A student shakes hands with a potential employer for a chance at post-college careers.

Feature News

Career Development: finding the right post-college careers

Jacob Imm

Mar 30, 2020

Array of events and resources make job hunting more accessible

Among the thousands of success stories North Central College has produced, many started with just one person’s dream. Perhaps it started with the dream of helping animals, attending a vet school in Chicago, and becoming a vet.  In between the dream and the real-life job market, the North Central Office of Career Development makes the difference.

The office includes three hard-working staff in Director Haydee Nunez and Assistant Directors Juli O’Brien and Barbara Fouts. The three do all they can to help students find high demand jobs. They set up events giving students the chance to win over their future bosses, and they make sure their job seekers go into those meetings prepared. Whether they want to be software developers or social studies teachers, North Central students are always ready to impress.

“We’ve worked hard over the last few years to improve our relationships with employers. We want to make sure our students have the best chance they can at internships and full-time jobs when they graduate,” Nunez said.

For example, this semester students have met on campus with large global companies like Molex and Aon. They shopped for free gently used clothes to use for interviews. They went to the Associated Colleges of Illinois (ACI) Job and Internship Expo with students from 26 other colleges in Illinois came to learn about open internships and jobs. They even got training on résumé writing, interviewing, and how to go through a career fair the right way.

The office sets up visits to even more events off-campus, like the College Career Consortium of Illinois (CCCI) Fall Interview Day at Benedictine University. There more than 20 companies offered more than 50 full-time jobs and internships.

In September, the office hosted one of its biggest events, the Employer Meet and Greet. Thirty-one different companies and firms from across Chicagoland sent representatives to sit at tables. Students had the chance to put their faces and résumés in front of more than two dozen potential employers.

They hunted for jobs as manufacturing managers, computer systems analysts, and marketers for professional sports teams. The event was also open to students not yet ready to apply for jobs, but welcomed to tour the room and get advice for future career events.

O’Brien has led on-campus recruiting and coordinated the Employer Meet and Greet event.  “I was excited to see the growth of this event in the second year and all the alumni returning to campus to represent their organizations,” she said. “We are building strong relationships with . employers and making North Central the best place to recruit students.”

Students line up to meet companies at an event, looking for post-college careers.

The Career Meet and Greet event brought dozens of employers to campus.

Doing the job of finding the job

Events like the meet and greet have been the start of many students’ professional careers. Sometimes the path to the right job is quick. Take Brandon Butler ’19, who just graduated from North Central with a degree in entrepreneurship and small business management. He’s working for Impact Networking in Naperville.

Butler met with Nunez early in his career at North Central and found an internship, but she knew a recruitment event was missing from the puzzle.

“She looked into my eyes and said to me, ‘You are going to this career fair.’ So I did,” he said. “When I got there, I met my current manager Rocco, and had a fantastic conversation about the job. Rocco wanted me to apply and go through the interview process.

“I am now on the Bolingbrook sales team as an account manager with two sales under my belt and (I’m in) an amazing environment. I couldn’t have done this, or found Impact, without Haydee’s guidance.”

The Career Development staff have a computer system to help keep track of their working students. They use it to keep in touch with students while they work at their internships and jobs. They encourage students to talk up North Central while they’re at work, too.

For example, Jordan Rembrecht ’20, a human resource management major, is interning for Molex and helped get her company ready for the Meet and Greet at North Central.

“I registered Molex for the event as well as ordered the items we (had) at our table,” she said. “I posted our open positions on North Central’s Handshake account so students (could) apply for them ahead of time. I also contacted Molex employees who were alumni and told them they should come to the event.”

(Our) students are always working on the skills bosses look for, like leadership, teamwork, communication and problem solving.

Haydee Nunez

The job search as part of college life

The Career Development staff knows how busy students are. Nunez pointed out how the office provides options for every student to work on their career search around their other commitments.

“Our students are very active, so we have focused attention on online support,” she said. “That includes career videos, an online résumé builder and video interview practice.”

None of these things are as good as meeting in person, so staff considers that, too.

“We offer a range of individual appointments to students and are always somewhere on campus delivering a presentation to a class or group,” Nunez said. “Our students really like going to our drop-in center when they need to get their résumé reviewed, ask an internship question, or get help with the job hunt in general. The staff are all students who are trained career advisors, and that makes it easier.”

The help North Central students get from Career Development staff stays with them long after they graduate.

“Being on the talent acquisition team at Molex, I have seen firsthand how valuable the interaction is between an employer and students at recruiting events,” said Rembrecht. “It gives you an advantage over other students who did not attend.”

It’s no accident North Central students are well equipped for their first impression on potential employers.

“We focus on a student’s development of career readiness skills while at North Central,” said Nunez. “(Our) students are always working on the skills bosses look for, like leadership, teamwork, communication and problem solving.

“We hear from employers that they love partnering with us and how we give them direct access to potential interns and full-time staff.”

When asked about job search advice for prospective students, Rembrecht said, “Start early! Begin working on your résumé and applying to internships and jobs right when the school year begins. While it may seem early, recruiting season gets earlier every year so you want to be sure you don’t wait too long to start looking.”

To find out more about North Central College and start your application, go to northcentralcollege.edu/apply.

Directors Haydee Nunez and Juli O'Brien, in between helping students look for their post-college careers.

Haydee Nunez and Juli O'Brien