Welcome to MCEEA’s Faces on Campus campaign!
Over the next year – we will be highlighting the career educators and employers who make up our great organization. Each week we will pay tribute to the individuals who devote their lives to helping students take that key first step into their professional career and the employers who welcome and develop them into the professionals they will become.
We hope you enjoy the insights, stories, and laughs of the people of MCEEA.
This week brings us to the Wayne State University (https://wayne.edu/) a public research university in Detroit - Michigan's third-largest university. Wayne State consists of 13 schools and colleges offering approximately 350 programs to more than 26,000 graduate and undergraduate students.
Our interviewee is Ashlyn Poole – Office Services Clerk in the Career Services Office supporting the whole campus. She has been in this role for two years.
Joe Bamberger - For those that might not be aware, what do you do in your role?
Ashlyn Poole - I talk with employers who want to set up recruiting events on campus. I advertise events I set up. I send out email blasts to students, to social media for the office. I do like clerical work as well. When we are in the office, sometimes I sit up front and greet students.
JB - Do you have a favorite part of your job?
AP - I like to do advertising. Sending out emails to the students, and reminding them of the event.
JB - If an employer comes to you and is looking for some ideas on the type of events you feel resonate well with students, what would you say?
AP - Usually what would work best for the employers, is an information session about their company. Students love to see that and they usually attend those types of meetings. So that's what I recommend to employers.
JB - If I'm an employer that doesn't currently have a relationship with Wayne, why should I consider Wayne State University? What makes your students stand out?
AP - They are a diverse group of students. They are used to working with people of different backgrounds because our campus is so diverse. So they have just that skill set that works really well when you're working with the outside world, because you've had so much diversity on campus, it translates into diversity in the workplace.
JB - Has there been an employer event that has wowed you the most? Where an employer went above and beyond or really went out of the box creative in finding a way to attract or engage students?
AP - I've seen that at the career fairs. The employers really go above and beyond with the students at the career fairs because they are trying to stand out from other employers. So I've seen a couple of employers do that at our in-person career fairs.
JB - How have things changed in light of COVID?
AP - Everything's virtual now. People who are used to doing virtual events have a leg up because they have already developed methods of interacting with the students virtually. Mostly, not being able to be in the office and communicate with students face to face, really has changed a lot.
JB - I imagine that makes things trickier for both sides of the equation.
AP - Yeah.
JB - Do you find any particular major on campus is more challenging to connect with career opportunities versus others?
AP - Um, not that I found no. It's just the people that are willing, or that are well versed in doing virtual events. They have an advantage. No specific major is harder to interact with, virtually.
JB - When you look at the work you do, we talked about your favorite part of the job. Do you have something that you like least?
AP - No, not really. I really like my job.
JB - That's good. As you develop in your career, what sort of position are you gunning for? What's the next step for you?
AP - I would like to go back to school and get my master's degree, so I can be a career counselor. Just follow in the footsteps of the companies that I support in my office. I see they work really well with the students and they have events and they really help students out and let them know how to navigate in the virtual world now, and in the career world. I really want to do that next.
JB - Did you do your undergraduate at Wayne as well?
AP – No, I went to Macomb and Oakland University.
JB - What attracted you to begin your career at Wayne State?
AP - I work at a court downtown, and a friend of mine there, her daughter was working at Wayne State, and she was telling me that it was a really great place to work, and her daughter really liked it. I applied and the rest is history.
JB - When we talk about the students, do you think there's something in job searching that the current generation of students struggles with the most? Or what do you see is the hardest part for them?
AP - Just being professional, and learning how to navigate things now. Everything is changing so fast. Just adapting to the fast-paced environment. I think that's the hardest part, just the rapid changes that are happening now, because of COVID. I think that's a big part of the struggle that students would have.
JB - Is there something that students hate that employers do that you hear students complain about the most?
AP - I don't know about employers, but there are a lot of scams that happen online. When students are trying to talk to legitimate employers, trying to figure out what is a real opportunity versus what sounds too good to be true. 've heard a lot from students about that.
JB - And how long have you been involved with MCEEA?
AP - I just joined last year. I haven't done a lot with it. We were supposed to have a meeting, but I have not done a lot with it yet.
JB - As you work in your current role and then develop into the career that you're aspiring towards what are you hoping to get out of an organization like MCEEA?
AP - Networking with different career services offices, and getting ideas from them on what has worked best for their students.
JB - For someone that is graduating from an undergrad program that's looking to follow your path into your type of role, what pieces of advice would you give to them?
AP - Be willing to do work that is outside of the box and have ideas on how to improve your office. Some people might be a little behind the times because they've been working in this field for a long time. It's developing so fast into a virtual world, and since they're graduating, they're probably a little younger, so they are well versed on the internet. Just have more ideas about how to develop and move forward, online.
JB - If you had the keys to the office and you were the Director of Career Services, what's one change you would make?
AP - Oh, man, that's a hard question. More updated technology. I would do that definitely.
JB - Anything specifically?
AP - Computers and webcam, since that's big now. I would have a space for virtual events, that if employers want to come on campus and do that they could do that. That would be more what I will do for the office.
JB - I like the idea of a virtual space, that'd be clever. Any final thoughts or information that we haven't talked about that you'd like to share about your role, the student population, or what it means to work in career services?
AP – I would just say the key to working in Career Services is to care about the students and just be invested in their future and what they're doing. Take an interest in learning more about the careers that are getting bigger in the future.
JB - Absolutely. Great. Any questions you have for me?
AP - Oh, no, that I can think of. Perfect.
JB - All right, well thank you for taking the time to do this brief interview.
Faces on Campus is a weekly interview series highlighting members of MCEEA conducted by Joe Bamberger of Emerge Consulting. Be sure to follow MCEEA on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and MCEEA.org
Connect with Ashlyn on LinkedIn