Career Corner

Aflac panelists discuss job opportunities, networking

Professionals from Aflac held a panel at Stockton on Monday to give students advice on finding a job, networking and becoming successful in any industry.

The panelists included Mary Dressendofer, Regional Sales Coordinator; Joseph Clarke, District Sales Coordinator; Emma Sluiter, National Recruiting Relationship Coordinator; and Michael Fornaro, Market Director of New Jersey.

The panel was an exciting opportunity for students to gain a professional perspective on the industry and to get advice specific to college students.

When asked, “Who should students network with?” all of the panelists offered detailed advice.

“Networking is a connection. I always think, ‘how can I help them help me?” said Sluiter. She discussed the importance of consistency and consideration of the other’s time when building your network.

“Don’t be afraid to network outside of what you want to do,” offered Clarke.

One of the biggest struggles for college students and those seeking employment right now is the barrier of virtual settings. It has become significantly harder to stand out, make connections, and give a strong impression via Zoom meetings and e-mail. The panelists discussed ways to impress potential employers in virtual interviews and other settings.

Dressendofer, who is Aflac’s first female regional manager in New Jersey, said that it’s important to start building a relationship before going straight into business since it’s more difficult to connect with people virtually. She also suggested asking to meet someone in person if both parties are comfortable.

Sluiter said that, unlike most people, she thrives in virtual environments because there are so many opportunities. “The way to stand out is by being consistent with your message,” she said.

Clarke said that dressing to impress is a huge factor in virtual interviews, along with having a clean background and being prepared. It’s best to appear professional and ready for success, he said.

Another relevant topic was rejection, whether it be during the job search or during the career. As students begin to graduate and look for employment, it’s inevitable that rejection will happen occasionally. The professionals offered advice for getting through this.

“Every ‘no’ gets you closer to your next ‘yes,'” said Fornaro. He also emphasized the importance of “knowing your ‘why?'” Meaning, what motivates you to keep going? Why do you want to do this or be a part of this?

“Rejection makes you, you,” said Dressendofer. She said she actually likes rejection because it helps her grow both professionally and personally.

“Surround yourself with positive people and rejection gets much easier since you have a support system,” said Dressendofer.

“Rejections sometimes lead you where you really want to go,” said Clarke.

The panelists all emphasized the importance of networking, getting involved on campus, and putting your best self forward at all times in order to grow professionally.