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San Joaquin Valley College Blog

A Legacy of Success: Kim Soares’ 38-Year Career at SJVC

November 16, 2023

When you’ve been with San Joaquin Valley College for 38-years, you’ve seen a few things. You’ve witnessed struggle, growth, evolution of ideas and a business model and education standard that influenced private education throughout the state.

You have also seen a multitude of very happy faces and the success behind those smiles.

Kim Soares is part of SJVC’s evolution and has seen thousands of newly minted graduates land the career of their dreams – her thumb squarely on the scale of their job search efforts and successes.

Kim also has the distinction of being San Joaquin Valley College’s longest-term staff member; and still hard at it.


How did this story begin for you?

As a Registered Dental Assistant, I applied for a Dental Assisting program instructor position on the Fresno campus where I worked for a year. At that time instructors were responsible for helping students with job placement, so when a Career Services position opened up on that campus, I was asked to take that role. I currently serve as the Senior Career Services Advisor for our Online division.


Have your responsibilities in Career Services changed over the years?

Honestly, I don’t think the basics have changed that much. Our students come to our college for one purpose – and that is to make their lives better. SJVC’s Mission Statement is geared toward quality education and providing the community with well-trained graduates. It’s been the same dynamic right from the start. It is providing customer service for both students and employers.

I liken Career Services to being match-makers: working with students and graduates to pair them with the right employer. If we prepare our students well – that’s when the magic happens, and that student gets a job offer.


How do you help to make that happen?

We have such a powerful course in place, called Career Academy. Students begin learning about professionalism and workplace success from their first module of instruction. We don’t wait until they are about to graduate to make sure they understand the components of securing and keeping a job in their field of study.


Do those students about to graduate struggle with creating a proper resume?

We have a great tool called Career EDGE that utilizes templates specific to every program that SJVC offers. Those templates are pre-loaded with skills students learn during their courses. The templates can be modified to reflect their own information and job history.

At least 50% of their resume construction is already done! Students work with Career Services to best showcase their skills and abilities.


What does that student-to-graduate job search training look like?

Job search is a partnership between the student and Career Services. We provide the connection between employer job opportunities and students about to graduate. We coach students on professional presentation and communication; and we conduct mock interviews to ensure the candidate is ready to shine.


When does all your collaboration with students pay off?

We place students who have an extern requirement in their program (on-the-job training) in offices looking to hire new employees. The opportunity for employment is there for students to prove themselves capable through their on-the-job performance.

We support the job search process with all students and graduates from certificate to Bachelor’s programs.


What do you most hope to give students with whom you are in contact?

I want them to know that they have someone who is as invested in their success as they are and that I will do everything I can to give them the confidence they need to accomplish their goals. Everyone has their roadblocks. Many students come from a background of fast-food, retail or general labor. Some lack support at home. I want to be the person that helps them to make that new vision of themselves a reality.


What do you enjoy most about your position as Senior Career Services Advisor?

Over the years my job has stayed interesting, and I’ve stayed motivated because I’ve met so many people who have inspired me. And the job has stayed fresh because we work with so many programs (business, medical, dental, trades) that we get to learn the ins-and-outs of a variety of vocations.

I really like the interaction with students and getting to know them. I also have a very strong interest in, and am good at, coaching other advisors.



What are some major changes at SJVC over the last 38 years of your tenure?

Our core has remained the same: Students are here because they want a certain type of program, education and learning environment. SJVC does a great job of supporting the path they have taken – all the way from enrollment to graduation. And that commitment is what makes us really special.

When I first started, we didn’t offer Associate programs, much less Bachelor level degrees. It has been exciting to see SJVC’s growth as an institution of higher learning.

Our employee dress code has changed over the years. When I began my career here female employees were required to wear dresses and men wore ties. It is more relaxed now, but employees are still expected to present themselves professionally. We are all role models for our students.

Students have always worn uniforms specific to their program. Whether they are in Medical, Dental, Business or a Trade program, it makes them feel like they are already part of their profession. Uniforms help the students understand employer expectations regarding appearance and presentation.


What is a memorable moment that stands out for you?

In the mid-80s we started SJVC’s third campus in Fresno with 8 students. The campus was still under construction, so we started the first two months of classes in a leased space in the Tower District. That kind of commitment is a testament to the Perry family stewardship and to the communities we serve.

Another memorable moment was seeing my son, Alex, graduate from SJVC’s Surgical Technology program. He worked six years for Clovis Community Hospital where he became an orthopedic lead. He now runs his own business as a Surgical Tech traveler. His wife, Elizabeth, is a Physician’s Assistant and my husband, Mark, is a dentist. I have my Registered Dental Assisting license, so I guess you can say we are a healthcare family!


What important lessons from your lengthy tenure stay with you?

A lot of people mentored me throughout my career journey. Wendy Mendes, VP of Administration, (retired) was a fantastic example of how to be a strong influence on each student’s success. The way she felt about our mission and the commitment we make every time a student enrolls in SJVC has guided my actions throughout my career.

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