BY TAYLOR ROBINSON
The semester is underway and students are starting to get in the groove of busy schedules. It’s easy to get caught in a flurry of homework, outside jobs, family and extracurricular activities. Before students know it, they are preparing for graduation, ordering their caps and gowns and getting ready to walk across the stage to accept their diplomas. But what about a job after graduation?
Washtenaw Community College’s Career Services Department strives to answer the questions for students who walk in with panic-stricken faces saying, “I graduate soon and need a job.” Amanda Deacon, one of Career Services’ student advisors, aids students in writing resumés, preparing for job interviews, how to present oneself in the workforce, and more.
“I’m not just the resumé guru,” Deacon said, laughing. “I have skills in mental health counseling, academic advising and career services and I wanted a position to be able to use all three of those.”
Career Services reached out to students at Welcome Day and at their own open house hosted on Sept. 17. Because students aren’t always aware of their services and new location in the Morris Lawrence Building, they find numerous ways to connect with students. Going into classrooms, setting up tables in the Student Center and talking with parents at orientation are just a few.
“If it’s relevant to the student at the time, they find the resources they need and we are one of those,” Deacon said. “It’s another challenge if students aren’t necessarily ready to look for a job or aware they need to start early.”
Starting the job search early is one of the best pieces of advice given by David Wildfong, professional services faculty member for Career Services. If a student comes in lacking direction or having multiple directions, he’ll send them to counseling services to take two assessments: a Myers Briggs type indicator and a strong interest inventory.
“You have to have certain mindsets for certain jobs and certain skills sets for those jobs,” Wildfong said. “And if you end up in a career that you don’t align with very well, you’re not going to be very successful or happy and that can have some very strong effects to our professional and personal lives.”
Wildfong makes it known that students can connect with them during any point of the process. Whether it’s just asking questions about job opportunities or setting them up with employers, they are there for the students every step of the way. He says that yes, students can find a job on their own, but utilizing Career Services can make it a lot easier.
“We definitely want to make sure that we can support the students in being successful to get a certificate, get a degree, and then be able to put that knowledge and training into practice working in a field that they have an interest in,” Wildfong said.
Working closely with Career Services is new Executive Director for Economic and Community Development Niko Dawson who just joined the team earlier in September after working for Oakland Community College for eight years. Dawson embodies the mission of Career Services in the sense that he makes sure to reevaluate where he is at in his professional and personal lives.
“On a personal level, I’ve always been one that wanted to sort of guide, direct, and to grow and develop my career…” Dawson said. “You start to reevaluate what it is you’re doing and you ask those tough questions. Am I learning? Am I growing? Am I contributing?”
Career Services also contacts outside sources to come to campus and speak with WCC students. On Thursday, Sept. 24, Greg Peters, a nationally renowned networking guru according to Wildfong, will visit WCC and give a presentation “The Reluctant Networker.” According to a Career Services flyer about the event, Peters coaches and trains people on how to become a better networker by making lasting and effective connections.
“Everyone knows ‘Yeah, you have to network for a job,’ but actually figuring out how to do it and how to find the right connections and how to organize it inside of your job search is very difficult,” Deacon said. “We wanted to provide another opportunity.”
Although students have busy schedules, connecting with these services on campus as early as possible will ensure that they can get the proper assistance they need and in a timely manner.
“We realize students have incredibly busy lives, some with families, part-time jobs, they have classwork on top of everything else,” Wildfong said. “We realize that but we try to connect with students at the front door…We want to support them throughout their entire education career here at WCC.”
What: Master the art of networking at Greg Peters’ presentation “The Reluctant Networker”
When: Thursday, Sept. 24, 3-4:30 p.m.
Where: Morris Lawrence Building room 150
Contact: Entrepreneurship Center (734)-249-5880