SFCC Career Development Center Helps Clients Explore New Careers
Visitors to the South Florida Community College Career Development Center may have noticed the center recently relocated and gained a new staff. The SFCC Career Development Center, now located on the first floor, Building B, Room 111, at the SFCC Highlands Campus, is open to students as well as the public, and all of its services are free of charge. In an effort to explore what the new Career Center has to offer, I made an appointment to visit the center and participated in its career exploration and job search process.
When I first arrived at the Career Development Center, I was greeted by Pamela Jessiman, career center specialist, who had me sign in using a program called Accutrac. The program provides a monthly report on traffic flow and the services that are being used. “Previously, clients would sign in on a sheet of paper, and check off the services they were using,” Jessiman said. “Now we can use this program to keep an updated and organized record of our clients. Phone calls and e-mails, which are often overlooked, can also be input into the program.”
After I completed the sign-in process, I met with Colleen Rafatti, director, Career Development Center. She began our appointment by asking me a series of questions about my educational background, interests, and likes and dislikes about my current job. Finally, she asked me what career field I was interested in. Posing as a client, I said I was unsure about a specific career field. “Many people who come to us don’t have any idea what they want to do,” Rafatti said. “Many times, we get students who are undecided and members of the public who have been laid off or are career changers. They don’t know what they want to do or sometimes even what skills they have for jobs they can do.”
In these instances, Rafatti has clients complete career interest, skills, and work values surveys on career exploration websites Kuder Journey and Facts.org. These programs pinpoint which types of jobs and careers might fit well with the person.
Each program provides the same information but works a bit differently. While each program asks the user a series of questions, the questions in Kuder Journey offers the user a variety of different activities and asks them to rate which choice they would rather do the most, next most, and least. Facts.org offers the user two options and asks the user to pick which one they would prefer. Kuder Journey also offers a skills assessment survey in a similar format that measures which job skills the user currently has.
The programs also offer work values surveys. These surveys give the user insight on what is important to them in a job. Personal preferences about work values like support, supervision, independence, and workplace environment can play a major role in determining what types of jobs are best suited for an individual. Both programs then offer a list of occupations that fit an individual’s responses.
After completing the career interest and skills surveys, I learned that my interests rated highest in education and training while my skills ranged highest in marketing and arts, audio-video technology, and communications. My skills in education and training ranked the fourth lowest, so if I decided to enter the education and training industry, I would need to find a training program. When this happens, Rafatti helps the client find training at SFCC or other colleges, if it is not available locally.
“Many of our clients still have to work to support their families during their career training, so some will pick a career that allows them to remain local and work their way up through their training over time,” Rafatti said. “They will start out working on an associate’s degree or technical certificate and will continue at a pace that is best for them. Sometimes, we can also help them find a job that is similar to what they want to do, so they can get that hands-on training as well.”
When clients come into the Career Development Center and already have a specific career in mind, Rafatti will talk to them about how they made the decision and make sure they have a clear understanding of what the career is about. She also refers them to the Virtual Career Library, a free program available on the Career Development Center web page. The program offers in-depth information and advice about a wide range of careers through video profiles, news reports, job data cards, industry and career guides, and career planning resources. After navigating through the Virtual Career Library, I learned that jobs in the Education and Training sector included not only school teachers but also archivists, coaches, curators, librarians, and dieticians and nutritionists. I was also able to read descriptions and watch video overviews of these jobs to gain a better understanding of what they entail to help myself in making the best decision about choosing a career.
Another service the Career Development Center provides is helping its clients search for jobs. For this, I visited Loretta Jackson, student services advisor. First, she directed me to the job board which included listings for local and non-local job openings. Once I’d found a job I was interested in, we discussed a resume.
The Career Development Center requires its clients bring a resume with them when they use the job services. If the client does not have a resume, Jackson helps them create a resume using a computer program called WinWay. First, the client fills out a form that asks a series of questions regarding their contact information, career objectives, and education and employment background. After typing the same information into the program, the program then sets it up into a resume format which can then be converted into a Word document and printed or e-mailed. “Anybody can use this program,” said Jackson. “It’s not only for those who do not have a resume, but can also be used by those want to update their resume as well.” The program has templates for writing cover and thank you letters and video information on job interviews. After reviewing the resume, Jackson then pulls up the job description to determine if the client fits the position and makes a referral with the employer. Along with applying for jobs and creating resumes and cover letters, Jackson also helps job seekers practice their interview skills by conducting mock interviews. The interviews can be videotaped, so she and the client can critique it.
Often, Jackson has clients who have skills and training for a specific job, but there are no job openings in that field. She then takes them to mySkills myFuture.org. After entering their occupation, the website will find similar occupations to offer the client an alternative. “Many times people think they are limited to that one career,” she said. “The website helps them see there are other jobs out there they can perform with the skills they have.” After entering in my current job title, I found jobs that required similar skills such as copy writers, radio/TV/ movie producers, recruiters, and athlete/performer agents.
While my career exploration and job search process took about four hours, I was able to spread it out over three days. The center is open Monday-Thursday, 8 a.m.-7 p.m., and Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. These convenient hours allow flexibility for clients to use its services after regular business hours. After completing the process, I left the SFCC Career Development Center with a better understanding of the wide range of careers available, as well as personal insight into my own interests and skills.
For more information or to make an appointment at the SFCC Career Development Center, call 863-784-7410 or visit http://www.southflorida.edu/student/resources/career/.