“I wanted the students to be able to hear about the experiences that these executives have had during their careers in their respective industries,” Professor Jaggers said.
“I would like for them to be able to learn about the challenges that each person has come across in their careers and how their paths have brought them to their current positions. Additionally, many of the panel members have extensive professional backgrounds, and I would like the audience to hear about the great assets that having good soft skills can provide.”
Soft skills refer to a group of personal qualities, habits attitudes and social graces that make someone a good employee and compatible to work with. Rick Jaramillo, a panelist who served as a Senior Vice President with Bank of America, noted how companies value soft skills because research suggests ( and experience shows) that they can be just as important an indicator of job performance and formal skills.
Texas Representative Brandon Creighton, who represents the Montgomery County area, emphasized that he employs soft skills to represent “constituents in Austin and ensuring that their voices and needs are heard.”
Jaggers’ approach to the series was as innovative as the event itself. Her students were assigned individual speakers to chaperone. In this manner, the planning and coordination of the event was designed to enhance the very skills discussed at the event. Students not only had face-to-face contact (and communication) with the speakers, but also learned the importance of being prepared, anticipating needs, and engaging professionals in conversation.
These skills were put to the test during a forty-five minute “meet-and-greet” held prior to each of the panel events. Students, panelists, University administrators, and the public were invited for some great food…
…and to mix and mingle, giving students additional information about skills and careers and providing them with the opportunity to enlarge their professional network.
For our part, the Junior Fellows participated in the event as volunteers, working alongside Bearkat One to register students.
Moreover, many of our members also attended the event, learning from the impressive panels put together by Professor Jaggers and her classes.