Southeast Missouri State University student publication

Building professionals through partnership with the Chamber of Commerce

Wednesday, March 8, 2023
President and CEO of the Cape Girardeau Chamber of Commerce Rob Gilligan gives the opening remarks and announcements at First Friday Coffee on March 3. Gilligan shares information on new members to the Chamber and discusses the 2023 Annual Celebration Dinner.
Photo by Allison Lauter

The Cape Girardeau Chamber of Commerce is seeking to flourish its relations with the Southeast campus and students in terms of professional development through multiple networking opportunities, professional development conferences and employment possibilities.

The Chamber of Commerce is a nonprofit organization that advocates for small businesses and the betterment of the region throughout the community. They help create jobs and retain workers and focus on community and economic development.

More engagement from SEMO students is a goal in 2023 that the Chamber has set in coordination with the university.

The Chamber is hosting multiple professional development opportunities for SEMO students and young adults including the Emerge Young Professionals Summit in April, The Economic Outlook Conference this upcoming fall and the expansion of Leadership Cape which would connect students to the community.

Rob Gilligan is the President and CEO of the Cape Girardeau Chamber of Commerce. He said having an institution like SEMO within the region is an advantage to the community due to the amount of educated professionals within the community.

“Chambers of Commerce are a great way for students to become engaged, connected, and to build lasting opportunities and relations with community members,” Gilligan said. “Getting involved with membership organizations that are professional in nature tend to be strong builders of connections, skills, and opportunities.”

The first Friday of each month the Chamber hosts what is called ‘First Friday Coffee’. First Friday Coffee is a time where business owners, Chamber members and young professionals all gather to network, update, recruit and discuss upcoming events.

First Friday Coffee is open to students and faculty with a focus on networking opportunities and employment opportunities. The next First Friday Coffee will be April 7 at the Century Casino Event Center at 7 a.m.

SEMO’s partnership with the Chamber of Commerce opens multiple avenues for students to see their presence and recognize their initiative.

Southeast requested a ribbon cutting ceremony from the Chamber for the recently remodeled bookstore inside the University Center on campus. Celebrating on campus achievements with the community is also a part of how the Chamber supports SEMO.

Sports Management senior Jaden Kight is the communications intern at the Cape Girardeau Chamber of Commerce. Kight is responsible for communicating the Chamber’s business with the community while also creating advertisements for the Chamber.

“I have learned so many different computer programs and softwares through this internship,” Kight said. “[The Chamber] has given me a chance to apply the knowledge that I have learned in college at SEMO like working with a team, and am able to apply these skills outside the doors of the Chamber.”

The Chamber also helps students with experiential learning opportunities while at Southeast. Students are able to gain real-world experience in a fast paced environment while applying the skills they have learned at SEMO while in person with a professional.

Director of Career Services Dan Presson helps connect students with jobs in the region as well as nationally. Presson also helps develop students' resumes and teaches them how to network across various platforms.

“College is a platform on which they can go further faster and the fact that this town has a robust Chamber of Commerce means students have incredible opportunities to network, test their skills and network with businesses,” Presson said. “This [the Chamber] provides students with an unreplicable opportunity to better themselves, test their skills and make sure they are prepared for life post graduation.”

Building professionals is a goal for career services as well as the Cape Chamber. Together they are able to craft students or recent graduates into the young professionals that businesses are wanting to employ.

To connect with the Chamber of Commerce visit Cape Chamber | Member. To create opportunities as a student visit Career Services | SEMO.