IIT is known to have one of the biggest University career fairs in the Chicago area and for that we must give the Career Management Center a significant amount of praise. One of the main individuals laying the foundation of the career fair over the past 2 years has been Ken Smith. Smith holds the positions of Senior Employer Relations Specialist (S.E.R.S.) and Student Employment Coordinator (S.E.C.) here at IIT. If you are a student employee hired over the past 3 years at IIT, your paperwork has been handled by Smith and you may or may not have had a meeting with him. Smith duties include assisting in bringing employers to campus to recruit students, making employers aware if IIT’s programs (S.E.R.S); processing all payrolls for student workers, ensuring that student workers get paid and making students are of jobs available on S.E.C).
Smith has been at IIT for just over 3 years and in that time his name has become synonymous with student employment and all things career related. With a M.S. in Human Resources from Robert Morris University and came into the Student Employment role initially temporarily and the experience at IIT with dealing with students was thus the catalyst to increase his impact on students and also provide the zeal to remain IIT. “There’s about of me that wants to go in Human Resources but there is also a part that wants to remain in career services because I can have a really great impact on students minds…I enjoy working with students more than anything, one-on-one’s and giving them tough love” said Smith when asked whether or not he would like to enter the field which he initially studied.
During his tenure his two biggest issues he has encountered with students are that they are unable to find jobs on campus and that a lot of students do not understand the importance of searching for a job whether it is an internship, part-time or full-time job. His approach to rectify these have been being proactive and finding out what are the needs of various departments and broadcasting available posting to the student body, having one-on-ones and also doing presentations to student organizations. “I don’t believe in jobs, I believe in careers… You are not in college to get a job but a career” noted Smith and is a notion he continuously tries to engrain within the minds of students.
One program which Smith thinks was especially beneficial at his previous institution and could have equal benefit to IIT was the requirement that every undergraduate student have an internship before they graduated. Although difficult to include immediately into IIT’s curriculum it would be beneficial in the long run to students. One suggestion may be to introduce it to individual colleges and then make it a campus wide requirement.
Outside of IIT, Smith is a father of two children and an avid Chicago sports fan namely the Bears, Cubs, Bulls and Blackhawks. He still plays videos games stating that Grand Theft Auto is his favorite and is currently waiting patiently before purchasing GTA-V.
To students, Smith’s words were, “Your career is your responsibility; where you go in life is your responsibility, there’s nothing wrong in asking for help.” “It takes a village to get someone prepared for their career… faculty and staff need to help students ready for their career” and everyone involved in a student’s life should play an active role. Smith has an open door policy and is open to any student coming in seeking career advice, job search or even to talk sports.