|In the Spotlight: Be Different|
MPACE Spotlight - April 2016
Stacy Harriman is the Interim Associate Director of Counseling Services at the University of California, Los Angeles. She has been in career services for only 6 years but has already progressed to the Interim Associate Director role after serving as an Internship Coordinator, Career Counselor, and Counseling Manager.
MPACE: Our theme for April is "Be Different". In that vein, do you think career centers should make a concerted effort to be different?
Stacy: Career Centers should be open to doing things differently in order to adapt to the changing needs of their students and recruiters and to find methods that are most effective for them. However, I think we also have a lot to learn from the best practices of our colleagues at other career centers. One of the main benefits of being a member of MPACE is to learn from the creativity and experiences of others in order to enhance our own work.
MPACE: In what ways has UCLA distinguished itself? What unique programs or events does your Career Center offer?
Stacy: Under the leadership of my colleague Chris Howell, we have launched a new student leadership opportunity within the Career Center called the Internship Peer Advocate program. The Advocates are roughly 20 stipend-funded undergraduate students who are dedicated to the goal of identifying and promoting internship leads to the UCLA student body.
In addition, our JumpStart Series™ is one of our signature career development programs, in which we offer roughly 18 industry-specific mini-conferences throughout the academic year. These are 3-hour programs that give students an in-depth look into career paths, industry trends, internship and entry-level opportunities, and advice from professionals in a given industry or career field. The content is delivered via presentations by industry experts and career counselors, panel(s) of professionals and/or recruiters, and networking.
MPACE: What advice do you have for recruiters searching for their next student hire?
Stacy: I would encourage recruiters to be open-minded when it comes to recruiting based on major and/or GPA and to keep a big-picture perspective of the candidate as a whole person. Many students’ GPA’s suffer for a number of valid reasons including having limited time to study due to family obligations or having to support themselves throughout college; switching majors later in their college education after having taken many classes that did not suit their skill set; or a variety of other personal, medical, or family issues.
MPACE: What do you see for the future of career services?
Stacy: Increased public interest in the ROI of higher education has brought the career outcomes of graduates to the forefront for many university administrators. Now that prospective students and parents can utilize the College Scorecard to compare institutions on a number of factors, including career outcomes, the entire university has even more of a vested interest in promoting the career development of its students. Within this context, I believe that the future of career services is one of campus-wide buy-in and integration of career development with students’ academic experiences. This will look different on every campus and may develop at faster or slower rates depending upon the unique landscape of each institution. However, institutional investment in career development may include the following: career development courses for academic credit; increased emphasis on internships for academic credit; increased resources for developing opportunities for students; and engagement of alumni in mentorship, externship, and internship programs for current students.
MPACE: In what ways have you distinguished yourself in your own career? Do you have advice for newer members to MPACE?
Stacy: My approach may not be groundbreaking, but it has certainly served my career and my employing organizations well. I have distinguished myself by working hard, producing quality work, and being team-oriented. I strive to lead by example and not expect anyone to do anything that I would not do myself. Your reputation and your relationships are the most important factors that will carry you through your career. To maintain both, seek out opportunities to help others and solve problems that will have a positive impact on your co-workers. Also, try not to make promises you cannot keep – reliability is crucial.
My advice to new MPACE members is to start out small. Attend regional events and national conferences to learn best practices from and begin to form relationships with your colleagues throughout the region. I have made many strong professional friendships through MPACE and now have people across the region whom I can call on for fresh perspectives or to benchmark with. When the time is right, be ready to seize volunteer and leadership opportunities within MPACE in order to give back to the organization as well as expand your own professional brand.
Stacy Harriman is the Interim Associate Director of Counseling Services at the University of California, Los Angeles. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/stacyharriman.
This Spotlight article was compiled by Michelle Mallen. She is a Career Counselor at the University of California, Irvine and can be reached at email@example.com or on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/michellemallen.