Top Reasons to Renew Your SoACE Membership

Post by: Amanda L. Walker, Director of Career Services at Austin Peay State University

The Southern Association of Colleges and Employers, Inc. (SoACE) is an organization of human resources, college relations and career service professionals. Our mission is to promote partnerships between career services professionals and employers by providing innovative resources, professional development and networking opportunities to facilitate the career development and employment of students and alumni. SoACE is organized exclusively to create a common understanding between individuals in career services and college relations focused on the career development and employment of the college educated to:

  • Promote and foster relationships among the constituents
  • Serve as the voice of the profession for the southern region of the United States
  • Create and retain leaders in the profession by facilitating the exchange of knowledge and insight
  • Provide professional development and promote high professional standards
  • Identify trends, issues, challenges, and opportunities in the profession.

*(SoACE Website, 2015)


  1. RESOURCES: Did you know that SoACE offers monthly newsletters? SoACE keeps the membership up to date on policies, events, programming, national trending data, as well as, recognizing outstanding members. In addition, SoACE provides webinars throughout the year to spotlight topics that can help employers and career practitioners learn more on effective recruiting, career advising, and branding. SoACE also partners with our 16 state professional associations of colleges and employers to share specific statewide events, programming, and news. We support our members by sharing and providing information from all employer and career support networks!
  2. SUPPORTS ITS MEMBER’S RESEARCH INITIATIVES: SoACE offers research fellowship awards to members wishing to conduct research in the field (through an application and proposal process). In addition to supporting prospective research projects, SoACE creates an environment that is conducive to presenting and sharing research with its membership at its annual conferences. What other organization would offer to pay for your research and then provide you with a venue to explain it?! This is another example of why SoACE is a great organization. soacekglogo
  3. KNOWLEDGE GROUPS: We all have challenges that we face in our day to day roles in recruitment, management, or career advising. The Knowledge Groups were designed as a way to share current challenges, best practices, and a forum for discussion of national, regional, and university trends related to employment and career education. SoACE has 8 different Knowledge Group areas focusing on different content areas of our profession. Talk about a professional support group…and the best part is it’s included in the membership fee!
  4. OUR COMMITMENT TO DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION: The Southern Association of College and Employers is committed to attaining a pluralistic, diverse membership and providing access to all programs and resources to individuals regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, gender, age, sexual orientation, veteran status, disability or appearance. SoACE encourages the recruitment and professional development of individuals from all groups by continually developing, examining, and instituting policies, practices and procedures. In 2013, began and established an award to annually recognize an individual and a group/organization that has demonstrated a sustained commitment to the pursuit of diversity and inclusion in the community and workplace., We are an organizations that is committed to diversity and inclusion and we not only talk the talk but we walk the walk!
  5. CONTINUING EDUCATION: SoACE offers continuing education for participation in workshops and training sessions during the annual conference. SoACE is an NBCC-Approved Continuing Education Provider (ACEPTM) and may offer NBCC-approved clock hours for events (or programs) that meet NBCC requirements. Sessions (or programs) for which NBCC-approved clock hours will be awarded are identified in the program bulletin (or in the catalogue or Web site). The ACEP is solely responsible for all aspects of the program. SoACE is also is an HRCI approved Continuing Education Provider and may offer HRCI approved clock hours for events or programs that meet HRCI requirements. We are providing incentives for our members to continue their professional growth while being a member! june15.c1
  6. ANNUAL CONFERENCE: SoACE Annual Conference allows members great benefits such as, Network with career services and college recruiting colleagues, get up-to-date information on trends and issues affecting the profession, learn best practices that you can adapt for your program, benchmark with like organizations and institutions, explore new and emerging technologies, share challenges and solutions with your professional community, and learn about new products and services for the field that can help you cut costs and increase your productivity. Imagine the possibilities for professional growth and networking with individuals that you can request resources from to help aid you in your current position!
  7. OTHER SERVICES TO MEMBERS: SoACE offers several other services such as the job postings boards and consulting services. SoACE wants to help share jobs with the entire membership to help you fill your hiring needs. SoACE also wants to provide members with consulting services if requested. For a nominal fee, SoACE will help you establish a team that fits your needs as an employer or college which will allow for benchmarking in you field. Often, it takes an outsiders prospective to document challenges and opportunities for your employer or college. SoACE External Review Services does exactly that, they help benchmark what other colleges and universities are doing in the field as well as what other employers are doing in the field as well. Regardless if you need to fill a position or make the case for why you need additional team members, SoACE has you covered!

