students to interact with "legends" from the video game industry, play and view video games, attend workshops, enjoy keynote speakers and learn about a career in the video game industry from those people that are often hiring.

  • A partnership with BlackBook Sessions, through which Westwood hosts and sponsors a series of unique art contests and workshops providing students with opportunities to feature their work and receive a scholarship for Westwood’s Visual Communications bachelor’s program.
  • The first-ever Student Portfolio Showcase event, created in association with the Chicago Loop Alliance Foundation and Pop-Up Art Loop, highlighted the work of 11 recent graduates from Westwood’s Visual Communication and Animation programs. All of the work showcased was created while the artists were students at Westwood College’s Chicago Loop Campus.
  • The MISLEAD art show, through which students from Westwood College South Bay Campus joined emerging artists throughout their community for an exhibit at the fINdings Art Center featuring a multidisciplinary review of propaganda and double speak in modern culture.


“The industry-related career events Westwood College provides are absolutely top-notch and can go a long way in opening doors for students as they approach graduation,” said Mencher, of GameRecruiter.com. “Students can learn a great deal in the classroom, but the experience gained beyond general curriculum is what eventually leads to securing a job.”


With the continued demand for qualified job candidates in both the technology and healthcare fields, Westwood will be developing additional programs that encourage networking opportunities for its students with industry visionaries and employers in these fields. The programs developed will provide Westwood students with a sense of the opportunities available to them and what they need to do to achieve their personal goals.


For more information, visit http://www.westwood.edu.