The Career Center sits on the third floor of Worner and helps students navigate life after CC. This team does more than you may think.
“We work with students to find different themes or patterns in their lives [by] looking at course work and student activities block by block how all [aspects of a student’s life] connect to define their experience,” Megan Nicklaus, Director of the Career Center, said.
Nicklaus, in her fourth month at CC, has made some friends. Senior David Wright insists that “[she’s] going to kill it,” and junior office intern Fiona Horner testifies that Nicklaus “has been working incredibly hard to revamp” the office and its role on campus.
Wright calls the Career Center “the most useful resource on campus that goes underutilized.” He accredits the career coaches with helping him land jobs both on and off campus, from the Admissions Office to microbreweries.
Nicklaus works with three career coaches (Jason Owens, Gretchen Wardell, and Andrea Culp) and a health professional advisor (Jane Byrnes).
Nicklaus stressed the value parents and alumni serve.
“We have tremendous alumni and parents I don’t think all colleges have as strong an alumni base,” said Nicklaus.
She listed several of the companies and organizations with connections to alumni and parents who have had recent contact with campus, including Bain & Company (management and consulting), DaVita, and Teach for America.
Nicklaus cited the recent Reel Rock Tour stop on campus as an example of alumni reaching out. Reel Rock is a tour that puts on the “world’s best” adventure and climbing films.
Two of the tour’s filmmakers—Peter Mortimer `96 and Josh Lowell `94—are CC alumni. “They came back and shared their stories,” said Nicklaus of Mortimer and Lowell, who encouraged the audience to apply for internships.
For homecoming, Nicklaus asked alumni if they would like to send her short clips for students, addressing “advice and lessons” from the workplace and also “how to share the Block Plan with employers.” The responses were exuberant and many.
The Career Center works with alumni for their entire lives. According to Nicklaus, one of the challenges she faces is how to better serve the “contingency that’s past two years out,” with all the changes in the workplace.
Right now, CC doesn’t insist that students have some type of contact with the Career Center, a characteristic that Nicklaus has mixed feelings about.
“Major doesn’t mean job,” said Nicklaus who acknowledged the constantly changing job market; you have to know the “skills you’re developing,” she said. Drawing attention to the flexibility our generation needs — the adaptability to change jobs, and to have a job that doesn’t exist yet — is key.
From there they do the obvious stuff: critique résumés and cover letters, train students for interviews, connect students with alums.
Nicklaus stressed the importance of the work early: the conversations—as early as Block 1 of your first year—help students start piecing together their stories.
The Block Plan, Nicklaus said, can be a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, Nicklaus praised it is a unifying feature between students and alumni—the obvious idiosyncratic feature of CC that we all love and makes us unique. Nicklaus, also, however, noted the difficulties it poses with career planning.
“We tell students they can do anything in three and half weeks,” she said, adding that career planning is a much longer process, one that means planning in October for a summer internship.
Nicklaus and her colleagues often send students away with small, manageable assignments he or she can do every day during a block.
“Twenty minutes a day” spread out over the course of a year does more than the high-intensity, brief-duration bursts of work that our schedule cultivates, Nicklaus said.
They send out a Career Center listserv every week with opportunities for jobs, internships, and on-campus events. A big part of Nicklaus’ job is taking all of the many opportunities and figuring out a way to communicate them effectively to students, without clogging inboxes.
For homecoming this weekend, they’re hosting “coffee chats” with students and alumni in Worner. The rest of the year, any student can walk into the Career Center between 12:30 and 2:30 on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday without an appointment to meet with a coach.