How many members of CU Denver’s class of 2012 can say that they’re going to work for a company that, quite literally, saved their life?

Katie Lampkin can.

Advice from a newly-employed intern: Become an intern!

An anthropology major in the College of Liberal Art and Sciences, Lampkin became seriously ill in 2007 with celiac disease. The treatment? Eliminate gluten from her diet.

Her quest to find gluten-free food led her to Udi’s Gluten Free, a sister company of Udi’s. “I actually cried the first time I had their gluten-free bread,” she said. “It was tasty and as affordable as gluten-free could be.”

Commencement 2012
Commencement 2012
Commencement 2012
Commencement 2012
Commencement 2012
Commencement 2012
Commencement 2012
Commencement 2012
Commencement 2012
Commencement 2012

Lampkin sent the company an email, asking if it would consider opening a café on the University of Colorado Denver Campus. They sent her an email back asking if she would consider coming to work as an intern. “I didn’t know if it was for real,” she laughed. “I couldn’t believe this huge successful company emailed me back.”

When she picks up her degree, Katie Lampkin will have a job waiting for her at Udi’s. The company hired her to carry the message of “gluten freedom” to college and university campuses across the country.

Advice from an expert: Be at the top of your game.

Katie Lampkin’s experience is a great example of the ways CU Denver students are finding jobs during tough economic times, according to Jonne Kraning, director of the CU Denver Career Center.

“By being proactive and getting an internship, Katie could show the company she had a vision and passion about their product,” said Kraning.

This spring, the National Association of College Employers (NACE) reported positive news for student interns and new college graduates:

  • Employers hiring students directly from internships—up by 8.5% over last year
  • Employers hiring new college graduates nationally—up by 10.2% over last year
  • Employers hiring new college grads in the western part of the U.S.—up by 38% over last year

Even with an improving economy, Kraning says, the competition for jobs is fierce. “Students need to be at the top of their game. They don’t have to be a 4.0, but they have to show they are excited about the job and fully prepared for the job search. Practice and preparation are key.”

For students, that means creating a stand-out resume and cover letter, perfecting interview skills and, perhaps, shopping for new clothes.

“Even if company executives don’t have a dress code for employees,” said Kraning, “they do care about how applicants dress and present themselves on an interview.”

At the Career Center, students find powerful search tools that will lead them to hundreds of thousands of job listings around the world. They can also prepare for a job search online with the Career Center’s Certificate of Employability, a 9-part tutorial in best practices for a job search in Blackboard.

Kraning also strongly advises job-seekers to engage in online social networking for their virtual job search using BranchOut, LinkedIn, Twitter and Pinterest.

Advice from an Entrepreneur: Think big.

In recent years, Kraning says she has watched an increasing number of students reject the notion of working for someone else in favor of starting a company. “They are natural go-getters and networkers,” she said.

Oliver Keating, who is graduating with a degree in digital design from the College of Arts and Media followed his entrepreneurial spirit.

‘“I didn’t want to be a cog in a wheel,” said Keating. “So I decided to create my own company.”

With fellow CU grad, Jeremy Gee, he has started OJ Production Design,specializing in video, photography and projection art.

Keating admits that it’s nerve-wracking to be starting a business in 2012. “I know the economy is very tough right now,” he said. “But I have big ideas and I always have.”

OJ Production Design has already inked its first two deals—before the company owners even graduate.


Advice from a Networker: Meet professionals in your field.

Kraning also encourages students to network the traditional way—through conferences and professional organizations.

That’s the route Abby Saputo followed. A single mother with two small children, she was nervous about going back to school to get her Master of Science in Accounting at the CU Business School. “I was definitely thinking ‘I hope this pays off with a job at the end,’” she said.

She knew her 4.0 GPA would help in the job search, but she also became active in Beta Alpha Psi, an honorary organization for financial information students and professionals. At regular meetings, Saputo engaged in what she calls “speed dating for accountants,” networking with local professionals.

This spring, she worked through the Career Center to arrange five on-campus interviews. “It was great to have interviews on the campus,” she said, “because you feel so comfortable on your own turf.”

Saputo received not one, but two jobs offers. After she picks up her diploma, she will go straight to work for Anadarko Petroleum Corporation.

“I am so proud of myself,” she said. Proud and employed—it doesn’t get any better.


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