Creating Success Stories One Student at a Time

Pam Sornson, JD

Located on the main campus just west of the quad, the Robert G. Freeman Center for Career and Completion offers a variety of workforce services, all conveniently housed under one roof. Established through a generous donation from philanthropists Molly Munger and Steve English, the newly renovated and expanded venue is organized around an open, welcoming community space set-up to facilitate interaction between students and staff.

 

Open to All

As Sharis Davoodi, Interim Director, noted, “The Freeman Center project provides a friendly, user-focused destination for career guidance while playing a pivotal role in promoting a more connected campus community.”
Bathed in natural light from multiple, north-facing windows, the facility offers an inviting, one-stop-shop for workforce exploration and preparation. With its 15 permanent, temporary, and rotating team members, the Center boasts a dedicated staff of counselors, advisors, and interns, all ready to assist students as they build a solid foundation for their futures. “Our job is to help students find their focus and become workforce-ready,” Davoodi says, “that’s why we offer so many different services.”

 

Resources for Students

And students certainly have options. They can schedule in-person meetings with counselors, access the online job board, which lists open internships and employment opportunities, or they can simply sign-up for a workshop.
“In just our first six months of operation, we’ve held over 95 workshops,” confirms Davoodi, enumerating recent offerings like Career Development, Networking, Interviewing and Resume Building.

“There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’,” she insists, “because every student who walks in here has unique needs that we want to address. Some are looking to choose a major, others a career, and still others want an internship or a seasonal job. Most are also here to learn how to write a resume or prepare for an interview.”

Just as there is no typical student need, there is no typical student persona either. As Davoodi points out: “we help students from all walks of life, everyone from veterans to the disabled, or those looking to re-enter the workforce after an extended absence, like single moms or the formerly incarcerated.”

Recalling one recent success story, Davoodi detailed the dilemma facing a stay-at-home mom who was ready to go back to work but was worried about the employment gap on her resume. “We helped her fill it in with all the volunteer work she had done plus other activities relevant to her career track.” With a newly revised and revamped resume in hand, it wasn’t long after that that the single-mom landed her first real job offer in more than a decade.

 

Every Student is Unique

Since every case is unique, center staffers make a point of first conducting a comprehensive online assessment to identify student likes and dislikes, interests, and personality traits. With that information, they can better steer students in the right direction, match them to the right career path, and quickly make course corrections, if need be. “We’re here to give students a different perspective on things,” says Davoodi. “We help them build confidence by teaching them how to ask the right questions, so it’s imperative that we get to know who they are from the get-go.”

On top of everything else they do, the staff at the Freeman Center also hosts job fairs where employers can offer real opportunities in real-time, helping hundreds of students find employment within a matter of hours. “Job fairs help students weed out what they don’t want and learn how to zero in on what they’re truly passionate about,” says Davoodi. “Once they find that focus, that excitement, that sparkle in their eye… well, we thrive off of that ‘aha’ moment. That’s what we live for.”

 

Connecting Workers to Jobs

Pairing talented students with potential employers is, at its core, what the Robert G. Freeman Center is all about: building bridges between the classroom and the local business community. “A 30-minute appointment is all it takes,” Davoodi states proudly. “Give us 30-minutes, and we can help start you on a path into the professional world. That’s our challenge, our mission, and our joy.”

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