Career Services Facilitates Transition from Classroom to Career

Career Services Director Elaine Russo (left) consults with a College of the Arts' student about her career goals and interests.

One of the most daunting prospects any college student eventually faces is finding and getting a job upon graduation. Fortunately, here in the College of the Arts, the Career Services (CS) office assists students with finding their career direction in the arts and navigating the transition from classroom to career.

Elaine Russo, director of Career Services, said her office offers a variety of resources and online, interactive tools to help students with career exploration and planning.  Of the services offered, students avail themselves of career exploration support the most, Russo noted.

“A lot of what we do is help students discover what the career possibilities are,” she said.

That was the case with sophomore Sharon Kish, a Fine Arts Studio major with a concentration in painting, who scheduled her first visit to Career Services this semester to get some direction in choosing a career.

“I felt unsure of my personal career options and wanted some help,” Kish said

One of the tools available to students during their career exploration is Focus2, an online questionnaire that helps students discover their interests, skills and values and, then, explore careers best suited for them. Other services the office provides include résumé review and critique, workshops and individual advising.

Career Services also helps students develop a career plan that complements their  intended professional direction, taking into account their academic preparation. Often, that plan may include completing an internship that is in line with students’ career goals and interests, or helps augment their coursework, or both. These internships, usually for credit and either paid or unpaid, offer students an insider’s view of a career path, as well as an opportunity to network with professionals in the industry. Sometimes, the experience also leads to a job offer upon graduation.

Senior Emma Klein, a Television and Digital Media (TVDM) major with a concentration in Television Production, credited Career Services with helping her polish her résumé, which, she said, helped her secure not just one, but two, internships.

“I went to Career Services because I was really interested in getting an internship within my field,” Klein said. “Career Services helped me a lot...especially with my résumé. After CS’s review, my résumé came across a lot stronger and [more] organized -- something I think really helped me land my internships.”

Klein recently served as a development intern at Gulp Pictures, a small production company in New York City, and is currently a creative services and promotions intern at WABC-TV’s Eyewitness News.

She said the internships have taught her a great deal and proven very useful in developing her career path.

“I think that my internships have been very valuable in my education,” Klein said. “Through them, I have gained skills that aren't necessarily taught in detail in classes and they've taught me more about what I do -- and don't -- like within the television industry. (Photo caption: Senior Emma Klein, a Television and Digital Media (TVDM) major with a concentration in Television Production, is a currently an intern at a television station.)

“I've also had the opportunity to network with some amazing people through my internships,” she continues. “And, with this chance to network with professionals, I've gotten a lot of insight into the industry and many tips on how to navigate through it.”

Klein asserted Career Services was instrumental in helping her get both internships.

“There’s no doubt I would not have been able to get the internships I wanted without the guidance from Career Services,” said Klein.

Conversely, Career Services can be just as helpful even if you’re not looking for an internship, according to senior Amber Kusching, who’s majoring in Theatre Studies. Kusching said she already had internship-equivalent experiences starring in and directing theatrical productions on and off campus. However, she contacted the Career Services office to provide guidance on how to accentuate those experiences in her résumé and enrich her career search.

“I first came to Career Services and met with Elaine Russo the fall semester of my senior year because I wanted a different view on things,” Kusching said.

Kusching concedes that although she did the reverse of what most students do -- seek out CS for help in landing an internship -- the assistance and direction she received from Career Services are no less valuable.

“I think that the relationship between me and CS is very unique,” Kusching explained. “[In general,] theatre students provide different challenges…and I need assistance building career-management skills. (Photo caption: Senior Amber Kusching, center, a Theatre Studies major, in a recent production of "The Vagina Monologues.")

“Overall, going to Career Services was important for me [in order] to find professional advice outside of my program that could help expand my view of the professional world. I consider the things I have learned from [CS ] to be tools to add to my toolbox and pull out and use when I need to,” Kusching added.
 
The others agreed and urged all students to avail of Career Services, especially since it’s easy, and requires a minimal investment of their time but yields invaluable returns.

“My advice to other students is to take advantage of Career Services as much as you can,” said Klein. “The hours to seek out help are very flexible and the meetings provided by Career Services are very informative. It is there to help you and can make something that seems intimidating easy to do.”

Kish credited CS with helping her develop a résumé that highlights her academic work and also find an internship. Kish said that, so far, she has invested a little more than an hour but she is happy with the outcome.

“I have only made the first couple of steps needed to secure an intern position but it was definitely worth it because I felt more comfortable with my options in terms of internships and career direction,” Kish said.

“I also advise other students to seek out help from Career Services. It can certainly help you feel more comfortable with possible career choices and even help you take the first steps of entering the career world,” Kish added.
 
Kusching agreed.

“My advice to students is to give Career Services a chance,” Kusching said. “It is an opportunity to look at careers in a different way and it is an amazing, free service provided by the school. It can definitely help give you tools that can be used no matter what your major may be. Come in, be open and expect to learn new things.”

Students are advised to begin the career-planning process sooner, rather than later, even during their freshman year.  Russo stressed it’s vital for students to give as much thought to their career plans as they do to their educational goals.

“Students need to develop a four-year plan for career planning as they have for their education,” Russo said.

She added that students’ relationship with Career Services doesn’t end once they get their degree.

“We have resources to assist students from their first year, all the way up to their graduation, and, after that, as an alumni,” Russo noted.

Career Services is a special unit within College’s Office of Student Services.  The Career Services office also cooperates with the University’s Center for Career Services and Cooperative Education, which, among other services, provides a centralized database of opportunities for students and alumni.