A big investment in people, programs and renovations has translated to ginormous returns for Career Services.
The numbers tell the story:
• Attendance at Career Services’ events skyrocketed from 606 in academic year 2017-18 to 2,565 in 2018-19.
• Users of the Virtual Career Center more than doubled from 3,700 to 9,303 during that time frame.
• Student appointments increased from 593 in 2017-18 to 1,016 in 2018-19.It’s no wonder statistics are up: Career Services looks so inviting. Located in Thompson Student Union Room 1533, the bright hallway features widescreen monitors advertising jobs and internships. And the windows have been a game-changer for the center.
“Students are constantly looking in our windows and seeing activity going on,” Shelly Drouillard, director of Career Services, said. “We have career ambassadors that we launched last fall, and those are peer-to-peer interactions. So when students see other students in here having fun and engaging, oftentimes that’s the impetus to make them come in to see what’s going on.”
And there’s a lot going on.
Two career consultants hired last year meet with students to discuss their majors and job prospects, and help them prepare resumés and polish their interview skills. Career peer ambassadors assist students who stop by. And a student browsing Handshake, the online interactive job database, hits a button on the monitor in the hallway and pops in to pick up a printout.“Managing your career really isn’t a one-time event, but a process, and we can help you through that process. It’s never too early or too late to start,” Tom Avery, career consultant, said.
“We love it when freshmen come see us because we can help them build that career-ready mindset early,” he said. “And it allows them plenty of time to gain experience that will be of great benefit down the road as employers are really looking for experience outside of the classroom when recruiting graduates.”
“We have staff who genuinely care about helping UToledo students and alumni,” Christine Albright, career consultant, said. “We are knowledgeable about the newest trends in career development and can provide a wealth of information to help students and alumni become successful.”
Positioning students to network with thriving graduates also started last year with Rocket Connect. The free online mentoring platform helps students and alumni who have questions about career paths, businesses, additional education and more.
In its first year, 653 students and 710 alumni signed up for Rocket Connect.
Jimmy Russell signed up for that networking program as a student last year — and as a UToledo graduate this year.
“Career Services assisted me in getting the position as a disability rights advocate at the Ability Center of Greater Toledo,” said Russell, who received a bachelor of arts degree in political science and communication in May. “I discovered the job on Handshake, and I practiced my presentation I had to give during the interview and received feedback to better prepare.
“Students should stop by Career Services because it is a one-stop employment shop. Any help a person could possibly need with getting ready for post-graduate employment, Career Services can provide it,” Russell said. “The staff there are a joy to talk to and are extremely passionate about helping students reach their full potential.”
Russell was one of many who signed the career success blackboard in the center.
“It’s always an exciting day to speak to a recently hired student as they sign our career success board,” Davlon Miller, assistant director of career development, said. “It tells the story of not only the student’s success, but also the success of our office and The University of Toledo.”
Celine Schreidah also picked up the chalk and shared her success. She graduated in May with a bachelor of science degree in biochemistry and is a first-year medical student at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons.
“The one-on-one interview practice was wonderful, and it allowed me to gain confidence in my interviewing skills,” Schreidah said. “I also was introduced to Big Interview, which is UToledo’s free interview preparation resource that is linked directly to the myUT portal. This allowed for a variety of interview types and scenarios, and I highly recommend it to anyone interviewing for a job position or graduate and professional schooling.”
Career Services also can help with dressing for success with the Professional Menswear Closet and referrals to the Catharine S. Eberly Center for Women’s Kate’s Closet. In addition, the center has partnered with JCPenney on events where students and recent graduates received 40% off business attire. More than 1,000 attended these special sales.
“Students’ professional development should begin when they first start taking classes,” Josh Vail, student employment specialist, said. “We invite students, alumni and campus community members to stop by to meet our career development team.”