January 08, 2009

Career Services is helping students prepare for future

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A significant number of UAB students are use Career Services to prepare for life after college.

It seemed like a simple suggestion from a marketing professor to a college student at the time. But when Suzanne Scott-Trammell was encouraged by her faculty advisor to visit Career Services, it became one of the best things that ever happened to her. She learned how to market herself, how to create a strong resume and how to interview. She had multiple opportunities to interview with corporations and was hired after graduation by cereal maker Kellogg’s, for which she spent 13 years in sales and marketing.

Suzanne Scott-Trammell and the staff of Career Services have seen an increasing number of students visiting their offices to learn to evaluate their career options responsibly.

Scott-Trammell talks more about the importance of UAB Career Services.


“If I had realized the depth of assistance available from the career office, my job search would have been quicker with much less stress involved,” says Scott-Trammell, now the executive director of Career Services at UAB. “And that’s what we’re here to do — help students prepare for a lifelong-learning process, leading to continued career growth and success.

 

“What we really try to do is help students understand the steps involved with job search so it’s not overwhelming – and so that it leads to more than just a job when they graduate,” she explains.

“Job search does not have to be daunting, but it does involve work for students to prepare and manage their own job-search campaigns.” A significant number of UAB students are use Career Services to prepare for life after college. The department has made a significant push to get in front of more students and showcase the benefits they can provide.

Students have the freedom to choose the major they desire and pursue whatever job they want, but they’ve got to evaluate their options wisely and responsibly, says Scott-Trammell. Career Services is a valuable resource as it can help students research the realities and requirements of careers, then compare those to their skills, interests and values and arrive at a well-informed and responsible decision.

“We’re trying to empower the students to make good decisions, realizing that all along the way new opportunities are going to pop up,” Scott-Trammell says. “Students don’t have to have their lives all mapped out, few of us ever do, but we do want them to know what their next step is going to be and where that’s going to lead them.”

Increase in participation
Scott-Trammell and her staff have been engaging faculty and student advisors on campus since she came to UAB in July 2007 to show the value Career Services can add to a student’s educational and professional career.

Career Services conducted more than 150 presentations and seminars this past fall and reached more than 9,000 students — an increase of 175 percent compared with the prior year. The office also launched a new job-search and career-management system, which has more than 4,000 students registered — an increase of 230 percent.

Students and faculty learned the importance of exploring, experiencing, preparing and succeeding — the four-phase mission of Career Services, which also supports UAB’s mission. A Career Action Plan is available to help students navigate through the steps all throughout their collegiate careers.

“If they prepare all along they’re much more marketable long-term,” Scott-Trammell says. “We want to work with them the whole time they’re here at UAB. We can help them explore options, gain experience, set goals and prepare for short- and long-term career success.”

Scott-Trammell says a big reason Career Services has seen an influx of students is due to faculty partnerships; faculty are inviting the group’s staff into their classrooms and encouraging students to visit offices in the Hill University Center and the satellite offices in the schools of Business and Engineering. Faculty have done this in a variety of ways, including offering extra credit assignments for attending career fairs, making appointments or participating in workshops and events.

“Faculty and staff have emphasized the need for this kind of information during the students’ educational experience, and that’s great because it links us all together,” Scott-Trammell says. “When faculty and advisors encourage students to make an appointment with us, it helps students understand that what Career Services is offering is really important.”

The response from faculty, advisors, and student organizations has been overwhelming; Career Services recently put a Request for Presentation form online at https://sa.uab.edu/careerservices/presentationrequest/.  “We also can customize presentations,” Scott-Trammell says. 

Career counseling
Recent research shows that today’s student is going to change careers nine times by age 35. Scott-Trammell has been more fortunate. Whether selling a product like cereal or teaching students to sell themselves and their own ideas, she has remained in the people business. In fact, she left Kellogg’s simply because she stopped loving her job. Sitting behind a computer, managing a budget and analyzing promotional spends didn’t make her happy. So she went back to school, earning her master’s in education from Montevallo in 1999 to go along with her 1984 undergraduate business administration degree from Auburn University at Montgomery. She went on to work with students at the University of Florida and at Vanderbilt in their career centers, giving her a chance to do again what she values most.

“I wasn’t interacting with people face to face, and I didn’t feel like I was making much of a difference or helping people. Those are some of my core values,” she says. So she went to graduate school and pursued counseling. She notes that sales and marketing and career counseling use very similar skills.

“The skills are very transferable; career counseling involves teaching people how to evaluate their talents and interests to determine what they want to do,” she says. “It’s helping them identify what they’re passionate about and what they love doing. Getting a job is not a sell-out. It should be integrated into who you are because if you love what you do, you’re going to be more fulfilled and more successful.”

Faculty, staff and students can learn more about Career Services at www.careerservices.uab.edu.

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