For returning students, fenced-off bulldozers and men in hard hats may seem like permanent additions to the Sadler Center. However, construction will finally end in September, revealing the long-awaited Sherman and Gloria H. Cohen Career Center, which has been under construction since September 2009. Although last semester’s progress was seemingly slow, the elegant glass building that sprang up over summer vacation is proof that a new career center awaits. For students and staff members alike, this new building will not only expand the current scope of the career center, but also strengthen its existing programs.
“For 20 years, the College of William and Mary Career Center has been hidden in the basement of Blow Hall,” Mary Schilling, director of the Career Center, said. “With the new facility in a central, highly visible and accessible location, programs and services will gain visibility.”
The Cohen Career Center will be open to the public this fall, and will hopefully be the state-of-the-art building for which the College has been aiming. In addition, it will provide a good view of the College’s football games for school sponsors and other important guests.
“The building will look fantastic. Think [Alan B.] Miller Hall, but with a rooftop patio. Also, it will contain a wealth of information, resources, and people who know a lot,” Michaela Rothschild ’11, a Career Center Student Ambassador, said. “The career advisors want the new building to be an open, welcoming place where students can go to get answers, and to study.”
Taking the Career Center out of Blow will give it a more spacious area in which to conduct programs that range from meetings and receptions to tailgates.
The new space and updated technology will strengthen the Career Center’s presence on campus, and will seek to raise awareness of both new and traditional services.
“We have walk-in hours for quick questions about resumes, workshops about pretty much anything, networking events with potential employers, career fairs [and] employer information sessions,” Rothschild said.
New programs, such as more in-depth Career Nights, are also being introduced this year. To carry out these new services efficiently, the Career Center has added more members to its staff.
“With the new addition of an assistant director to work with first-and second-year students, the center will be able to reach out to students earlier and support them in the early stages of career development,” Schilling said.
Reaching out to younger students is one way the Career Center has increased its presence on campus. Although the prominent, new building will likely help, the Career Center is working on other ways to advertise the valuable opportunities available to students.
“I feel like a lot of students are freaking out about getting a job, and the Career Center has so many resources, but no one really uses them,” Rothschild said. “So we have people in need of resources that are readily available. It’s just a matter of linking the two together. That’s my job.”
The Career Center has six student ambassadors who serve as a bridge between the students and the Career Center staff. Not only do these ambassadors help the career center reach out to, but they also directly assist in some of the programs and services the Career Center offers.
“The Career Ambassador program is essential in reaching out to the William and Mary student community, particularly undergrads, to raise awareness about the Career Center’s programming and services,” Shelly Laurenzo, the staff member in charge of the Student Ambassadors program, said. “Once selected, the ambassadors are trained to help their fellow students in multiple areas, whether they’re critiquing resumes, helping with internship searches or making referrals to the career counselors in our office.”
The new school year will provide a fresh round of activities, events and programs that all students are invited to attend. One of the first events is the sneak preview of the Career Center Sept. 16 from 7 to 9 p.m.
An easily accessible and friendly environment will hopefully convince students to make better use of the resources the Career Center offers. For students who want to make use of the center but have no idea where to start, setting up an appointment with a career advisor is a good introduction to the resources offered. Another popular service is the mock interviews, which provide a student with a critique of their strengths and weaknesses as interviewers.
“Interviews are frightening and are the basis for the decisions of many prospective employers, and it is difficult to know how to dress, how to act, what to say and, even simply, how to prepare,” Olivia Houlk ’11, a Career Center Student Ambassador, said. “Therefore, having the opportunity to practice with interviewers from real companies and get their feedback is invaluable and makes the process a whole lot more comfortable.”
Whether stopping by for a mock interview, an advising appointment or just to ask a quick question, the Career Center encourages all students at the College to see how they can benefit from the resources available at the center. After college, there are not many places that will provide this kind of step-by-step instruction to handling the ‘real world’, especially at no charge.
“The building makes a strong statement of the commitment of the College to the quality of our students and what they have to offer as they move forward from college to the world of work,” Schilling said.