Director of Parent & Family Relations Mindy Weixelman sat down with K-State Career Center Executive Director Dr. Kerri Keller in her office to learn the latest news about career development resources available to K-State students.
Mindy: Thank you so much for meeting with me, especially late on a beautiful Friday afternoon!
Kerri: The Career Center enjoys the partnership we have with parents, so I’m glad to visit with you. I think I have information that will benefit parents and families.
Mindy: Yes, you do! Let’s jump right in.
We know that most parents send their student to college because they want their student to get a JOB. Tell parents and families about the K-State Career Center and your team of staff.
Kerri: The Career Center facilitates the career readiness of all students throughout the K-State community. We help students explore majors and careers, develop their potential through internships and career-related experiences, tell their stories through their resumes and interviewing, and connect with employers and other opportunities. Each student has a friendly and knowledgeable Career Center advisor who works with their college and is available for in-person appointments, classroom presentations, email consultations and more to help your student.
Mindy: You have such a talented staff. I completely agree that they are friendly and knowledgeable. I would also share that they have a reputation for being very effective with employers and students.
I think it’s important for parents and families to understand your role at the Career Center. Give us a feel for what your role includes.
Kerri: As director of the Career Center, I provide leadership and overall management of our department. I am fortunate to work with a committed, hard-working and enthusiastic team of nearly 50 full-time and student employees. I see my job as being similar to an orchestra conductor – I’ve played several of the instruments among our group but my goal now is to help everyone else be the best at their part so that we can create a powerful career services harmony – one that is music to the ears of our students, families, employers and others within the K-State community.
Mindy: I love that answer! I think a lot of people can relate to your analogy of an orchestra conductor.
Do you hire student employees at the Career Center? If so, can you provide some examples of how student employees advance the work of the department?
Kerri: Yes, student employees are vital members of the Career Center team. Our student staff welcome current and prospective students to our facility, greet employers and other campus visitors, and answer questions about utilizing our services. Our career specialists assist their peers with major/career exploration through individual assistance and our 1-credit hour career class. Other student employees throughout our center assist with planning events, entering jobs, marketing our services and managing our Career Closet. Our graduate assistant staff provide career advising to students, provide outreach to student groups and manage a variety of other projects and programs.
Mindy: These sound like fun and unique student employment opportunities that students could really benefit from personally and professionally.
Your team of professional and student staff serve students in a lot of different ways. How many students use the Career Center throughout the year?
Kerri: We certainly wear a lot of different hats. When we combine student appointments, drop-ins, workshops and presentations, we were able to document 22,937 student client interactions during 2015-16. Annually, we also have more than 10,000 students making use of our online job listing system.
Mindy: That’s a remarkable number of students.
When is the best time for a student to connect with staff at the Career Center?
Kerri: Early and often! We really do want to meet with students early in their college career. As a new freshman, we can help an undecided student explore career options, help a decided student find a relevant part-time job and help a deciding student get involved on campus to begin developing experience. Regardless, we are available for students whenever they want to connect with us. We assist recent graduates up to a year out of their graduation. Beyond that we have a partnership with the K-State Alumni Association to offer alumni career services for a lifetime of career choices.
Mindy: Share two ways that the Career Center helps K-State students be successful.
Kerri: There are two critical ways that I feel we make a significant impact -helping students explore majors/careers and connecting them with employers through career fairs.
Parents and families can learn more by visiting the student section of our website.
Mindy: Excellent! Thank you for sharing that.
Kerri, you are a leader in your field. How have you seen the career development process change or even stay the same over the last decade?
Kerri: One important shift in the last decade has been the increasing reliance of employers on internships as a recruitment strategies for full-time hiring. We’ve seen employers making earlier and earlier job offers as they convert proven student interns to full-time employees. That means that students need to be prepared at a much earlier point during college for important career decision-making and salary negotiation.
Mindy: That’s helpful insight, and certainly makes a lot of sense.
You’ve shared some really interesting information with me today. What do you feel is the best kept secret about the Career Center?
Kerri: It’s not so much of a secret any more but our Career Closet is one of the most rewarding services we offer students. Students are so very appreciative of the free clothing items and advice that are available when they visit the Career Closet. We are constantly amazed at the generosity of K-State alumni and others who donate to the closet. We welcome donations from parents and families too!
To learn more, visit the Career Closet.
Mindy: The Career Closet is truly remarkable. I walked by there on my way to your office, and saw a student in there organizing the clothes and putting together clothing combinations for students to check out.
Our time today is quickly coming to an end. Is there anything else you want to share with parents and families?
Kerri: We have a section of the Career Center website dedicated to parents and families. Parents are among our most important champions for promoting the Career Center among K-State students!
To learn more, visit K-State Fairs.
Mindy: Thank you for ending our conversation with the perfect resource for parents and families. Many thanks for all you do to help students secure part-time jobs, internships and that first job after graduation! Have a great day, and GO CATS!