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 takes us to Macomb Community College - MCC (https://www.macomb.edu/) a multi-campus community college in Macomb County. The college's offerings include university transfer, early college, professional certification, workforce development, continuing education, and enrichment.
Our interviewee is Lisa Phillips – Internship Coordinator. She has worked at Macomb for 12 years. Before coming to Macomb, Lisa used to work at Kettering University for a dozen years or so working as a cooperative education manager.
Joe Bamberger - In your current role, walk us through your day-to-day.
Lisa Phillips - I spend my time helping students prepare for the internship process and identify opportunities. I'm always marketing our internship program to our students, faculty, and area employers. My goal is to bridge a connection between an employer who has opportunities, with students who are looking for real world experience in their major. It is s a wheel that is constantly spinning with many moving parts. It's a good thing; it helps you hone your skills.
JB - What would you say your favorite part of your job is?
LP - There are so many aspects of my job that I love! It is always such a rush when a student interviews and receives an offer for an internship. It is a great feeling helping students find work experience especially in their field of study. Another aspect of my job that I love is when students share their experience and what they have learned during their internship. My interns are required to submit an end of semester evaluation. I am always amazed to read these evaluations and the feedback from the students. It is great when they realize that they are in the right career and right academic program. That is such a good feeling.
JB - If I'm an employer that doesn't currently have a relationship with Macomb, why should I consider your students? What makes them unique?
LP – Macomb Community College students are hard-working students. The majority of our students are working while taking classes. Our faculty have extensive industry experience and bring that knowledge into the classroom. Macomb students are able to take core classes very early in their academic program making them Career Ready very quickly. This is a benefit to our employer partners who are looking for workers who can apply their technical skills on the job very quickly.
JB - Do you have a favorite event on campus as it relates to career readiness or job searching?
LP – I love hosting employers on campus, providing them with a platform to share information about their company and opportunities with our students. Being home and working virtually this past year has opened up new ways of doing things including hosting events. For example, we hosted a virtual event this spring with Quicken Loans to discuss their internship program. We had over 80 students registered for this event and I believe that the virtual format had a positive impact on attendance allowing students to attend from the convenience of their homes.
JB - When you look at your population of students, whether it's generational, or whatever it might be, what do you think they struggle with the most?
LP – Confidence. Knowing that they have the skills set and are ready for an internship. They feel that because they don't have the work experience, they're not ready. My job is to help them identify the technical and theoretical knowledge that they have learned in the classroom, which they can apply in the real world. Along with their motivation, interest, and drive! A lot of what I do with students is to help lift them up and to remind them that they have a lot to offer and that they are ready.
JB – Is there a particular program or degree path you've struggled the most with when it comes to connecting with career opportunities?
LP - No, the demand for all of my programs is very high. I work with our business and technology students. These students are taking core classes right away, and are able to apply those skills in the workplace. They have so much to offer within one or two semesters, they're ready to go, they're ready to be marketed.
JB - Do you have a least favorite part of your job?
LP – Keeping the lines of communication open with students is sometimes difficult. Some assume the process is over after they have secured an internship. I encourage them to register their internship experience on their academic transcript so I can continue to support their learning. I try to keep my focus on the ultimate goal, which is helping students gain valuable experience with great employers.
JB - When you talk about an employer-student relationship, what do you find with your students, engages the most when it comes to employers?
LP - Name recognition. So many students want to work for large companies or places where their family worked since this is what they know. It is important for our local employers to work with us to help build their brand recognition on campus.
JB - If I am that employer that doesn't have brand recognition, what sort of steps would you recommend to any company that's trying to build brand awareness on your campus?
LP - Posting in our job database, Handshake, and also having a great posting. Make sure that the posting is detailed and highlights the skills that the student will develop and learn during the internship or job. We are also happy to invite employers to speak with students about their organization.
JB - Let's shift gears a little bit. How long have you been involved with MCEEA?
LP – I have been involved with MCEEA since 1997 or 1998.
JB - What keeps you coming back year after year?
LP - MCEEA is a great organization and it's fabulous to see where we were, and where we are today. When I started in 97, or 98 there were two groups, one which focused on internships and co-op, and the other on career services. The two separate groups collaborated to merge and form one organization. We spent a lot of time working to bring these two organizations together to form MCEEA. I was part of that process and part of the wonderful committee who worked together for months to develop the new organization. I am very proud that I was the first president of MCEEA. I love this organization! It is amazing to look back over the 20 plus years that I've been in higher education and part of this organization and see everything that has been accomplished. It's really impressive.
JB - Beyond just the merging of the organizations, what are some of the biggest changes you've seen over that time?
LP – MCEEA has worked very hard to increase employer involvement. Both groups were struggling with membership before the merger so to see the increase in employer membership is really great. This is a great organization and I will continue to support the mission of the organization as an educator. One thing that hasn’t changed is the goal to prepare and develop a strong workforce in the State of Michigan.
JB - Talking about growth in that time period, let's say MCEEA has unlimited time and funding, what sort of additional programming or changes or modernizations would you be hoping to see out of MCEEA going forward?
LP - Taking advantage of the things that we've learned during the pandemic: like using virtual platforms to host more events virtually. I think there's lots of opportunity for professional development.
JB - One final question for you. If a student is interested in following your career path into Career Services, or employer relations or internship coordination, what piece of advice would you give them?
LP - Be an active student on their college campus, do informational interviews with people from different academic departments, expose themselves to things that they probably have no idea are available to them. Utilize your career services office, do an internship, work with those people, and build relationships with these different areas. Most importantly, join MCEEA!
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 Lisa on LinkedIn