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Sixth Annual Project Ex Event Helps Students Picture Life Beyond Bethel

Students spent Advising Day hearing from inspiring speakers, meeting professional alumni, and connecting with dozens of local employers.

By Monique Kleinhuizen '08, '16, new media strategist

November 16, 2018 | 2 p.m.

Sixth Annual Project Ex Event Helps Students Picture Life Beyond Bethel

About 400 students gathered in Benson Great Hall October 31 for Project Ex. (Photo credit: AJ Barrett '21)

They say you should dress for the job you want, not the job you have.

So, on October 31, hundreds of students were dressed in business formal instead of Halloween costumes or the Bethel sweatshirts that would be typical on campus on a fall Wednesday. The reason? Project Ex, a day-long career planning event hosted by the Department of Business and Economics. That Wednesday, Advising Day, is set aside for students in Bethel’s College of Arts & Sciences to meet with faculty advisors to check their degree progress and map out which courses they’ll take next. But for business and economics students, the day is also a unique opportunity to get valuable insight into life after college—and maybe even schedule a job interview or two.

Hundreds of students started the day sipping coffee and munching on donut holes before filing into Benson Great Hall for an opening keynote session with Bob Stromberg. A regular on Bethel’s campus, Stromberg has spent 30 years traveling the world and performing a unique blend of standup comedy, story, and shtick. He’s a co-author and original star of the theatrical comedy Triple Espresso (A Highly Caffeinated Comedy),which has been seen by more than 2 million people since it opened in 1996. He’s spoken at Fortune 500 companies like General Mills, Cargill, Sonic, and American Family Insurance—and at Project Ex, he gave students tips for maintaining creativity in the workplace and explained how he’s stayed fresh as a creative personality for so many years.

“None of us are born with the gift of creativity, but simply the capacity and desire to express it. It’s something that has to be nurtured,” Stromberg said, describing the creative process as “grabbing” things that intrigue him, “interrogating” that material to discern what it means and what it could be, and then “transforming” it into something beautiful or meaningful. “It’s sometimes a little messy and chaotic, but it’s the most rewarding work in the world,” he says. 

Sixth Annual Project Ex Event Helps Students Picture Life Beyond Bethel

Comedian Bob Stromberg spoke to students at the sixth annual Project Ex event on October 31. (Photo credit: AJ Barrett '21)

Following Stromberg’s talk, students could attend breakout sessions with alumni and faculty, each designed with different age groups in mind:

  • How to Make the Most of Your College Years
  • What Can I Do with a Business/Economics Degree?
  • Networking or Notworking
  • How to Find an Internship
  • The Big Transition: College to Career
  • Bringing Your Whole Self to Work
  • Negotiating My First Job Offer
  • How to Spend Your Paycheck
  • Using Portfolium and Your R.E.A.L. Portfolio for Future Success
  • Data Mining with LinkedIn
  • What’s Next? How About Grad School?
  • What Can I do with My Marketing Major?
  • Healthcare? But I’m Not Going to be a Doctor or a Nurse

Students were encouraged to return in the afternoon for a job and internship fair. Representatives from more than 40 employers came to recruit for internships and jobs.

“In the business department alone, we have 120–130 student internship placements per year, and this is one way to capitalize on some of the strong partnerships we’ve developed,” says Placement Coordinator Lela Sanchez Oslin. As someone who helps connect students with those internships,she has a front-row seat to the shift that often happens in students as their focus moves from life on campus to the world beyond it. As the business and economics department grows and students and alumni continue having success professionally, she also sees Bethel gaining notoriety in the local business community. “Many of these employers know the quality of Bethel students and actively look for their applications,” she says.  

Dave Broza, director of Career Development and Calling,often compares career networking to the biblical story of Joseph in prison in Genesis 40. “The baker’s story ended there, but the cup-bearer went back to Pharaoh,” says Broza. “That interaction led to an interview, really, and a pretty nice promotion.” Broza sees events like Project Ex—and all the resources and touchpoints offered by the Office of Career Development and Calling—similarly.

“I tell students to go into these things with prayer,” says Broza, “knowing and trusting that God is going to put people in their path to help reveal His plans for them. That’s why we do this work.”

Students Smiling

Business and economics at Bethel.

The Department of Business and Economics is Bethel's largest undergraduate department, offering 10 majors and four minors. In summer 2018, $4 million in renovations made way for its brand-new, cutting-edge space on Robertson Center 3rd Floor. The new space includes faculty offices, collaborative learning spaces, and the Thrivent Asset Management Financial Markets Lab, home to Bethel's Student Managed Investment Fund

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