Workshopping at the Career Center

When most students think of the Career Center at UC Irvine, they are looking to develop or improve their resumes and run in for a quick “Take Ten” appointment with student staff.

“For most upper division students, which is the bulk of who we see every year, they are looking for internships or part-time employment, even gearing up for full-time. We get them kick-started with a resume,” Bob Gomez, the Interim Director of the Career Center, said.

During his 32 years at the Career Center, Gomez has connected thousands of employers to UCI students. He has also found that the vast majority of students who use the Career Center come in because of job-search related issues.

The center maintains programs that support the furthering of career development, presenting around 50 to 60 workshops throughout the quarter for a variety of majors. Workshops are the standard form of education at the center.

Through the Career Center, senior English major, Patricia Chiu landed an internship in the UCI Sacramento Internship Program, and has gained an on-campus interview by implementing the skills she learned at a career fair preparation workshop.

“I wish I took advantage of the Career Center in previous years. This year I’ve practically been living here,” Chiu said.

The Career Discovery Series holds more specialized types of programs in the form of 27 career panels covering a whole number of areas. At each career panel, UCI alumni and local employers give students a look into their potential futures in fields from finance to dance. This quarter the panels emphasize on liberal arts careers and next quarter will focus on the sciences, in addition to liberal arts.

“We are the natural bridge between campus and community when it comes to student career possibilities and internships,” Gomez said.

The technological counterpart to the counselors at the Career Center is the website ZotLink, a career services manager that connects students to employers looking to hire students from UC Irvine.

The key resource for science majors, though, is the Career Fair; so much so, that the center dedicated a workshop preparing students for last Wednesday’s EngiTECH Career Fair. Each quarter, the Career Center hosts its own general career fairs, while specific organizations, like EngiTECH, supplement with their own fairs.

With crisp resumes in one hand and a coveted map in the other, students searched through the maze of students and human resources personnel for their top 10 employer booths.

Career Counselor Mark Carolino hosted Tuesday’s workshop, “Prepare for the Fair: EngiTECH,” that helped students through their pre-fair jitters.

Less than half the class had been to a career fair before, but the feelings of those who had already attended these fairs were mutual; all the students felt nervous about Wednesday’s crowded, noisy and busy fair.
James McCreary, a first-year undeclared/undecided student within the School of Engineering, managed to fit the workshop in between classes.

For McCreary, he chose the “Prepare for the Fair” workshop as his first Career Center resource because he wanted to learn how to approach potential employers.

Dahnish Shams, a co-coordinator of the UCDC Summer Program within the Career Center understands the doubt and nervousness that several students face when seeking jobs or internships.

“Uncertainty is just a natural part of life, especially in college. We all face it and need help facing it. Ultimately, that’s the most beneficial part of the Career Center. It really helps students through the uncertainty and doubts that we all face professionally,” he said.

The workshop had its fair share of doubtful pupils, from first years to graduate students. One grad student voiced the skeptical opinion of others in the workshop that after attending several career fairs, the human resources representatives did not have much pull on whom the company would hire. They wondered how to hone in on the companies that have a more direct fair-to-hire system.

“I don’t necessarily like formulas but this put me into the mindset of what the general right and general wrong is in the interview situation,” McCreary said.

The recurring advice during the workshop was “do your research.” Carolino advised the students to support their “one-minute-commercial” or personal pitch with background research on their desired companies. This is the first step to asking the right questions and being that student that stands out to employers.

“Coming in I had no idea how to approach people, but after this workshop I feel more prepared. He showed us how to present ourselves step by step,” Hegde said.