James Kanning, director of Career Services and Placement, has been helping students accomplish their career goals for more than 20 years.
As director, Kanning said it’s difficult to pinpoint the most valuable resource his office provides to students.
He said the Career Services staff members he works with are extremely useful to students.
Kanning said the Career Services and Placement office has three goals.
First, is to help students figure out who they are, which will help them decide what they want to do in life.
Second, is to help students try on a career and see if it fits through internships and work study programs.
The third is to help students move on from college, and transition into their career.
Before he came to IU Southeast, Kanning attended IU South Bend, where he cut grass and held a job as a vending-route salesman.
At IU South Bend, he earned a master’s degree in business administration and marketing.
After graduating, he took a position as IU South Bend’s assistant to the dean of the business program.
“He really cares about the students,” Kelly Lorch, Career Services assistant senior, said. “Every day is like his first. He’s always trying to please the students and faculty.”
“He helps students learn how to network and get their name out there. He teaches them how to present themselves professionally,” Lorch said.
Lynn Prinz, assistant director of Career Placement, said he always exemplifies top-rate customer service.
“He is IU Southeast to everyone he meets,” she said. “He’s an invaluable wealth of knowledge. Not just for the students but alumni and community members, too.”
Lorch has worked with Kanning for more than a year.
Kanning said he has watched students transform their IUS education into blossoming careers.
He also said one of the most memorable examples of student success was an art student who established a theater program in New York City.
Some students have even returned to IU Southeast to see Kanning long after they’ve graduated to seek further assistence in their careers.
“We once helped a student get an internship in accounting, and helped him find a job,” Kanning said. “Then, last year, his company downsized. Then he came back, and we helped him find another job.”
In this difficult economy, Kanning said he stresses the importance of students preparing for their career early.
He said studies show it takes students between six and nine months to find a job after graduation.
“I’ve had students ask for help three months before graduation,” Kanning said.
The economy and the generation’s changing attitude toward work are the two largest changes Kanning said he has noticed during his career.
“The economy has swings,” Kanning said. “In the ’70s, the economy was up and down, but this is the most difficult time to find a career I’ve seen during my stay.”
When it comes to today’s generation, Kanning said their attitudes have changed.
He said he believes many of today’s students want to be recognized for their efforts, but aren’t willing to commit as much effort as workers of the past.
He said when students focus too much on parental expectations, another issue develops.
“Young people have a tendency to be people-pleasers,” he said. “They need to make a decision for what is right for them — not mom and dad.”
He said employers look for applicants with the most experience. One way to appear invaluable is to have an internship on your résumé
“In certain areas, communications and the medical field for example, internship and experience are essential,” he said.
Kanning said he originally wanted to work in the corporate world. However, after coming to IU Southeast, he chose to stay.
“Something just told me to stay,” he said.
When it comes to advice for students, Kanning said he keeps it simple, and look within themselves.
“Know yourself,” he said. “Be true to yourself, and figure out who you are and what you want out of life.”
By MATTHEW CHINN