NORFOLK, Neb. - Hunter Bergman can identify with students at Northeast Community College who participated in a luncheon recently that was designed to interact with business professionals. He was there himself just a few years ago.
“It feels weird being on the other side of the table as a professional, instead of being a student. I felt like I should've brought my backpack and resume,” he posted to his LinkedIn account shortly after the Northeast Business Division’s annual networking luncheon.
Approximately fifty students in the Accounting, Academic Transfer, Administrative Professional, Business, Culinary Arts, Early Childhood Education, Information Technology, Paramedic, and Veterinary Technology programs met with thirty business professionals during the luncheon in the Lifelong Learning Center.
“This is such a valuable opportunity for our students to experience networking with the outstanding business professionals in our community,” said Angela Shaffer, business instructor. “Additionally, students can begin to build a mentoring relationship with the professional attendees and create a lifelong connection with local organizations.”
Students who attended the luncheon were asked to circulate among the tables and engage with the business professionals including Bergman, a 2019 Northeast business administration and management graduate, originally from Neligh. He also earned a bachelor’s degree in marketing and entrepreneurship from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Bergman is founder of XPM, a brand marketing company in Norfolk that specializes in crafting compelling stories that connect with audiences through digital platforms.
Bergman said it was a bit strange for him to attend the luncheon because although he is now a business professional, he still has a kinship with the students.
“I feel like I'm still young. I still feel like I'm in college and I'm doing the same things, except now, it's just full time.”
Being on the other side of the table at the luncheon was enjoyable and exciting for Bergman as he feels he gained experiences to give advice to students who are working on developing their career paths. He said by talking with the students, he saw a little bit of himself when he was their age just a few years ago.
“My advice to them was to just get involved and try new things and get outside of their comfort zone,” he said. ‘Do the things that are scary to you but maybe wouldn't come naturally or you wouldn't do naturally,’ he told them. Building the foundation to my networking skills and having the mentors and friends I have has allowed me to get to where I am today.”
Bergman appreciated the opportunity to participate in the Business Networking Luncheon as both a student at Northeast Community College and now as a business professional. He said it makes him realize how much he has grown and how Northeast prepared him to attend UNL and become an entrepreneur operating his own company.
“Looking back, one of my most valued skills came in (Instructor) Cara Hoehne's business communications class. Networking! Now I have to make sure that I look and feel professional networking with people who have been in the industry for 30-plus years. With the foundational points of networking I learned in Cara’s class, I encourage students to not miss taking her business communications class because I think it really helped me.”
In addition to Shaffer and Hoehne, other business instructors participating in the luncheon were Stacy Anderson, Sara Barritt and Karen Spray. Any business professional interested in taking part in next year’s networking luncheon at Northeast Community College may contact Shaffer at (402) 844-7297 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Overall, it was great to meet the next wave of professionals graduating from Northeast Community College,” Bergman said.
Hunter Bergman, founder of the brand marketing company XPM, speaks with Hugo Gutierrez, a Northeast Community College business administration student from Comillas, Spain, during the college’s Business Division’s annual Spring Business Networking Luncheon in the Lifelong Learning Center recently.