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 Henry Ford College (www.hfcc.edu) in Dearborn. Henry Ford College is a public, two-year college established in 1938 serving about 13,000 undergraduate students.
Our interviewee is Joyce Hovermale – Career Coach. Joyce began her journey at Henry Ford College 10 years ago.
Joe Bamberger - Is Career Coach your only role within Henry Ford College? Or did you move up into that position?
Joyce Hovermale - I started out with the title of Job Developer, but then I think we realize that that's kind of an outdated title. A Career Coach is a little bit more approachable with students as well as with employers. We made the switch a few years back.
JB - What led you to that position?
JH - Before that, I'd been in HR with an automotive supplier. As we know, back in 2008-2009, we had the recession and that pretty much closed down our facility. I started looking at other HR roles but then found this posting and I thought it sounded interesting, working with recruiters and other employers, but at a college. I applied and lo and behold, I was hired and thoroughly enjoy working with students and employers in this role. I feel like it's the best of both worlds.
JB - What would you say your favorite part of your current role is?
JH - I love speaking with the students, helping them make connections with employers, and helping them decide what would be the best entry-level role for them. Actually, it's almost a tie between working with students and employers--because I understand the frustrations they have as recruiters. Just helping them make connections with our students is huge. The third part of my role is collaborating with faculty. As Career Services staff at HFC, we're considered adjunct faculty. I love that we can be on the same playing field and have a real influence in programs and their outcomes. I also enjoy being on different committees across campus to show how Career Services can support other programs, and have a more holistic voice when we talk about student outcomes.
JB - If I'm an employer that doesn't have a relationship with the school yet, what would be your sales pitch to them? Why should an employer consider the students at Henry Ford College?
JH - Many of our students are extremely resilient. Oftentimes, when they come to school, they're juggling current work, they're juggling family or childcare responsibilities. Our students are pretty determined that they want to finish their degree or maybe transfer to complete a four-year degree. I would say that is one of the big draws for our school. Also, our students are extremely diverse. If you're looking to expand your applicant pool, HFC is definitely the place for you. Our student demographics would be probably 1/3 from Detroit and 1/3 from Dearborn and 1/3 from Downriver. If you're familiar with the Detroit area, you can probably see how diverse we are. Those would be the big selling points for employers that are wanting to connect with our students.
JB - What would you say you like least about your role?
JH - Right now during a pandemic, it's very challenging connecting with students. Marketing our programs and some of the initiatives that we have, it's just extremely challenging. Just being able to make those individual connections with students is probably the most frustrating right now.
JB -Do you have a program or event on campus that is your favorite?
JH - I would say our Career Expo because that's the largest event and there's a lot of excitement and buzz about that single event. That would be near the top of the list. Something else that I was excited about this past year, but didn't come to fruition, was a professional development day that we had fully planned out. We were going to host it in April 2020 but we had to cancel at the last minute due to covid. It would have been a full day of helping our students understand what it takes to move from being a student to a professional. The focus was going to be on networking and developing those relationships. We had breakout sessions and a keynote, all of that lined up, so we're hoping that we can still do that maybe a year from now.
JB - Is there a major or degree path within the college you find the hardest to find career placements for?
JH - We have a couple different tracks, one is an occupational track, and those are pretty easy to get students placed, because the students come out so well qualified for those positions. Another track is our liberal arts. A lot of those students though will transfer on to a four-year school, so they're not necessarily connecting directly with our office. But some liberal arts students are just looking to get their two-year degree and then start working somewhere. With some of those students, it's a bit challenging. They don't necessarily reach out to us or know that we're really there to assist them. A lot of the job postings for those students seem to require a four-year degree, so employers don't necessarily look at students who may have the qualifications or competencies, as they can’t see beyond the degree.
JB - If you could advise someone looking to follow a career into career coaching or career services, what piece of advice would you give?
JH - Certainly join organizations like MCEEA so that you can make connections with people that are already in the field. Having some background as a recruiter also helps so you understanding what the weights are on their shoulders, the time to fill the requisitions and the changing dynamics that they experience with hiring managers, some of those deadlines, all of that. I think it's great for an individual to have that hiring perspective going into Career Services. Probably a graduate degree in higher ed would be super helpful. I don't have that, I have got an undergrad in communication and a business minor, and I was in HR for 15 years and then I moved over to Career Services. If I were coaching my younger self, I would say definitely get a master's in higher ed. You can understand the perspective and history of higher ed, and collaborate even better with colleagues on campus. Also, take advantage of professional development and certifications through NACE and the National Career Development Association. They have some fabulous content on their website for career coaches and others that are in career services.
JB - Let's switch gears a little bit and talk about MCEEA. How long have you been a member?
JH - I'm guessing maybe eight years or so. I was a rep for community colleges for a year or two at their quarterly board meetings. I was also on the planning committee for the conferences that was held in Frankenmuth. It was wonderful to be part of that whole planning process and see what goes into putting together such a large event. Developing those friendships and connections with the leadership of MCEEA was also great.
JB - If you can remember, how did you first hear about MCEEA? Who motivated you to get involved?
JH - I'm not sure how I first found out about it, I'm guessing it was probably through staff at our Career Services Office. I do mention MCEEA when I'm meeting with recruiters and say there are some great resources there, and suggest they connect with this organization. So, I do try and spread the word.
JB - I'm assuming you're gonna say the Frankenmuth event you helped plan, but if we had to take that one off the table, do you have a favorite MCEEA event that you've participated in?
JH - They've all been great, it's hard to pull one out. They've all been super helpful, and I so appreciate all the planning that goes into every single conference. I really can’t single one out, because they've all been fantastic.
JB - What keeps you coming back year after year?
JH - I think the relationships that you have, not only with your colleagues in Career Services, but the colleagues at HFC. We're all working with our motto at HFC, "for the good of all." We know the value of education, and how that can translate into changed lives--the trajectory of not only your life but your children and extended family. I also appreciate the relationships with employers. So many of them I know personally or we stay in touch through LinkedIn. Also, being an encouragement for each other during covid, knowing that we'll get through this, and we'll be better for it on the other end.
JB - One final question, if MCEEA had unlimited time and funding, what would be something that would make MCEEA better, or what can MCEEA do to improve?
JH - The workshops during the annual conference are fantastic. Sometimes there may be two great workshops scheduled at the same time and you have to pick between one or the other. It would be great to record them, and then have them available for viewing later on the website. Also, I know we've got a place where individuals can post announcements, but I don't think that's really used as effectively as it could be. Maybe it's not just posting announcements, maybe it's posting a great idea that you've come up with at your office, or a way to collaborate better with employers. Guess I'm thinking of maybe other ways to interact together within MCEEA to share ideas. Maybe it’s a different space than announcements, but you get the idea.
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 Joyce on LinkedIn