Written by Jackie Mora
Many college students can feel like they are floundering trying to find their path and to make the decisions that will affect the course of their lives. Some may feel lost trying to connect what they devote themselves to learning and how to apply it to be successful in the workforce.
The issue of properly preparing students for the workforce was brought to attention at the Oct. 12 investiture ceremony of Riverside City College President Wolde-Ab Isaac.
“Schools and universities are in the business of knowledge, creating it and helping individuals acquire it,” said Salvatore G. Rotella, chancellor emeritus. “The connection between the world of work and what academia has to do is simple and clear, in my estimation community colleges are way behind in the development of programs that can help more people qualify for the skilled jobs available in our country.”
“Reach out and branch out into new ways to prepare people for the jobs of today and tomorrow,” Rotella said to faculty members at the investiture.
Associated Students of Riverside City College President Nigel Item and Vice President Rakhee Uma, are in agreeance regarding workforce preparation for students.
“One of the things that I mentioned in my investiture speech was we are trying to create professional organizations on this campus that students can join for their majors to enter into the workforce so when they go to transfer they can write those down as well,” Uma said.
“So not only will there be clubs, but actual professional organizations that our president will try to look for funding so we can take students on trips to colleges,trips to different businesses if they’re business majors, trips to different hospitals if they’re in some type of medical field and so on. Those are a couple of the things that President Item and President Isaac and I are looking at doing,” Uma continued.
While the campus leaders are at work creating new opportunities for students, there are some already currently available.
Students can make appointments with the career and transfer center for academic and career guidance. Due to budget cuts the career and transfer center has not had a coordinator in over five years according to Monique Greene, the new counselor and career center coordinator.
“There’s only a small percentage of students who actually know exactly what they want to do when they come into college,” Greene said. “Very scary. That’s the purpose of career exploration. Having someone help you, guide you and take your interests,your abilities and making you work to decide what it is that you want to do”.
The career center offers three different areas of career resources for students career exploration, career skills and networking and internship connections.
“The main population of our campus is 18-24 years old. A lot of them have not had to make major choices in their lives,” Greene said. “Choosing a career and choosing a major is anxiety filled for them. So we kind of help ease that anxiety a little bit and say, ‘Okay even though you choose this today, it may not be that two years from now.’”
Career exploration consists of workshops catering to students who may be decided or undecided in their path. Students who aren’t sure where they stand can take assessment tests that will produce up to 100 different career occupations they might want to pursue based on their interests, personality and abilities.
Counselors sit down with students and go into further detail about the results and help students narrow it down and find out what kind of education is needed for that specific career.
“They go home and do some research on their own because we can give them tons of careers to choose from, but if they don’t do the research on their own, it doesn’t mean anything,” Greene said. “Once you start getting experience and getting involved in different clubs and internships and things like that, you may have a whole different outlook three years from now. But we need you to start thinking in terms of future and what you think your future may look like.”
Career exploration workshops college hour will be held from 12:50 p.m.to 1:50 p.m. in the Quad Building, room 115 Nov. 5 and also on Nov. 19. The workshops will focus on guiding students while they decide what career path they will take or what subject they will major in.
Assistance in the development of career skills is another tool offered to students, including how to successfully interview, network and write a resume and cover letter.
“You’d be so surprised at how many students don’t know how to write a resume or cover letter,” Greene said.
Getting students connected to internships whether it’s on campus or off campus is another focus for the career center.
“We show them how to navigate online resources and also other pools that may be hiring for internships,” Greene said.
There are three career skills workshops scheduled for November. All of which will take place from 12:50 p.m. to 1:50 p.m. in the Bradshaw Building, Heritage Room. Resume and cover letter writing will be be discussed on Nov. 3. Students can learn interviewing skills and tips on Nov. 10. Lastly, the basics of networking and internships will be presented on Nov. 17.
On top of career exploration and skills, a career panel is being brought to students.Speakers from the community will be chosen for the panel based on the input of students regarding top major and career choices.
The center will host a panel of members from the allied healthcare field Nov. 12 from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. in the Bradshaw Building Heritage Room.
Some occupations in this field include dental hygienist, medical assistant, music therapist, paramedic and physical therapist.
This career panel will provide information on the education or certification required for each career. Professionals on the panel will also discuss their job duties,responsibilities and personal experiences.
The purpose of the panel is for students to build networking connections with those community members so they can have their questions answered and possibly gain an internship or a mentor.
“You have 13 students come in and say ‘I want to be a nurse,’ but you hate drawing blood.You don’t like math and science.” Greene said smiling. “But if those are things that make you queasy or nauseous and you don’t like to clean up poop or vomit, realistically speaking you’re probably not going to do very well as a nurse. So, let’s look at some other careers. That’s the gist of what we do, just talking to the students and just being real with them. Anyone can do anything they put their heart to, but will you be ultimately happy?”
The workshops will be held monthly and as more ideas and suggestions come in, the career center will phase out any of those that aren’t working as well.
“It’s so overwhelming being brand new and trying to incorporate things that the students want and the students need,” Greene said. “We are always open to suggestions.”
Students can set appointments through the front desk in the counseling department located in the Cesar E. Chavez building or online via a link to the scheduling page on rcc.edu.
Suggestions and questions regarding career workshops and the career center can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.