Career Center’s Career Fellows Program to cater more to underclassmen

Assistant Directors of Career Services Shannon Seaver and Jim McCarthy, who help supervise the Career Fellows Program, pose for a portrait in Dowling Hall on Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015. Ana Sofia Amieva for The Tufts Daily

The Career Center is offering a new resource to make itself more accessible to first-years and sophomores this semester.

As part of the newly launched Career Fellows Program, five undergraduate students will promote the Career Center by offering advising services and engaging in campus outreach.

Director of Career Services Jean Papalia said the program was started with a goal to reach out to underclassmen through peer advising.

“It’s a new program this year, and we are really excited about it,” Papalia said. “We really wanted to get students in here to help other students in a peer advisor kind of situation. We’re especially excited for our member students who are coming in to do more outreach to our first-year and sophomore students. We thought getting older peers out there would be a great way to do that.”

Assistant Director of Career Services Jim McCarthy, who oversees the Career Fellows Program, said the Career Center based the program on similar programs currently running at other schools.

“We go to conferences as a staff, and we have been talking with peer institutions,” he said. “Some of them have this program, have started this program and have had success. We want to build on some of what they are doing and also kind of tailor it more to Tufts-specific things.”

McCarthy said the program is designed to work within the infrastructure already in place for first-years. For example, McCarthy hopes to reach out to Area Residential Directors (ARD).

“We are probably going to have them do more specific residence hall outreach programs, like tabling,” he said. “We have been meeting with residence life to try and partner with them a little bit more closely on some things. So right now we are figuring out how the residence life relationship and our relationship is going to work, but it seems to be going really well so far.”

According to McCarthy, the program recruited rising sophomores, juniors and seniors last spring semester. The application process for the five positions was competitive. When trying to decide between applicants, experience was sometimes considered second to enthusiasm, McCarthy added.

“We had a lot of good applicants,” he said. “I think that, of the people that we hired, everybody had two qualities that we looked for. They were really good at working with other people and were really warm. When you are working with students, particularly first-year students who may be a little bit hesitant to talk about some of these issues, having that warmth, in the sense of a softer approach, can really help bridge that gap.”

McCarthy said the Career Center also chose applicants with the idea that the program has yet to gain a reputation on campus in mind.

“The second thing that I saw was that they were connected in the campus community, and they had a lot of other associations around campus,” McCarthy said. “In that first year of building the program, we thought that would be really helpful to have also students who are doing things that are outside academics and have those ties to other things to help us build a community.”

This year, the Career Fellows are all juniors and seniors with interests varying from computer engineering to community health to studio art. They will represent the face of Career Services and aid with increasing the center’s outreach, according to Assistant Director of Career Services Shannon Seaver, who works with McCarthy in overseeing the Career Fellows Program.

“A lot of their work will be providing the opportunity to have face contact with other students,” she said. “They will be doing one-on-one work, they will be doing resume critiques and they will also be facilitating workshops across campus, specifically in the residence halls.”

In addition, the Career Fellows will be organizing more casual events to spread awareness about Career Services’ resources, Seaver said.

“There will be group jeopardy and career bingo, and then they also have special projects,” she said. “The first project they have been given is to plan their own party…which will be in Dowling on Monday, Oct. 19. It is going to be an opportunity for the Career Fellows to be introduced, so we will be inviting students…just so we can have a really informal gathering and get people in the office and give them a visual into where we are at.”

Seaver said that, right now, the fellows are focused on gaining the skills they need to help their peers.

“We did a two-day intensive training, giving them a lot of the heavy nuts and the bolts,” she said. “But really, two days is only two days, so we really set the first six weeks to [include] as much shadowing and on-the-job training as possible.”

The Career Center staff also emphasized that the fellows are not meant to be substitutes for any pre-existing options that the Career Center offers.

“[The fellows are meant] to be that first touching point, and a way to build that connection and that rapport, but then also to better prepare them for when they might sit down with [McCarthy], myself or another advisor,” Seaver said. “So they…might be the first one to answer a question about internships and about where you go to look for internship resources online so that when they come in they are getting more out of that first appointment with a career advisor. So it is not a substitution; it is to enhance what we are already doing.”

The Career Fellows Program is only one part of a broader effort to make Career Services more accessible to first-year and sophomore students, in addition to the First-year and Sophomore Career Seminars, two half-day conferences held during the year, McCarthy said.

“We also offer a sophomore career exploration course,” he said. “This is the third year, and it is a great way for students to get a sense of self-assessment of what are their interests and skills, all the way up to how to find an internship … We do a lot with different classes and different orientation groups and again in the dorms, so we are doing a lot of outreach with younger students.”

Seaver, McCarthy and Papalia are also hoping that their fellows will help them find new ways to improve in the future.

“One of the benefits is the more feet you have on the ground, the more ears you have, the more ideas and strategies [you have] to further our goals,” Seaver said. “[The fellows] can start doing data collecting in terms of the questions we keep getting. Then we can use this data to be strategic in terms of how we use our resources and [how] the Career Fellows move forward with programming.”


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