You are in Taffner Field House, dressed to impress, with your résumé in your hands with the hope of securing your dream job. You’re filled with great excitement and nerves as you walk to one of the many tables where recruiters are eagerly waiting to speak with you. You’ve spent days practicing what you’re going to say.
However, the real preparation and planning occurred months ago in the offices of the many hard-working individuals at St. John’s University’s Office of Career Services.
This past summer, the Office of Career Services added two awards to their own résumé when they received the Diversity Inclusion Excellence Award and the Members’ Choice Award at the National Association of Colleges and Employers’ Annual Innovation Showcase Awards Ceremony.
The awards were based on two categories: how easily the career center levels the playing field for economically disadvantaged students and how well they create a campus-wide career community.
These were not the only awards the Office of Career Services won this year.
“We’ve also received awards from NASPA (National Association of Student Personnel Administrators), EACE (Eastern Association of Colleges and Employers) and MNYCCPOA (Metropolitan New York College Career Planning Officers Association) this past year,” Denise Hopkins, executive director of Career Services, said.
These awards demonstrate how hard St. John’s works to prepare its students for the new and ever-changing workforce.
“Preparing students for successful lives in the 21st century world is a top priority for our University leadership,” Ms. Hopkins said. “The University has placed a great deal of emphasis on ensuring that St. John’s students are internship and job ready and that our students are receiving the best possible career services,” she said.
The Office of Career Services is always improving and Ms. Hopkins believes that it will continue to do so.
“Over the past few years, the careers office has evolved rapidly to expand our services to reach students in every major and many more employers in more diverse fields,” she said.
“This intense focus on career preparation extends beyond the Career Services department because we know it takes an entire campus to prepare students for life post-college,” Ms. Hopkins added.
She believes that the St. John’s career services stands out.
“The single most important distinguishing element is the quality and scope of our staff,” Ms. Hopkins said.
“St. John’s students receive cutting-edge support from University Career Services. We provide access to the best on-line resources, sponsor hundreds of top quality programs and events on-and-off campus each year and, most importantly, have a team of outstanding career professionals dedicated to helping our students discern the career path that is right for them and launch successfully into the competitive internship and job market.”
Ms. Hopkins also said that the office of Career Services works closely with various members of the St. John’s community.
“We’ve worked collaboratively with faculty, chairpersons, deans, administrators, alumni and employers to shift our culture away from just a career center offering a few programs and services, towards the creation of a vibrant Career Community in which faculty, administrators and alumni feel some ownership over students’ career success, with career services professionals in the center serving as connectors and orchestrators of opportunity,” she said.
Not only has career services partnered with administration, faculty and alumni in order to strengthen the career development of students, but it has also collaborated with students in a program called Career Peers.
Career peers are students who are trained to assist other students with their cover letters, résumé, job and internship searches and much more.
“National research we conducted here at St. John’s points to the growing influence of peers on students’ decision-making,” Ms. Hopkins said.
“Students often seek out other students for advice on careers. We established the Career Peers program to arm students with the information they need so that other students are getting the right advice and in order to serve an increased volume of students,” she said.
Ms. Hopkins added that having students be the “face” of the Career Services office makes students feel less intimidated when seeking help.
Not only has Career Peers been beneficial to the students who come into Career Services for help, but it has also been beneficial to those students in the Career Peers program.
“My favorite thing about being a career peer is actually the training,” junior Shanyse Clark said.
“While I’m learning to teach other people things and preparing other people, I’m actually becoming more prepared myself,” she said.
“As a career peer, I hope to gain a voice within the student body and among my peers at St. John’s,” Clark added.
“This experience has been teaching me a lot, like how some students are uninformed or scared to just come into the office,” she said.
Clark also said, “The Career Peers program is a door to help students have a voice as well as to help them to be comfortable to come to students for advice who are just like them and are in the same position.”
Although Career Services has made many strides in the last couple of years, Ms. Hopkins hopes that it will continue to grow in the years to come.
“We will need to continually adapt to the ever-changing needs of the global economy and the changing needs of our students,” Ms. Hopkins said.
“While the core purpose of our office will remain the same, I hope that how we go about fulfilling that purpose evolves as rapidly as the work world that our students are entering,” she said.