||Schofield Hall 218|
||Eau Claire, WI 54702-4004|
Student Career Associates Help|
Other Students With Job Search
MAILED: April 14, 1999|
As a professional singer and dancer, Katie Kelly has plenty of experience putting together resumes and portfolios to apply for performance jobs. But the music major was unsure how to market herself for a teaching position.
So with graduation nearing, the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire senior turned to other students for help students trained by the Career Services staff as career associates.
"I wasn't sure what to do with a cover letter and resume for teaching," Kelly said. "The education resume is completely different from what I'm use to. I was in Career Services six times and I worked with three or four student associates. They all thought differently and I got a lot of opinions. It was very helpful."
Providing that kind of timely and quality service to the increasing number of students who use Career Services' resources is exactly what the staff had in mind when it trained its nine career associates, said Jeanne Sinz, director of Career Services. Associates are trained to help students research jobs and careers, as well as advise them on writing resumes and cover letters. The associates also run the Connections program, a program that brings together current students and alumni who are working in a field that's of interest to a student, and work on other projects.
"It's a win-win situation," Sinz said. "We expanded the services we offer and provide a tremendous professional development opportunity for our career associates."
The associates also help get the word out to other students that Career Services has excellent resources and offers career planning help as early as a student's freshman year. Each associate has ties with a different part of the university community, said Susan Ayres, a program assistant who works closely with the associates. That has helped increase the diversity of the students who come in to the office, she said.
"I knew word was getting out about what a great resource they are when students started calling and asking for a specific associate, saying their friend had recommended this person," Ayres said. "Now that happens all the time."
Student workers have always been a part of Career Services' staff, but in the fall of 1998 counselors decided to put the students' skills to better use, said Jean Wilcox, a career counselor. "The response has been tremendous," she said, noting that students reviewed more than 100 resumes in March alone.
"Associates help demystify the process of making good career decisions," Sinz said. "By telling their own stories, they help students see that it's okay to be confused about what they want to do. But they also teach students the skills of taking control of the rest of their life."
Associates are of various ages, backgrounds and majors, helping to ensure that all students feel comfortable visiting Career Services, said Wilcox said, noting that she knew training efforts had paid off when she saw a 40-year-old master's student listening attentively as freshman critiqued his resume. "For me, watching him hang on every word the associate said was an indication of the program's success," she said. "I'm amazed at what has happened and what these students are capable of."
"The career associates are the best resource in the lab," said career associate Betsy Pedersen, a junior communication major from Northfield, Minn.. "We help students with all kinds of questions and when we're not with a student we're working on projects to improve the lab and provide better resources for students."
Pedersen said she has worked with a number of students in majors such as history and English students who love their field but are unsure what they can do besides teach.
"I love helping them discover what possibilities are out there for them," Pedersen said. "I help them figure out what they really like and what they're interested in doing, and then we narrow it down by ruling out career options."
For example, Pedersen said she worked with an education major who was unsure if she wanted to teach in a traditional classroom. Working with Pedersen, the student researched teaching-related fields and eventually decided to look for child life specialist jobs.
"When she came in, she wasn't sure what she wanted to do," Pedersen said. "But we plugged away at it and it paid off. When she was in here the last time she knew exactly what she wanted and she was happy and content when she left."
For Aya Watanabe, a senior journalism major from Japan, a search for an internship in the advertising field brought her to the career associates. "They reviewed what I had done and had lots of suggestions," said Watanabe, who landed a summer internship at a New York advertising agency. "They made good suggestions and it really paid off."
Students are comfortable asking questions and sharing resumes and cover letters with the associates partly because they're comfortable talking with another student, Pedersen said.
"When I see a student wandering around the lab, they often seem more comfortable telling me that they have no idea what they want to do than they would be telling a counselor," Pedersen said. "I think that's a huge element of why this program has been successful."
Career counselors also meet with students, particularly those who say he or she would be more comfortable speaking to a professional, Sinz said, noting that different students have different preferences.
"I just wanted to see someone who knew more than me," Kelly said of working with an associate. "I wouldn't be as comfortable sending out resumes had I done it all on my own. I'm sure the resumes wouldn't have been as professional as they are if weren't for the associates."
"I have the best job on campus because I'm constantly surrounded by this process," Pedersen said, noting that the associate position has helped her develop her problem solving, communication and listening skills. "The resources are always available and working here has kept me on top of my game plan. I won't be cramming when it's time for me to graduate."
Janice B. Wisner
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Updated: April 14, 1999