Career Success Center Moves Online To Support CCSU Students

Samantha Bender, News Editor

Though the semester looks a bit different for students at Central Connecticut, the Career Success Center is not letting the pandemic deter them from supporting both current and past CCSU students.

Jessica Pierzchalski, a junior office assistant for the Career Success Center, admits she was nervous about how the office would handle assisting students through the pandemic due to the uncertainty surrounding it.

“I was pleasantly surprised by how well the office transitioned into the online forum,” Pierzchalski said. “I still feel like students are getting the help they need and still getting to use and benefit from the services we provide.”

On July 1 of this year, the Career Success Center launched a new platform called “Handshake,” in which students can create a profile for themselves to explore career options, find jobs and internships and connect with employers.

Previously, the Career Success Center used a network known as “College Central Network,” but after intensive research to find the most beneficial platform for students, they are no longer with them. The search for a new network especially intensified amidst the pandemic, as the Career Success Center sought to find a virtual platform that students would be able to access.

Montez Johnson, the associate director of the Career Success Center, stated that since they’ve launched the platform, the center has been able to go entirely virtual.

“We feel like our numbers actually went up because of the virtual preparation we put in,” Montez said. “From the day that we were sent home, we started having meetings every day virtually to get used to the platforms, from [Microsoft] Teams to WebEx, to Zoom. We were coming up with ways to give resources to our students virtually and give them the same impact.”

The Career Success Center chose to switch to Handshake as it has proven to help with employment and student development. While operating under different circumstances, the center continues to provide students with the resources they need to succeed beyond college.

Students who have activated their Handshake accounts will receive email blasts automatically, notifying them of upcoming events and jobs. The Career Success Center remains open and accessible to students. Students can book appointments through their website and through Handshake.

“We still have all the same resources. Everything from resume review, to cover letter critique, to dressing for success, to our mock interviews,” Montez said. “We can do all of that virtually.”

With students being virtual, they also have more opportunities available to them as many companies have remote positions available. Where a student might not have applied to a job across the country in the past, they now have the ability to through Handshake, without having to pack up and make the official move.

“I have students who are working in Arizona but they’re actually right here in their own rooms,” Montez said.

Montez says it’s important that students utilize their Central emails and activate their files on Handshake, as some companies are looking specifically for Central students.

“[Companies] may want to choose us over another college because they know you guys are hardworking, middle-class students who are very prepared with transferable skills,” Montez said. “They talk to us about that all the time.”

Through Handshake, students also have the opportunity to attend virtual information sessions for specific companies as well as Central’s virtual career fairs.

Central’s Fall 2020 Career and Internship Fair will be held virtually on Oct. 13 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. In order to attend, students can make an account on Handshake and register for the event.

Other upcoming fairs include the CCSU Computing and Digital Technology Fair on Oct. 15 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. and the Engineering, Manufacturing, and Construction Management Fair on Oct. 29 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

“I think the services they provide are so useful and beneficial in starting your life in the professional world,” Pierzchalski said. “The main reason people go to college is to discover their strengths and weaknesses and find a career that they love based on that. There’s no better place to go to put your degree and new skills to use than the Career Success Center.”