Communication sciences major Philip Guay ’14 (CLAS) sat in an interview with media relations professionals at LifeCare Inc., an employee benefits company in Shelton, Conn. His background and coursework in communication sciences at UConn had impressed them.
But what piqued the interviewers’ interest, says Guay, was the UConn Certificate of Professional Development listed on his resume.
The interviewers asked him about it, and he explained: The certificate recognizes attendance at four or more UConn career development events during an academic year.
“I think what it conveyed is that I was an individual who was actively seeking out ways to become prepared for the career world,” he said. “It made me look like I was serious … and a little more employable.”
Employable, definitely: Guay landed an internship with LifeCare in interactive media relations.
On Thursday, Guay was one of more than 130 students in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and other UConn schools who received the University’s first Certificate of Professional Development, given by the Department of Career Services at an awards ceremony. The certificate is the first of its kind given university-wide at UConn.
“Engaging in this program is a choice, not a requirement,” associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Davita Glasberg told the awardees at the Alumni Center.
“By attending these panels, workshops, career fairs, and networking nights, you made an intentional decision to invest in your career development,” Glasberg said. “You are leaders in the College and the University.”
The UConn Department of Career Services held more than 50 programs this year in its inaugural Certificate of Professional Development Program, said Neal Robinson, director for the program and a career consultant in Career Services.
The program, which is open to students in any of the University’s schools or colleges, included talks and networking events with UConn alumni at high-profile companies like Google and ESPN and non-profit businesses like those at the Careers for the Common Good Fair. Students traveled off-campus to visit businesses and learn about internships.
Panel discussions with alumni in particular career fields – including science, government, business, communications, education, and public service – also gave students ideas and tips about what skills are needed for entry-level jobs and internships in those fields.
Macy Engengro ’15 (CLAS), a communication sciences major, said the networking sessions were among the most helpful for her.
“I hadn’t realized that networking was so important,” she said. “There’s a whole network of UConn alumni who you can talk to.”
Interactive workshops and “boot camps” also helped students hone their resumes, learn to network, find relevant internships, ace an interview, and improve their professional writing.
Jim Lowe, assistant vice provost and executive director of career services, said that when he talks to employers – such as a recent meeting with executives at the Hartford-based Travelers insurance company – they tell him they know that students are prepared and job-ready from a technical standpoint, but that they’re looking for more.
“They say, ‘What we’re looking for is students who can marry that with an understanding of the marketplace,’” Lowe said. “In other words, the stuff that’s outside of the classroom.”
To learn more about the Career Services Certificate of Professional Development, go to http://www.career.uconn.edu/clas_cert_prodev.html.