Paris Robinson has taken full advantage of the Office of Career Services offerings at the University of Central Arkansas.
From utilizing mock interviews and resume writing assistance to job search databases and career fairs, Robinson attributes the office with helping her earn an internship with Cintas that has resulted in a full-time job offer.
“I did my first interview here, and I did three more at the location,” she said. “It was a four-interview process, and after that they told me I got the internship.
“With that internship, they’ve offered me a full-time job after I graduate.”
Robinson expects to enter a management trainee program with the company and work at the Maumelle location after she graduates in May.
This kind of story is familiar in the Office of Career Services, said Kathy Clayborn, interim director of Nontraditional Student Services and executive director of Career Services.
“Our mission is to assist students with their educational experience by providing career planning programs, presentations and employment opportunities,” Clayborn said.
Career Services hosts campus interviews periodically from September to April each year. Companies and small businesses come to campus to conduct interviews with selected students for full- and part-time work or internships. In the 2018-19 academic year, the office reported hosting nearly 700 campus interviews.
Additionally, more than 6,200 students sought career opportunities through coaching sessions, career fairs, mock interviews, resume reviews or other services in the same year.
The office hosts dozens of programs, initiatives and events each semester including the World of Work Career Closet, or WOW Closet.
The WOW Closet started approximately 10 years ago when Clayborn received a call from a woman who was entering retirement and asked whether she could donate her wardrobe to UCA for student usage. Clayborn accepted.
The WOW Closet has grown from clothing being stored in an employee’s office to a space on the third floor of Bernard Hall, with a dressing room, daily hours and a part-time employee to manage the distribution process. The closet houses clothing, shoes and accessories for male and female students, who are allowed one complete outfit per year.
The Student Government Association supports the initiative by paying for clothes to be cleaned before being given to students. Sororities, fraternities, faculty, staff and several churches support the WOW Closet with donations, Clayborn said.
Other initiatives and programs hosted by Career Services are Step Ahead, Service by the Slice and Countdown to Graduation.
The office recently adopted a platform called Handshake that allows students to register for events, complete online career assessments and resume reviews, and search for employment.
“It’s really like a virtual career center, almost to the point where students can look at positions that we post. And then they can look at events that we have going on, and then they can also go on there and make appointments with us,” said Robyn Williams ’15, ’17, associate director of Career Services. “They are able to look on the dashboard and say, ‘OK, Career Services has Dress for Success coming up next week,’ and then they can register for that.”
Students may also apply for jobs while using Handshake, Williams said.
The largest events, and perhaps the most popular, hosted by Career Services are the Fall Career Fair and Spring Job Fair for all academic majors. Smaller fairs — such as the STEM Career Fair, Health Career Fair and Teachers’ Fair — provide an opportunity for students to be more targeted in their career planning. Hosting smaller fairs has also allowed room for growth.
Clayborn said the space used for the career fairs accommodates about 82 vendors. The fall and spring fairs were often filled to capacity with a waiting list. The three additional fairs allowed some employers and graduate and professional schools to visit campus at a different time. That has worked for several years, but all the fairs have begun to reach capacity or have a waiting list.
“If I consistently have about 10 to 15 people on the waiting list, I’m going to break [the fall and spring fairs] out to two consecutive days,” Clayborn said.
She also hopes to better serve UCA’s online students.
“I can see just as many students using the Career Services online as in-house,” Clayborn said.