Career Development Center pushes for local employment for App State students with Talent Jam

Cameron Stuart, Associate News Editor

Through short pitches and networking, students had the opportunity to showcase their talents to potential employers in a high-energy environment of Talent Jam.

Talent Jams originated in Asheville to connect job seekers with local employers, with Jams taking place from Hickory to Cork, Ireland.

Geralyn Mitchell is the assistant director of career development at App State and the App State point of contact for Talent Jam.

“There’s something to be said for our students and our alumni who want to stay here,” Mitchell said. “I love it here, and if someone wants to be in Boone, then I want to help them and give them the opportunity to find jobs or something here fulfilling for them so they can stay.”

Two groups of people attend the event: students looking for jobs, and companies or employers looking to hire people. Mitchell said those two groups will alternate with one-minute talent pitches, and afterward participants will network.

“Our hope is to be able to bring together local employers and organizations who are looking for local talent,” Mitchell said. “We just want to focus on that local piece.”

Mitchell moved to Boone from Pennsylvania in 2015 for her job at App State.

“Our students bring a lot of diversity to the area,” Mitchell said. “I think that that’s been a beautiful thing that I’ve seen coming from Pennsylvania and very small institutions and very small towns.”

Mitchell said App State students benefit the Boone economy with their diverse ways of thinking.

Susan McCracken, director of career development and economic engagement, said Boone is not as diverse as major cities in North Carolina.

“The more talent from Appalachian that decides to stay here brings so much more richness and great experiences and wonderful opportunities to everybody in this community,” McCracken said.

Mitchell said when students at App State have an entrepreneurial spirit and stay in Boone after graduation, they help the Watauga County economy by creating new jobs and businesses.

McCracken said some career development events can feel too formal for students, but Talent Jam is not like normal job fairs.

“The thing about Talent Jam is it’s an opportunity to be in a fun, festive networking environment where people are talking about what their passions are and what their talents and skills are that they have to offer,” McCracken said.

The Career Development Center will host a Talent Jam in Watauga County each year for the next three years. The first jam was a trial run hosted at Ransom on April 4.