The inability to communicate in person has impacted every single aspect of our community’s virtual college experience. That is why every QC department has made its own concerted efforts to provide students with the necessary support they need to easily acclimate to an online environment, and the Center for Career Engagement and Internship is no exception. The Career Center has made it its goal over the past several months to be a vital resource for our community amidst the uncertainty of a global pandemic.
The Knight News spoke to two Career Center staff members, Director Zavi Gunn and Alumni and Employer Engagement Specialist David Engel, about how their department has adjusted, what new opportunities they have to offer, and why their services are more valuable now than ever before.
Upon the transition to online learning this past spring, the Career Center was quick to strategize how to best approach providing virtual assistance. They did this by creating a survey in March that addressed the needs of the student body. The survey, which received 101 responses, showcased that students prefer to maintain communication via email as opposed to social media, are mainly available for guidance on Mondays and Thursdays between 12-2 PM, and are in dire need of finding internships and full-time work. The survey worked as a useful jumping-off point to ensure the Career Center ran their operation as efficiently as possible.
Gunn is proud of how fast her team adapted to the unnerving circumstance. “We were all resilient and quick to pivot, which made our team stronger. Our mission statement is ‘educate, engage, and empower students and alumni for career opportunities within a transforming local and global workforce,’ and that’s what we have been doing. Being a career educator you have to be compassionate, patient, empathetic, and creative. You have to think outside the box in how you solve issues.”
Engel is especially enthused about the various initiatives that his team managed to implement even while the world went virtual. The most prominent being the QC mentorship program, which he spearheaded. “We built a community of alumni, faculty, staff, and employer partners to be able to mentor students and give them insight into the world of work. It has been a great collaboration with Alumni Affairs and Institutional Advancement.” Engel believes that bridging that connection has been fruitful because of how important it is to leverage alumni during a time where they can relate to the student’s struggles and provide much needed advice.
Engel is also passionate about the success of the HireQC newsletter, which includes both career and health/wellness related resources. The weekly schoolwide email is simply a condensed version of the expansive opportunities available on the official HireQC website.
HireQC is an online career management platform where students can apply for jobs/internships and sign up for events. Once logged in, you can upload an updated resume and provide any necessary profile information so that the right employers can find you. Gunn was happy to report that there has been a 17% increase in internship offerings through HireQC during the pandemic.
Another thing Gunn is proud of is the Career Center’s commitment to providing stipends for students completing unpaid internships. Over the spring, she helped roll out the Dr. Felix Matos Rodriguez Stipend, which was generously funded by the QC Foundation. “Being able to give students $2400 for doing 150 hrs of internship work was phenomenal.” Winning students were able to apply for the stipend toward a summer or fall internship, which Gunn assisted in ensuring they all secure.
Both Gunn and Engel are pleasantly surprised by how well their department was able to meet the needs of students, and are able to continue doing so amidst the current crisis. From holding virtual workshops and career fairs to providing individual guidance at any hour, they have witnessed higher levels of student engagement than ever before. They also recognize that students are eager for support and direction from professionals that care about their success, something that the Career Center never fails to supply.
If you would like to schedule an appointment with a career advisor, you can do so via the QC Navigate app or www.navigate.qc.cuny.edu. Also follow the Career Center on all social media platforms to stay up to date on upcoming events. www.qc.cuny.edu/career