Q&A with new CDC Director
How would you describe the structure of your team, and how it has changed over the years?
We have evolved from a generalist model of career advising into a "liaison" model of master's level counselors who each specialize in specific academic populations and corresponding employers. This level of specialization allows our advising team to build rich relationships with employers, students, and faculty in order to become knowledgeable about each population’s interests and potential career options. Our advising model, in the spirit of the Jesuit tradition of educating the whole person, is an in-depth process of helping a student or alum not only solve their most pressing problems, but it also creates space for conversation about vocation, calling, and life-long pathways.
How is the local economy impacting career development center services?
What is interesting about the local economy is that while it is benefiting from the recovery of the Great Recession, it's still a "who you know" town. In response, we have increased our employer relations activities and improved our networking channels. Also, local alumni engagement has become more critical. It is clear to me that investment in alumni engagement is as important as employer engagement.
Are there specific skill sets students should be checking off their list each year?
Absolutely! First, students can begin skill-building at any time, with almost any experience! The important piece to skill-building is being aware of the skills learned from a job, leadership, or internship experience. Tracking and growing skill sets is so important for all undergraduates, as it helps students build self-awareness, which consistently translates into a stronger job interview!
Second, students need to take note of skills that they excel at and enjoy building. These skills are usually big clues about potential future careers.
Finally, I don't believe there is such a thing as a "useless job." I hear this phrase often with students and I always challenge that statement by asking questions about employability skills that were probably developed from flipping burgers, child care, or even a paper route. Were you punctual? Reliable? Organized? These are all skill-building opportunities.
What do you think is the biggest misconception about the CDC (from a student perspective)?
The first is that we require a pre-approved resume for use of RamblerLink because we want to discourage students from using the database. That could not be further from the truth! We require a resume review in order to position our students and alumni as competitively as possible. The change was actually a suggestion from a recruiter! Another common misconception is that we find jobs for students. The reality is that we provide resources, connections, and a lot of coaching, but each student must be his or her own advocate. I have no doubt that students will find what they need from our talented staff if he/she embraces the steps to do it.
What advice would you give to someone on the verge of graduation with no job prospects?
The college experience is about structure, so for most people, an extension of that structure in a post-graduate period is critical. Create a daily schedule and give yourself weekly deadlines, such as sending out 10 resumes and setting up three informational interviews. It is easy to become fatigued during a job search, so build in activities that help you monitor the quality of your job search campaign. For example, ask for help with proofing your job search documents or set up a mock interview in order to get some objective feedback. Allow yourself breaks and opportunities for reflection on topics besides your job search. Go to the local public library, take in a movie in the park, or volunteer your services at your local food pantry. Nurturing yourself, as well as your resources, will serve you well.
What kind of role do alumni play in terms of engaging with Loyola students and new grads? How integral are alumni to your office's success?
Alumni play a critical to role to Loyola and new grads both as ambassadors of the institution as well as a valued expertise resource. Alumni are concrete examples of where experience can take people and how it impacts lives, which is why alumni are needed for special events such as panels, mentoring and networking programs, and in advisory positions—we need their perspective on life just as much as we like to receive their business cards.
What can you share about the CDC's programming plans for the 2014–15 academic year?
We will provide the career staples such as job fairs and job shadow week, but we will also be increasing the number of career course sections we're offering. We’ll also partner more with other career-focused campus offices, and we hope to be making an announcement about a new student and alumni initiative that we believe will be well received. So, stay tuned!