Department of Smart Choices

May 4, 2010

Many BMCC students have already experienced “the working world.” However, there’s a first time for everything, and in contrast, other students don’t have much career experience, or even a professional resume.

That’s where the Center for Career Development can help.

 “Preparing for a successful career is a process that can’t be rushed,” says Melba Olmeda, director of BMCC’s Center for Career Development. “That’s why we encourage students to begin working with us early in their freshman year.”

The Center offers three main sets of services—Career Exploration, Career Counseling and Job Search Assistance.

“Career Exploration is designed to help students research and evaluate their career options given their skills and interests,” says Olmeda. “It enables them to make informed decisions about what they’ll be doing after graduation, whether they go on to a four-year college or begin working.”

The Career Counseling service offers workshops and one-on-one guidance on building the skills needed to succeed in the workplace. Much of the emphasis is on communication and writing, particularly as it applies to interview skills, resumes, cover letters, and application essays for jobs and internships.

BMCC’s annual Career Fair

Every spring, the Center for Career Development invites local companies to set up recruitment booths at Richard Harris Terrace. These companies are looking to hire new employees for part-time jobs, full-time jobs and internships.

This semester, approximately 15 companies, including Big Brothers Big Sisters of New York City and New York Life Insurance Company, attended the Career Fair.

BMCC students who attended this semester’s Career Fair had to register in advance at the Center for Career Development, where they had their resume reviewed by staffers.

Career Fairs at BMCC are usually a win-win situation for both employee and employer—the employee/student gets a chance to make a good impression on an employer looking to hire. And, conversely, the employer has the opportunity to meet friendly, career-oriented BMCC students seeking employment.

“Companies invited to this semester’s fair have never been here before—and they’re definitely hiring,” said Olmeda at the event. “Having a smaller group of employers makes the meet-and-greet process more intimate.”

The Career Fair ran until 6 p.m.—a little later than in the past—so evening students could also stop by.

Making the job search easier

The Center for Career Development has been implementing important changes in the way they help students obtain jobs. “We’re doing a lot of stuff online,” says Olmeda.

For example, the Job Search Assistance component provides a wide array of networking and job search services. Among them are a year-round campus recruitment program, and a new Career Management System where employers post job openings, and students can upload their resumes.

Other programs include Career Zone, a self-assessment tool; Career Express, a career track research tool; and Career Vault, which lets students research careers and find out the degrees and credentials required.

“I can’t over-emphasize how important it is for students to begin working with us early on,” says Olmeda. “But at the same time, it’s never too late. “Even if a student comes to us with 30 credits under their belt, we can get them caught up and on track.”

Internships are also an option

When a student first contacts the Center, “we’ll generally begin with some simple interactive assessments,” says Olmeda. “Then, as they move through the curriculum, we’ll provide more intensive assessments aimed at helping them decide where they fit in the world of work.”

The Center can also provide students with information on internships and scholarships available from companies and nonprofit organizations.

“We often encourage students to consider internships—even if they’re unpaid and not required by their academic program,” says Olmeda. “An internship can help a student develop important transitional skills that they’ll need when they begin their career. And it can open an important dialogue with potential employers.”

Business Administration major Dmitry Mokshin used Career Express to find an internship with Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s office. He attended this semester’s Career Fair; a stack of resumes in hand.

Mokshin speaks fluent Russian, French and some Spanish, which looks impressive to employers. “Speaking more than one language, especially in New York City, helps you stand out from other candidates,” he says.

A “Big Smile” goes a long way

One of the companies who set up a booth at the Career Fair was NY Skyride; a sightseeing tour that operates the simulation ride inside the Empire State Building.
Lana M. Nitti, NY Skyride’s Human Resources Coordinator, greeted and spoke with students at the Career Fair.

She accepted their resumes and informed them that NY Skyride was currently hiring for one full-time and a few part-time, customer service based positions.

Nitti advised students to supply potential employers with a list of professional references. “The standard is to furnish a resume with, ‘references upon request,’ but I think it sets you apart if you provide references with your resume,” she says.

After meeting with more than 50 students in just a few hours at the Career Fair, Nitti said there was one type of student that made quite an impression.  “I love the students that have big, huge smiles.” 

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  • The Center for Career Development encourages students to work with them freshman year.
  • The Center offers three main sets of services — Career Exploration, Career Counseling and Job Search Assistance.
  • This semester, approximately 15 companies attended the Career Fair.

share this story »