The Robert G. Freeman Center for Career and Completion – The Year in Review: WBL Manager Jacqueline Javier

Pam Sornson, JD

The Robert G. Freeman Center for Career and Completion (RGFC) at Pasadena City College (PCC) is notching its first anniversary this month. Designed to provide comprehensive career guidance to every member of PCC’s student body, the Center helps its clients with everything ‘job’ and ‘career’ related, from self-discovery and career exploration to resume development and workplace readiness. Its first year was a whirlwind of activity, as it gathered and marshaled resources, reached out to community members, and developed partnerships across its campus and the Pasadena and regional business communities. By building a comprehensive library of available on-site and local resources, the Center can better assist its clients in making the connections they need to further their career aspirations.

Bridging Academia and Industry

Not the least significant of the work done by the Center’s inaugural staff was the outreach to faculty and staff by the school’s Manager of “Work-Based Learning” (WBL), Jacqueline Javier, who joined the Center in July 2019. Jacqueline brings to the Center her long experience with WBL initiatives and strategies, derived from both her personal education and professional career. WBL offers a myriad of benefits to every student by enabling them to apply classroom learning to the world of work, reinforcing their career choices, and enhancing their employability skills. Employers also gain from providing a WBL opportunity by accessing a strong talent pipeline of well-trained students who bring innovation and efficiency to the workplace.

Early on in her career, Jacqueline recognized that many students at the high school and postsecondary level lacked access to work-based learning experiences. In her then position, it was her job to create those opportunities, and when she did, she was rewarded by the students’ almost immediate sense of belonging and motivation. Jacqueline was perhaps most touched by young learners from special populations and those who were the ‘first generation’ in their family to even consider attending college. These insights strengthened her resolve to make WBL the focus of her career, and when the WBL Manager job came available at PCC, she jumped at the opportunity.


New Center; New Year; New Opportunities

It was fortunate for PCC that she did, as Jacqueline almost immediately began connecting some dots around campus. She was already impressed by PCC’s foresight to house its career services offices in the Economic and Workforce Development (EWD) department. This organizational structure provided a unique perspective on how PCC addressed the WBL opportunity, enabling the Freeman Center to be the single location where students, faculty, and employers can seek support.

Her first strategy through the 2019 Summer was to engage with the school’s Institutional Effectiveness Team, to glean insights from them and maximize the value of assets they had already developed. Then she embarked on a mission to inventory every element of WBL then existing at the school. While she found that many faculty members were already integrating some form of WBL in their classroom, many of them were not classifying those activities as WBL. This became an opportunity for her to raise awareness on WBL and its different components. Jacqueline collaborated with EWD leadership to establish a WBL definition for the college to ensure all WBL opportunities are captured and recorded as the assets that they are. Through strong collaboration with the Institutional Effectiveness Team, Instructional Deans, Faculty, and Program Coordinators at the college, Javier is centralizing WBL data and simultaneously providing a source of support for those coordinating WBL activities.

The metrics captured to date revealed that Pasadena City College was already doing a lot to support its student’s career plans, including incorporating into lesson planning the values received through internships, job shadowing, and mentoring opportunities.


Growing in Competence and Comprehension

Over the course of Year One, Jacqueline found herself acting as a liaison for a number of PCC stakeholders:

She collaborated with faculty members to find internship opportunities for their students, including helping to define the parameters of the role and the preferred business resources needed to achieve the education. Once established, the students can return to the work-based learning team at the RGFC to better understand how their internship experiences can translate to course credits.

She also collaborated with businesses to identify organizational needs, create new internship positions, and recruit students with the skill bases needed to fill their employment needs.

Along with her Career Services colleagues, she also liaises with other PCC resources to ensure they meet every student’s needs so that each person can continue their educational journey. Housing, transportation, and tutoring supports are addressed, along with academic and employment services. (Jacqueline notes, in particular, the generosity of the PCC Foundation, which has offered a variety of supports to PCC students in need.)

Jacqueline’s work across the campus and in the community enhances the values offered by the college’s six Career Communities. She works to develop unique internships that will meet the needs of students representing the different Career Communities while working with other individuals on-campus to ensure student barriers are removed. The effort results in a mosaic of resources – counseling, coursework, faculty and industry inputs and (most importantly) student skills – tailored to meet the needs of each individual learner.


Flush with Past Success

Looking back on her accomplishments, Jacqueline notes now that matching the student to the appropriate WBL opportunity is critical to their success. She and her team meet each student where they are on their life and educational paths, then help to guide them to the future of their choosing. The wrap-around career services provided by the Freeman Center help close an equity gap because every student qualifies for help regardless of their situation, and every student gains the resources they need to be successful.


And looking for Future Success

Looking forward, Jacqueline is using the COVID-19 situation to hone the technologies needed to facilitate and expand more virtual WBL options for students, faculty and employers. On-site internships are not available right now, nor are face-to-face counseling sessions or other person-to-person engagements. However, virtual meetings, interviews, and trainings are in the works as are experiential learning opportunities from far-away places. These options may not have been considered without the COVID interference with normal operating processes. Jacqueline sees her emerging digital foundation as an adjunct that supports and extends the Center’s physical plant, offering a broader base of resources to a more extensive and diverse student population.

And she is both learning herself and teaching others that developing an educated and well-skilled worker is both a skill and an art. Jacqueline Javier is thrilled that PCC and its Robert G. Freeman Center for Career and Completion gives her such a broad canvass through which to do that work.


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