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College merges career services department

Beginning at the end of September, the Career Services department will merge with Human Resources.  The new department will collaborate closely with Alumnae Relations to create a more varied and tailored service  for students. Career Services and Human Resources will also introduce new hires starting this year.

Many changes have  occurred within the Division of Student Life in the past year. Three employees were laid off, including the Director of Career Services, Kate Dey.

The Career Services department considered reorganizing the department, though it would still be in  complicance with the regulatory requirements  to help students get jobs after they graduate.  Now, however, it would consist of a different structure.

Currently, there are two Career Development Advisors, Felby Chen and Christina Hernandez. According to Lesa Hammond, interim Vice President of Human Resources and Administration, Career Services is operating smoothly despite the lack of an official department head.  Hammond is hoping that the merge will give students and alumnae the best of both worlds, with student services  assisting students with career development , and Human Resources  teaching students the logistics of getting a job.

On September 30th, Lesa Hammond will accept the positions of Assistant Vice President of Human Resources and Director of Career Services. Regardless of the large number of changes Hammond is optimistic about what the
future holds.

“For the short term, I can see us having a commitment to do everything we can to engage every first-year student with Career Services, so that it isn’t a mysterious department until their fourth year,” said Hammond. “I hope that four years from now, every student in Mills will have a connection with Career Services and have it as resource for them to tap into to lead them into a career path.”

Along with the departmental merging, there will be many new events geared toward helping students and alumnae both explore and find jobs.

Beginning in October, monthly networking events will be held  for Mills students to socialize with those who have already entered the working world, including Mills alumnae. The same month, Alumnae Relations will begin its monthly “Movie Night.”

There will also be an on-campus graduate school fair to publicize the Mills graduate programs, as well as transportation to graduate fairs for other programs held off campus. There will also be a strong emphasis on all students to get an internship before they graduate, which will help them understand a career and test it out to see their compatibility with it.  For fourth year undergraduates, there will be on-campus recruiting periodically starting this year, where the Career Services and Human Resources department will assist students in signing up for interviews and then helping them prepare to put their best foot forward.

Other proposed changes include collaboration between Alumni Relations and Career Services, says Elizabeth Coyle, Associate Director of Alumnae Outreach and designated liasion between the departments. Monthly “Career Conversations” will begin in October, an opportunity for students and alumnae to network and discuss their career paths.

“Our goals [for this collaboration] is to bring students and alumni together to make these connections, build relationships, and to receive guidance and advice..” says Coyle. “We want to create opportunities for alumnae to share their career expertise
with students”.

Christina Hernandez, one of the two Career Development Advisors currently working with Coyle on the “Career Conversations” events. Hernandez hopes that this will be a solid platform for students to explore what careers they may potentially be
interested in.

Hernandez shares Hammond’s desire to work with all students. “It’s a myth that we’re just targeting the alumnae and upperclasswomen. We’re emphasizing the importance of starting students’ career paths from the very beginning.” said Hernandez

When asked about Hammond’s feelings about this shift, she responded with caution. “Change is always difficult, and it takes some trust on the part of students to accept it, [but] I’m excited for the merging because it creates a model where students can be prepared for jobs helping students figure out their careers and get them over
that threshold.”

Recent graduate Esther Honig encourages students to allay their fears that changes to the departments might negatively effect its usefulness. She currently works as a Public Relations Intern at Kiva, and she vehemently believes that she couldn’t have done it without the Career Services department at Mills. She is continuing to look for jobs, and works with the department to develop her profile. “Hernandez’s guidance is helping me build my resume.” Honig’s faith in Career Services is an indication of a bright future for the department. Says Honig, “I think it’s definitely going in the right direction.”