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PROFILE: Even in tough times, the SFCC Career Center continues its mission

Submitted by on October 30, 2009 – 3:26 pmNo Comment

SFCC student Brearnna Tate shows Paul Fox what she has learned in her physical therapy co-operative education program.

Whether it’s creating a resume, applying for a job, participating in co-operative learning, or discovering their career goals, the first stop for SFCC students and the public is often the SFCC Career Placement, Job Placement, and Co-op Education Center. Using a variety of methods, the Career Center staff helps people who come into the center determine which programs, jobs, and careers they may be best suited for. “Every person who comes in is an individual,” said Paul Fox, director, Career Center. “We work one-on-one with them to find the plan that will work best for them.”

Nancy Currie helps a student fill out an online job application.

Nancy Currie helps a student fill out an online job application.

Nancy Currie, career center specialist, is the first face people see when they venture into the career center. She sees people of all kinds come through the career center. “A mother and daughter just recently came in together to career search.” Currie said. She often sees younger students who come in with their parents. “Parents bring their kids in to open up their minds about what kind of careers are out there and what the requirements are for the jobs they are interested in. Many high school students know what type of career they want, but have no idea what is required for them to get jobs in those career fields.”

Because of the current economy, Currie has also seen new types of people come in to the Career Center. “We’re now getting more people in their 30s and 40s who have lost their jobs. Many of them don’t realize they can use the skills they already have in different types of occupations. We help them recognize those jobs.”

Ricardo Pantoja meets with associates from Marshalls at the SFCC Career Center.

Ricardo Pantoja meets with associates from Marshalls at the SFCC Career Center.

Ricardo Pantoja, student services advisor, Career Center, keeps track of job opportunities in the tri-county area. Pantoja learns about job openings by keeping in daily contact with prospective employers. He researches companies on the internet, searches the newspaper employment ads, and goes door-to-door to local businesses. “It’s a never-ending job,” Pantoja said. “When I am out at the other campuses, I stop by local businesses to see if they have any job opportunities available that I can bring back with me. I’m always searching.”

Fox helps SFCC students find Co-Operative Education (co-op) opportunities to supplement their classroom experiences. “Learning is equally dependent upon practical experience as it is academic achievement,” Fox said. “The co-op program gives students hands-on experience that provides reality to learning.”

Fox has seen many co-op students come into his office undecided about a career choice and then graduate with a clear understanding of who they were and what they wanted to do with their lives. A recent graduate and co-op student Fox recalls as having been transformed through the co-op program is former SFCC art student Max Gooding. “When Max came in to see me, he was quite undecided about whether he should go into landscape design, architecture, or engineering,” Fox said. “He did two co-ops in the SFCC Fine Arts Department and really took off in the fine arts. He also served on the SGA e-Board, was the president of the SFCC Art Club, became a spokesperson for many of the different student programs, and really just became a true leader for the students. He graduated with a maturity beyond his years and self-confidence about himself and his career in the arts. He is now a student at University of Florida and a very accomplished artist. His success really shows what the co-op program is all about.”

The majority of the time, Fox contacts businesses about creating a co-op position for a student. However this term, Fox was contacted by Seminole Electric. “They wanted to give a full-time co-op opportunity to a general engineering student at their Hardee County substation. Erik Christensen and I worked together, and we were able to find two students to share the full-time position. Not only was this beneficial to these two students, it was also beneficial to the co-op program because it allowed us to spread our parameters into Hardee County.”

But even in times when the economy is not at its best and job and co-operative education opportunities are scarce, the Career Center staff continues its work. “The economy has lessened the opportunities for jobs, but we don’t stop our processes,” Fox said. “We are seeing more people in here than ever before, and there is a hidden job market out there; people

just have to get out there and find it.”

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