For current members, the renewal for your SoACE membership opens in July! And for those that are considering SoACE think of all the benefits you can receive as a member and most importantly the relationships you can build with colleagues in your field.


Amanda WalkerAmanda Walker serves as the Director of Career Services at Austin Peay State University. She has ten years of higher education experience, with the last seven in Career Services. Amanda has a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and a Masters of Arts in Higher Education/Student Personnel from The University of Mississippi. She is currently in the dissertation phase pursuing a Doctor of Education  degree in Higher Education at Delta State University. Her expertise areas are employer relations and internships. Most recently she served as co-researcher on the National Study of Unpaid Internships in 2014 conducted by Intern Bridge, Inc. Amanda has presented in both regional and national conferences on Internships.

Your Values – Are They Your North Star?

Post by Claire Childress, Senior Assistant Director at Virginia Tech

2012 University Commencement at Lane Stadium.
2012 University Commencement at Lane Stadium.

One series of events that we can count on to occur every May and June are college and high school graduations. Most graduation ceremonies include a speech made by a celebrity or school connection like the one Eric Schmidt, Google Executive, gave at the Virginia Tech May 2015 graduation. He tied words from Metallica into his speech…appropriate wisdom for Hokies who hear Enter Sandman to get us pumped up at athletic events, especially when our football team runs on the field.

Recently, I saw an article sharing favorite parts from several 2015 graduation speeches, including one given by Tim Cook, Apple CEO, at George Washington University.

“Graduates, your values matter. They are your North Star. Work takes on new meaning when you feel you’re pointed in the right direction. Otherwise, it’s just a job. And life is too short for that. We need the best and brightest of your generation to lead. There’s opportunity to do work that’s infused with moral purpose. You don’t have to choose between doing good and doing well.”

Tim Cook’s quote stuck with me. Values do matter so much. They are a critical reference point as students start on the next phase of their career journeys. Values are one of the key areas we point a student to explore if figuring out majors or career directions. I really like the metaphor of the North Star. How long has that constellation been a guide for explorers? For runaway slaves in the US who used the North Star as a guide to “follow the drinking gourd?” And, for lost outdoor enthusiasts when without some other directional device like a compass or a GPS? Values can be a student’s North Star as s/he determines a career or major.


As students choose a career, why are values important? Many of us spend most of the hours we are awake at work. If our work doesn’t fit our values, we probably won’t be happy. How do I know this? My own experience. As I began the journey to my career, I worked in various roles in banks. Although I never took an assessment at my college career center, I knew my top value was a passion for helping others. I tried to convince myself as I made loans or helped a customer figure out the mess that was their overdrawn checking account, that my key value was being met. But it wasn’t…it was happening in a way that was not impactful enough to suit me.

So, I went back to school, got my MBA, and then directed marketing and PR for a hospital for almost four years. Again, I tried to convince myself that I was helping people through events or promotion that I created and implemented for the hospital, but that still wasn’t enough. Finally, I found my place in higher education where I directly help students through teaching and advising. My career journey took several twists and turns, but I eventually found the right fit for my key value.

How about you or your students or employees? Unsure of what your key values are? We use a number of different tools to help students get in touch with their values. We point them to complete a quick checklist, do a values card sort or take an assessment, MyPlan, that addresses values as well as skills, personality type and interests.

One values activity I used with our career decision making class in the past was the “My House” values exercise which I learned about from an academic support program run by our on campus Student Success Center in the past. It’s an activity to get a bit creative as you or your students consider values, so take out a blank piece of paper or use a blank computer screen and get started:


“Getting their house in order” will be a helpful exercise for students deciding on a major or preparing for interviews, graduate school or full-time jobs. As we coach students or employees making career moves, we can bring values into the conversation and their decision making process. A final thought comes from a quote by William Shakespeare, “To thine own self be true.” May your North Star be your guide as you pursue the next steps in your career journey.


