“The word ‘career’ is not for everyone,” said Lisa Tandan, director of the Career Center.
That may seem like strange advice from a person with “career” in their job title. But Tandan knows that you may be a first-year student trying to figure out what your major should be, or you’re looking for an internship, or grad school, or maybe you want to spend a year volunteering in the Peace Corps. Maybe you have no idea what’s next for you.
That’s OK. The UNC Asheville Career Center is there to help you with all of those things.
“Our vision is that every student at UNC Asheville is ready for what’s next,” said Tandan. “We’ve found that students here are interested in strong experiences, and good connections, and those are the things that we’re here to work with students on. And of course, self-reflection, self-exploration, getting to know who you are and who you want to be.”
Tandan says that means doing things a little differently in the Career Center. For starters, the Career Center is now drop-in—you don’t need an appointment or even to wear anything fancy. Just show up at the Career Center with your questions, your goals, your ideas, and go from there.
“We want to help students succeed now and next – whatever next looks like,” said Cate O’Connor, the new student engagement coordinator for the Career Center. “We’re also a really awesome group of people who are down to earth, friendly, and approachable. So why not stop by?”
But they’re also trying to get outside of the Career Center, bringing career education into the classroom.
“When I talk about career education I mean it a lot more broadly than, how do you do a resume, how do you interview?” Tandan said. “I mean career education as in, who am I, and who do I want to be, what are my values, how do I make decisions? What are the things that are really important to me, what experiences to I want to gain while I’m here, what draws me to those experiences? Really just getting to know yourself, because the better you know yourself the better you can decide what you want to do next.”
“I would love for students to know that the Career Center offers much more than just jobs and resume-writing assistance,” said Chelsey Augustyniak, the new associate director for career education. Augustyniak came to Asheville from Oregon, where she worked in the University of Oregon’s career services for eight years. “We are here to help students determine which major may be a good fit for them based on their interests, and also to chat about what types of jobs you can get with your major–spoiler alert: you can do so many things!”
Tandan said the Career Center is also looking for ways help students make strong connections with alumni, potential employers, or just people who are doing things the students find interesting.
They’re also working on ways to be good partners on campus, including collaborating with other groups and programs. For example, the Career Center participated in the campus event with non-binary model Rain Dove, where they discussed with students how to be out in the workplace, work clothes for non-binary people, the Corporate Equality Index, and equal employment protections in different cities and states.
And they’ll continue to hold events like career fairs—now called Next Fest—internship expos, salary negotiation workshops and more.
“There are so many things you can do in the liberal arts, and so many experiences to gain, and self-reflections to have,” Tandan said. “We want to be a strong partner in that work, because it’s happening all over campus all the time.”
It’s an approach that Tandan and her colleagues in the Career Center hope will reach every student on campus, wherever they are in finding their “next.”
“I definitely encourage all students to set up an appointment with a Career Coach, even if they don’t yet have specific questions about their career development,” Augustyniak said. “This period of discovery, development, uncertainty, and curiosity is what we specialize in!”
Visit a Career Coach by coming by the Career Center during their drop-hours, Monday – Thursday from 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. or Fridays from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m., or make an appointment through Handshake.