Q: Rachel, you are the operations and communications coordinator for the Wesleyan Career Center. When did you come to Wesleyan and what attracted you to the position?
A: I started at Wesleyan in the Career Center in August 2011. As an undergraduate at St. Lawrence University, I had the opportunity to work as a peer career advisor in the Career Services office. I discovered how rewarding it is to work in higher education, particularly in a capacity serving students as they make the transition from college to career. It is extremely gratifying to share in a student’s journey of self-discovery as she or he ventures through the career development process. I have a strong commitment to and belief in the power of a liberal arts education and the world that the liberal arts opens us up to. I knew I needed to be surrounded by those values to be satisfied in my professional life, and I was confident that Wesleyan would be a great fit for me. As a recent college graduate myself, I especially feel the need to be a source of guidance and reassurance to undergraduates trying to navigate the world of work and life after college. I couldn’t be happier with my decision to be here at Wesleyan as a young professional.
Q: What are the main reasons Wesleyan students visit the Career Center, or what are the primary ways the center can help students?
A: The Career Center serves students of all class years, and we strongly believe that the earlier a student starts the career development proces, the better. We work with students to help them decide on a major, learn resume and cover letter writing skills, navigate the job and internship search, learn how to network professionally and much, much more. We offer drop-in appointments daily along with counseling appointments, mock interviews, self-exploration and skills assessment tools, events and workshops, a robust on-campus recruiting program, opportunities to connect with alumni, and access to an abundance of electronic career resources, including our own jobs and internships database. We strive to help students translate their skills and experiences to match their passions and interests, which leads to a lifetime of meaningful work.
Q: Please describe the “operations” unit of the Career Center. What are your main responsibilities?
A: The operations side of the office supports the overarching as well as day-to-day management of the center and strategically plans to ensure long-term success. In my role, I coordinate and implement office-wide events, manage our marketing and communications, conduct career counseling appointments and supervise our Peer Career Advisors program as well as our student staff. I also act as the liaison to Information Technology Services to support, maintain and use the high-end technology the Career Center boasts, including our Cisco teleconferencing capabilities. I’m currently working on a conference Wesleyan is hosting this June called the Liberal Arts Career Network Summit (LACN). We’ll be hosting career center representatives from 31 peer liberal arts institutions for three days in June, which will be a really exciting opportunity to showcase the new Career Center as well as introduce our new director, Sharon Belden Castonguay.
Q:What is the Peer Career Advisors program?
A: The Peer Career Advisors program is a paraprofessional program designed to allow students to assist their peers in navigating the world of jobs, internships, fellowships, graduate schools and general career exploration. This past fall, I had the pleasure of taking over supervision of the program, which currently boasts a class of six PCAs. I’ve worked (and continue to work) to revamp the program so that the PCAs can play an integral role in the educational mission of the Career Center. The PCAs participate in specialized, ongoing training in career counseling techniques, career development resources and other specialized skills in order to provide high-level, professional assistance to their peers. In addition to conducting daily drop-in appointments, PCAs also hold their own thirty-minute sessions with students to spend time reviewing resumes and cover letters in depth.
Q: How do you assist the Career Center with communications efforts?
A: I oversee and implement our office-wide marketing and communications. I work to manage and grow our social media presence on Facebook and Twitter and I write and design the office’s weekly e-mail newsletter. I also create our marketing and advertising materials for the Career Center’s programs, workshops and events. We really value our interactions with students and work hard to make sure students are informed of the opportunities and resources available to them.
Q: How would you describe a “typical” day in the office? Do you have a busy season?
A: I would say there is no “typical” day in our office, but that’s what I love about this work. Every day something different is going on: an employer is here to talk to students about his or her company; an alumna is set up in our interview rooms to meet with students; a first-year student discovers our resources for the first time; a senior lands his or her dream job. We are the one place on campus that sits exactly between the Wesleyan world and the “real world” and we’re lucky that we get to share in students’ transitions to their lives after Wes. Things at the Career Center do work in cycles, especially in terms of recruitment. In the fall, we’re busy hearing about what students did over the summer and preparing students interested in business, finance and government for on-campus recruiting opportunities. Towards the spring, arts and communications, education and non-profit organizations are ready to heavily recruit seniors, and undergraduates are diligently searching for internships. Especially since we moved to 41 Wyllys, our counseling appointments are always booked, our resources are being utilized and students are using the Olson Commons, not only for career-related work but as a central place to study and hang out. We’re glad that students are finding us and taking advantage of all we have to offer.
Q: What are the greatest challenges of your job and how is it rewarding?
A: A challenge that always excites me is working with students who don’t yet know what direction they want to pursue in terms of internship, career or graduate school. I find it so rewarding to guide students through the career exploration process and help them to uncover all of the opportunities available to them. It’s fulfilling to advise students as they figure out what it is they want to do, whether that process is over a period of a few months, throughout their undergraduate career or even occurs after graduation.
Q: Where did you attend college and what did you major in?
A: I attended St. Lawrence University in upstate New York, a small, private liberal arts school similar to Wesleyan. I majored in history and minored in French and education. I truly feel the most at home in small liberal arts institutions.
Q: What do you like best about working at Wesleyan?
A: I love the energy that comes with working on a college campus. At Wesleyan, I really value how passionate, motivated and eager the students are. There’s something truly inspiring about working with a population who believes they can make a difference in the world and takes the steps to do so.
Q: Where are you from, and what are your hobbies?
A: I’m originally from Pennsylvania, though I’ve moved around New England quite a bit. I’m recently engaged and this winter my fiancé and I bought our first house together, so currently most of the time I’m not at work is spent painting our home and beginning plans for our wedding. I’m also a bit of a social media junkie and I love cooking and traveling as well as spending time with my friends and my family.