Utilizing Student Resources

The Social Sciences Academic Resource Center provides workshops and career pointers to undergraduates across all academic disciplines.

Under the School of Social Sciences, the Social Sciences Academic Resources Center (SSARC) provides  workshops and programs on topics such as community service, public speaking and leadership to ensure students develop skills necessary to career success before sending them out to graduate schools or work fields.

The Social Sciences Academic Resource Center is a hectic world in itself, with over 80 student staff overseen by two directors to conduct various types of career-related programs.

Andrew Gonzales, associate director of SSARC, said he is proud of serving the UC Irvine community in the past eight years. His job is essentially to equip, empower and encourage students during their time at UCI. He defines SSARC as a type of career center that “specializes primarily in the field of social sciences, [which] includes getting students to graduate schools and professional schools.”

Unlike most other resource centers on campus, SSARC allows students from all majors to benefit from its cross-disciplinary programs, such as the Professional Internship Program, the Community Service and Leadership Program, the Research Education Advancement Program and the Leadership Development Program.

The secret behind everything that SSARC does is the theory of Five Pillars of Education, created by Dr. Castellanos and which, according to Gonzales, is the reason that turned a former student with a 2.4 GPA into a doctorate student.

“Through interaction with recruiters and consultation, we find that [getting accepted into graduate schools and jobs] isn’t significantly about the standard metrics,” Gonzales said, adding that an outstanding portfolio should show proofs of a person’s excellence in the five pillars — academics, research, internship, leadership and community service.

Founded in 1992 as a resource library, SSARC transformed into an interactive resource center under the leadership of Dr. Jeanett Castellanos, director of SSARC ever since 1999, who brought in the theory of the Five Pillars of Education as the model after which SSARC seeks to train students.

“Students who go through the academic system thinking good GPA equals job, [and] equals acceptance, but in the social sciences at least, that’s not the case,” Gonzales said.

Recognizing the need to educate students on the significance of equipping themselves in all of the five pillars, SSARC is constantly developing practical training programs to help students get as many hands-on experiences as possible in areas such as research, community service, internship and leadership.

“In 1980s, only 5 percent of [college] students did internships, and that’s where the myth of one-page resume comes from because you don’t have enough to actually write a substantive document,” Gonzales said. “But as of 2004, research shows that 75 percent of students are engaging in at least one internship, which means today students have to do multiple internships to be competitive for graduate schools and jobs.”

The Professional Internship Program at SSARC is open to every undergraduate across all academic disciplines.

“It gives students general vocational training so that they qualify to legally do an unpaid internship,” Gonzales said. “We teach students about leadership in that class, about professional business ettiquette, office politics and everything students apparently don’t know much about when it comes to working in the field.”

The Community Service and Leadership Program has been quite busy; just this year, students in the program have already completed 44 community service activities and have around 20 more scheduled for the rest of the quarter.

The Leadership Development Program that Gonzales is in charge of hopes to inspire and train leaders in the three C’s: compassion, charisma and conscientiousness. Unique to the leadership programs at SSARC is that Gonzales and his program coordinators pay attention to students’ growth in not only the practical skills, but also the valuable lessons gained through participating in leadership activities and community services.

“We want our leaders to be compassionate,” Gonzales explained. He added a saying he’s always told the future leaders-to-be: “If you lead with your heart, your hands will follow.”

Coming alongside freshmen to seniors, all SSARC student-managers are knowledgeable to answer questions regarding internships, jobs or graduate schools.

“We have exclusive resume styles here [and] exclusive statements of purpose here — you won’t get this anywhere else,” Gonzales said in regards to resume critiquing. He said that his training in industrial and organizational psychology could make an ordinary piece of paper “a more persuasive document.”

Each SSARC student-manager also specializes in a particular area to mentor students practically with specific needs or goals in mind. When students first come in, they will talk to a student-manager to find out what kind of services and help will best suit their needs. After narrowing down needs, students can make an appointment with one of the student-managers, who are all trained and well-versed with their own specialties such as graduate schools, internships, etc.

“There’s no reason why students should not come to SSARC because there’s reason why they should not succeed,” Gonzales said. “We often say [that] students go to Student Affairs to graduate, but they should come to us to succeed after graduation.”

Located in the Social and Behavioral Sciences Gateway, SSARC opens Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Friday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.