Tucked away on the third floor of Martino Hall at 45 Columbus Avenue, the Office of Career Services’ welcoming environment serves as a place where students can develop their professional identities and prepare for their futures.
I sat down with Christina Jacques, the assistant director of employer relations, Christie Vuoto, an employer relations specialist, and Jorimel Zaldivar, the alumni counselor, to get a sense of Career Services’ offerings and goals. The enthusiasm these three exude is representative of the Office’s atmosphere.
Though they may come from different backgrounds, all of the counselors in Career Services have a “desire to help students in their professional development,” Zaldivar said.
The counselors’ experiences vary from mental health counseling to human resources and share the commonality of a liberal arts education. Jacques added, “It’s people that want to help others and work together to help each other grow.”
Jacques, Vuoto and Zaldivar all agreed that the Office celebrates collaboration and growth. “We love working as a team,” Zaldviar said.
This commitment to growth extends to the various programs and career advising offered by the Office.
“We help students develop their narrative, help them explain how their student club relates to a position they’re applying for and how they can use that to their advantage to be a unique candidate,” Vuoto said. As a graduate of Loyola University of Maryland, a Jesuit and liberal arts institution, she added that she feels students often don’t realize that they can “market” their liberal arts education.
Career Services “can help you verbalize the values of your liberal arts education, which are transferrable across all industries. Because the economy is constantly changing, those [liberal arts] mindsets that you have (being collaborate and thinking critically) will go with you across all industries,” Vuoto explained.
Career Services offers various assessments to help students determine potential careers and are willing to discuss careers at any point, but they do not categorize students and lead them toward specific careers based on their major. They understand that students have various interests, and they work to view the individual as a whole—cura personalis, to use Jesuit terminology.
“Sometimes, a student will come in to have the conversation about a resume or a cover letter, and that conversation can transpire into so much more—who they are as a person, what their values are,” Jacques said, “It doesn’t have to be such a rigid reason why you’re coming in to see us. If you just want to come in and chat [about majors or careers], we can talk to you about that.”
Zaldivar added, “It’s nice to talk to somebody and share your dreams and share your interests with another individual because eventually, you’re going to need to tell your story to employers, so this a good way to give your first draft, and we can help you shape that.”
One way the Office helps students shape their goals and dreams is through the Fordham Futures program. Fordham Futures is Career Services’ career development and professional planning program that acts as a guideline for students to plan their futures incrementally.
The program is outlined by year, so “freshman year is about being curious, sophomore year is about being passionate, junior year is about being prepared and senior year is about being connected,” Vuoto said. It is meant to inspire students to ask questions related to the theme of the year they are completing.
Though it highlights each year specifically, Fordham Futures is “a nonlinear approach to career development, meaning we start with you where you’re at,” Vuoto said.
“We’re here to help no matter where you are and we’re not going to make you feel guilty for the fact [that you didn’t come in sooner]. We’re going to help you wherever you are in the best way we can, even as alumni,” Jacques assured. She joked, “We won’t shame you.”
Jacques pointed out that Fordham alumni have access to Career Services for life.
Among the many services that Career Services offer are workshops, counseling, the Fordham Mentoring Program, which is available to juniors and seniors, and on-campus recruiting.
Vuoto suggested attending the workshops to students who are new to Career Services. The workshops, held daily at various times, are meant to prepare students to better present themselves and to better interact in the work world. They were created based on feedback from employers on Fordham students’ weaknesses. Completing both workshops gives students access to the Jobs Board on CareerLink, where they can search for internships and jobs.
Students can also schedule appointments with any of the career counselors via CareerLink. “We will have students come in who are very loyal to specific counselors while others shop around,” Vuoto said. She joked that each counselor tends to develop a “posse” of loyal students.
As far as “getting your foot in the door,” Jaques invited all students to stop by the office to see that “it’s a nice environment, a nice atmosphere.” She wants students to know that “we’re not scary and we’re here to help.”