Director Mary Willis is creating an inviting, innovative environment where students and alumni can make informed, intentional decisions about their careers and their future.
The Career Service Center, located on the first floor of the UC Merced Kolligian Library, is already helping students find part-time employment, both on and off campus. A Web-based job search system lets employers post part-time job openings at no charge. Employers are encouraged serve as mentors, teaching responsibility, perseverance and professionalism.
Yet Willis emphasized that job placement is only a part of the services offered at the Center. The primary focus is career development. Through the Career Services Center, students can assess their interests, skills, personality styles and values; explore areas of interest; then set goals and gain experience in their chosen fields. The Center also helps students develop professional presence through workshops, resume assistance, and interview coaching.
Students often believe that they have to determine what they are going to do for the rest of their lives while they are in college. That is overwhelming; it makes students afraid that if they choose the wrong career path they are stuck, said Willis. ‘What do I want to do first, or next?’ is a much more manageable question, and the real question, since most people change careers five to seven times in their life.
The Career Services Center is also helping to establish internships, valuable tools for students to gain relevant career experience, gain an edge after graduation, and speed up career advancement. Willis herself interned at a career center at Fresno City College, and that had a major impact on her career decisions.
Willis and her staff now devote their energies to creating a friendly, inviting Career Service Center where students will drop in, lounge and chat, and research their dreams for the future.