While meeting on the Explore Floor (located on the 2nd floor of the new Berney Family Welcome Center), Director of Parent & Family Relations Mindy Weixelman sat down with Career Center Coordinator Jared Meitler to hear the latest news about career exploration resources.
Mindy: Hey Jared! Thank you so much for meeting with me, especially the day after the annual Majors, Minors and More Fair yesterday. How did it go?
Jared: It went really well. We saw an increase of 100 more students attending the fair than last year.
Mindy: Congrats! I’m glad to hear that students got the message about the importance of the fair, and made a commitment to attend.
As you are aware, VP of Student Life/Dean of Students Dr. Pat Bosco recently used Facebook LIVE to provide virtual tours of your new home in the Berney Family Welcome Center and the new location for Tutoring Services in Holtz Hall. He is eager to share academic resources available to students knowing that this is the time of year that many students are meeting with their academic advisors and making decisions for spring semester. We thought this would be the perfect time to also share information with parents and families about the programs and services that you and your team provide to students. Ready for some questions?
Jared: Ready! Fire away.
Mindy: Let’s start with an easy one. Tell us about the Explore Floor within the Career Center, formerly known as the Academic Career Information Center (ACIC).
Jared: Our mission at the Career Center is to facilitate the career readiness of all students and a key step in career readiness is exploring work interests, values, and skills to choose a major that gets students excited about learning. As you said, this is such a convenient time for us to discuss this topic as students are preparing to enroll in classes for the spring!
Mindy: What is your role as a coordinator at the Career Center?
Jared: I provide oversight for the major and career exploration resources available at the Career Center which includes teaching and mentoring peer career specialists who administer our FREE career assessments with students who are exploring their options. Simply put, my role at the Career Center is to ensure students have a place to explore their options and find their fit in an academic program at K-State.
Mindy: When I walked into your area, I saw career specialists working with students at computers. How many staff/students work within Explore Floor? Are you currently hiring?
Jared: We employ 12 undergraduate career specialists and 2 graduate assistants to help students explore majors and careers. We work with current students, prospective students, and even an occasional alum. We hire at the beginning of the spring semester, but are always accepting inquiries from students who are interested in helping professions!
Mindy: I’m sure parents and families will appreciate knowing there are opportunities for part-time employment here. What does a student need to do to become a career specialist?
Jared: Interested students should attend an information session in January to ensure the role is a good fit with their expectations and to receive an application for the role. Following the application deadline in mid-February, selected applicants will go through a 2 round interview process to determine final selection.
Mindy: Good to know! Tell us about your NEW location on campus!
Jared: Sure! We’re now located on the 2nd floor of the Berney Family Welcome Center, just across the street from the K-State Student Union and the parking garage. In moving to our new location this past May, we more than tripled the total space dedicated to major/career exploration. We’ve seen increased demand over the last several years and this amount of space more adequately meets the needs of students exploring their options. It also provides evidence of K-State’s commitment to putting students first when making decisions about resources and space.
Mindy: Triple the space?! I’m so pleased to learn that students have comfortable, state-of-the-art space to explore and research options. It’s easy for me to see that you enjoy working with college students. What do you enjoy most about working at the Career Center?
Jared: While we’re well known for helping students choose a major, we really look at the bigger picture of identifying career paths that are a fit. In most cases, there are many majors that can lead to a career path, whereas many students come to college with the thought that there’s only one major that can get them to the career their interested in. We try to help students understand that they have a variety of paths that can help them meet their career goals, rather than one specific path. I enjoy working with students to determine small and attainable next steps toward their career, which often includes trying out a course in a subject they’re interested in, job shadowing, or obtaining a closely related part-time job.
Mindy: That’s really helpful. I like that the emphasis is on careers, and that there can be more than one path to get there. Share a couple ways that the Explore Floor helps K-State students be successful.
Jared: Sure, there are a number of ways that we can assist a student on their way to earning a degree, but these are the two most common benefits.
- Academic and Career Decisions is our 1-credit hour career exploration class that is open to all students at K-State. The class helps students explore and discover majors and careers that align with their career goals through assessments, activities, and discussion. If students are interested in taking this class, they should inform their Academic Advisor and search for EDCEP 120 in the course catalog. We offer 6 sections of the class during the spring semester, so we can accommodate a wide variety of student schedules.
- Each fall, just before enrollment begins in October, we host the Majors, Minors and More Fair. (It was held on 10/14/16) This come-and-go event provides a way for students to learn about the 250+ majors, minors, and certificate programs that are available to them. Faculty, staff, and student reps share information about coursework, student organizations, and potential career paths if students choose to study in their programs.
Mindy: I wish that class existed when I was a student. I think I could have benefited! If a student has a question about career exploration, how can they contact your office?
Jared: We encourage students to stop by the 2nd floor of the Career Center any time, even for a quick question during our regular business hours (8-5, M-F). They’re also welcome to call (785) 532-7494 or email me directly (firstname.lastname@example.org) with questions.
Mindy: Ok, here’s my favorite question. What is the best kept secret about the Explore Floor?
Jared: Hopefully we don’t have too many secrets, but many students and parents don’t realize that we serve lots of upperclassmen in addition to first year students. Lots of students love what they’ve chosen to major in, but aren’t certain about what job or career path they want to pursue after graduation. Our resources can provide these students with information to solidify what next steps they hope to take after graduation, whether that’s a full-time, graduate/professional school, or something else.
Mindy: That’s really helpful insight about working with upperclassmen. With the cost of higher education these days, I’m glad students are researching all their employment options after graduation. Is there anything else you want to share with parents and families.
Jared: I changed majors 6 times during my time at K-State and wish that I would have been more intentional in my exploration of what to major in. Because of this, it’s exciting for me to be able to assist students in using the resources that I could have benefited from a great deal as a student. Reality is that college tuition is expensive. If students take time to explore their options intentionally, they may decrease the amount of time it takes them to earn their degree, and in turn, take out fewer loans or accrue less debt.
Mindy: Six times! And here you are as a successful professional. I’m sure that will be reassuring to many parents reading this. Jared, it’s obvious to me that you enjoy what you do. Thank you for sharing information with parents and families about resources available at the Career Center. I’m hopeful this sparks some good conversations between parents and students. Have a great week, and GO CATS!