Claire Childress, Senior Assistant Director, Career Services AuxiliaryClaire Childress, Virginia Tech Career Services Senior Assistant Director for Job Search and Graduate School Preparation, advises students and leads a team of advisors and a portfolio of services and programs. Prior to over 19 years at Virginia Tech, she worked in distance education and as an adjunct faculty member at New River Community College, as a healthcare marketer and as a banker. A former President of the Virginia Association of Colleges and Employers, Claire currently serves as SoACE Director of Professional Development. She writes regularly for her career advising blog, CareerChassé. Connect with Claire: LinkedIn

Top 10 Tips for Networking as an Introvert

Post by Tiffany I. Waddell, Assistant Director for Career Development at Davidson College.


Graphic from:

So… being an introvert does NOT mean you don’t have social skills.  As career development folks, we all know this, right?  Right.  However, it does mean that for many of us, being around lots of people at one time can be draining.  I am what you might consider an “expressive” introvert, so I am often mistaken as an extrovert.  While both preferences have strengths and weaknesses, I love the fact that I am introspective – enjoy real conversations [read: no small talk] – and can still make connections in a myriad of contexts.  However, given that my day to day professional life requires me to talk to many different people, and I am fairly involved in our state association, I thought it might be helpful to share my top 10 tips that help me manage networking situations.

1. Find the Bar! Whether or not you’re drinking, it’s always a great idea to position yourself at a healthy distance from the bar.  Many people start here when they get to a networking event in order to take a break from a potentially overwhelming space.  You can easily strike up a conversation as people turn around with a drink in their hand.  Note: If you don’t drink but need an alternative/faux option, try a little seltzer water with a splash of cranberry.  Works for me every time!

2. Set reasonable expectations. When attending an event, prep yourself mentally for what you are there to do.  Is your goal to meet more people? Is it to learn more about the organization’s culture? Is it to meet one or two specific people? Make sure you set reasonable expectations before hand, so that you have a goal in mind.  It is a great way to keep you from getting overwhelmed, too.

3. Start a conversation with a loner.  It’s usually easier to start a conversation with someone who is standing alone, because they will most likely be happy to have someone to talk to – and as a result, are often more personable and easier to connect with.

4. Avoid barging into groups.  A cluster of more than 4 people can be awkward – and tough to enter.  Join the group on one side, but don’t try to enter the conversation until you’ve made eye contact with each person at least one time.  Usually, people will make room to add you to the “circle” of conversation, and you can introduce yourself then!

5. “Look mom, no hands!” Keep at least one hand free at all times!  This means no eating and drinking at the same time if you are at a networking mixer or conference reception; this way, you can still shake hands with people without being awkward and fumbling around.

6. Be yourself. Networking events are meant as starting points for professional relationships. If you can’t be yourself – and you aren’t comfortable in your own skin, then the people you meet will be connecting with someone you’re impersonating, and not the real you. Be genuine.  Authenticity tends to attract much of the same.

7. Be present, and engaged. Ever talked to someone that acts like you’re the only person in the room?  Someone who listens, and makes you feel like everything you are saying is important?  I love those people!  They really make you feel heard.  Keep eye contact, and lean in or tilt your body towards people when you talk to them.  Not in a creepy way – but in an, “I’m listening to you, and I’m fully present” kinda way.

8. Treat people like friends. Unless, of course, you are a terrible friend. Would you go to a friend and interrupt their conversation, hand over a business card, and walk away?  No.  Networking events are not transactions.  Treat new people as you’d treat your friends – built rapport, be trustworthy, and then talk shop.

9. 72 hour rule. After a conference or networking event, you have about 72 hours to followup with a person on LinkedIn or via email.  Reference something that you talked about, and ask what the best way to stay connected might be.  After 72 hours – they just might have forgotten you.

10. Practice makes perfect. Well, not really perfect.  Progress is always better than perfection! The point here is that networking is a skill, like any other professional skill.  It is a muscle that you have to develop and grow.  While others may look like born networkers, they are more than likely just more experienced with it.  Mistakes may happen, but the only way to learn is to get out there and do it!

What tips and advice do YOU have that have worked for you when networking?

Tiffany Waddell, ContributorTiffany I. Waddell is the Assistant Director for Career Development at Davidson College. She has coached hundreds of budding young professionals on how to create strategic action plans for academic and career-related goals. Affectionately known for her “tough love”approach to coaching and people development, she is an avid connector of people and ideas. Connect with Tiffany on Twitter @tiffanyiwaddell or via email at