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In the Spotlight: Spring Cleaning
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 MPACE Spotlight - March 2016



An Interview with Suzanne Helbig, Director, Career Center, UC Irvine


Suzanne Helbig from the University of California, Irvine (UCI) recently had the opportunity to travel and present in China and Japan. In this interview she shares about her experience, as well as her insights and a few takeaways for MPACE employers who are getting prepared for a new cohort of young professionals to enter the workforce.


MPACE: Suzanne, can you please describe the purpose of your trips to China and Japan?


Suzanne: In October, I co-presented with Tom Delvin from UC Berkeley in Beijing, China. We delivered two days of training and consultation for university career services professionals on “Key Trends in US Career Centers” at the 2015 Career Education and Entrepreneurship Conference.  While I was there I also had the opportunity to accompany a UCI admissions officer on a high school visit to present the Career Center to prospective UCI students.


In December, I presented the keynote address, “Helping Students Map the Future,” at Osaka University’s first UC/UCEAP International Symposium in Japan. I was honored to represent how all UC schools deliver career services. Following the presentation, I participated on a panel and met with university officials, including the university president, to discuss how UC career services practices could work in Japan and to explore new avenues for collaboration.


MPACE: What were your audiences most interested in learning about?


Suzanne: In China, many questions were about how to adapt Western career development theory in China. There was also a great emphasis on entrepreneurism as a solution for creating employment opportunities for China’s huge population.


In Japan, there is a set “job searching season” for college students, and it occurs in early spring when they graduate. Osaka University would like to send more students to the US for exchanges and incorporate an internship into their experience. However, the timing of our academic years is very different and this presents a challenge. These opportunities provided unique avenues for cross-cultural exchange and to increase the Career Center’s profile globally and with campus administrators.


MPACE: As we roll into spring 2016, soon-to-graduate students are gearing up for internships and first jobs. In your opinion, what kinds of things should MPACE organizations already have in place to make the most of their interns and new employees?


Suzanne: While many interns and full-time offers were extended in fall, summer is when most of these positions get started. To make the most of their interns and new hires, ideally employers have been engaging with them between the time offers were accepted and positions begin. This can take many forms from closed social media groups, in person events, and personal calls, texts, and emails.


Once new hires arrive, ideally a robust training program is in place that includes sharing expectations and work protocols, regular meetings with supervisors and key staff, evaluations, and opportunities for new hires to engage with one another.


MPACE: What is your university doing to make sure that your students are on the forefront of MPACE recruiter’s minds?


Suzanne: We do a combination of inviting recruiters to campus and conducting outreach in the community. Along with the standards – career fairs, on campus recruiting, and info session – we help employers get to know our students in other ways – such as facilitating mock interviews with student clubs, publicizing hack-a-thons, or leading workshops. The more employers interact with our students, the more they see their incredible talent and value.


Along with inviting recruiters to campus, all of our staff conduct employer site visits to learn the latest hiring trends, uncover employment opportunities, and increase visibility for UCI talent. Of course, many of us engage in regional MPACE events and attend the annual conference to engage with the incredible MPACE employer community!


MPACE: What is one thing you wish MPACE employers would keep in mind as they begin their recruiting for new talent this year?


Suzanne: Talk to your career centers to develop a customized and long-term strategy that will help you target the talent you need. We are here to help!


MPACE: Keeping in mind this month’s theme of spring cleaning, what do you wish MPACE employers might want to consider when “cleaning” their workplace in preparation for new millennial workers or interns?


Suzanne: Millennials want to feel that their work makes an impact. So, revisit your organizations’ values and mission statements – and clean them up if necessary. Are they up-to-date? Do you live them day-to-day? If so, share this information with your new hires and walk your talk!


Suzanne Helbig is the Director of the UC Irvine Career Center. She also serves as the MPACE Regional Director for the Pacific South region. Suzanne can be reached at: shelbig@exchange.uci.edu and you can find her on LinkedIn at: linkedin.com/in/suzannehelbig


This Spotlight article was compiled by Joshua Netzer of the MPACE Communications Committee. Joshua is a faculty member at the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication and Director of the Portland Senior Experience Internship program. 


If you are interested in contributing ideas and/or content for a spotlight article please contact Amie Hammond, MPACE Director of Communications.

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