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San Joaquin Valley College Blog

Career Services ‘coaches’ train SJVC students for job search wins

November 16, 2020

Career Services ‘coaches’ train SJVC students for job search winsIf the job of a personal trainer to get clients into the best shape of their lives, consider Career Services Representative, Jane LeBarge, a professional trainer for students about to graduate from their programs on the Ontario campus.

Jane is part of a team devoted to getting soon-to-graduates ready for one of the most important exercises in their lives: job search. Business, Medical and Technical program graduates will soon focus all they have studied, learned and accomplished in their chosen career field toward successful presentation to potential employers. Time to muscle up a strong action plan.

“We are a success support system for students about to graduate,” says Jane. “Some are young or have never had jobs before, so they’ve never participated in an interview. Or their work experience might be in retail, fast food or warehouses, so interviewing for a new career field might be intimidating.”

The training the Career Services Department conducts a seminar that takes students way beyond basic interview preparation. “Our training includes resume writing and development of a professional portfolio where they can upload earned certifications, letters of recommendation and other information important to employers,” says Jane. “It’s something they can take into an interview.”

Students also participate in mock video interviews that get them used to responding comfortably to employer questions. “We go through ‘tell me about yourself’ kinds of questions to get them comfortable with the process,” says Jane.”

“We coach our students on what employers are looking for so that they can go into interviews knowing exactly how they might fit,” says Jane, who will have already gotten a detailed job description from the employer’s representative. She is also the one who often sets up the interview appointment. “We like to have control over setting the appointment so that we know where they (students) are going and for follow-up purposes.”

Including job search preparation in the last weeks of school can be a lot for students to balance, so the Career Services team is ready to provide booster support. “Sometimes there are family, childcare or transportation issues that might get in the way of successful job search,” says Jane. “We do have resources at the college and information we can give students that might help. Also, I try to assist them the best I can in finding leads for them that will better work around their schedules.”

It can be a lot to juggle for the CS department, as well. “We’re one of the biggest SJVC campuses and typically work with 20-30 students each month,” says Jane. “We have a network of employers in our database and are always looking for and developing relationships with new employers.”

Many employers who partner with SJVC for student externships – especially Medical Assisting students who require on-the-job training toward the end of their programs – also recruit new employees from those students who fit well in their business operation. “We try to put our students into work situations where they can be hired once they complete their programs,” says Jane.

It is always a feel-good moment when a match is made after a positive work experience is shared. “One of my favorite moments is when I get feedback from employers saying, ‘We really love your student!’,” says Jane. “Also, the satisfaction I get when students really appreciate how I’ve assisted them. That really makes my job worthwhile.”

Sometimes those rainbows are a little difficult to construct. “I try my best to provide students with as much self-confidence as I can on my end, but sometimes it’s beyond my control,” says Jane. “I give students referrals to places that might assist them; counseling, financial support, childcare – whatever their block is.” She understands their pain.

“Jane brings many talents to the Career Services Department,” says Stephanie Simmons, Regional Career Services Director, Ontario & Hesperia. “Jane has been successful in developing students and graduates to become professionals within their field of study, leading to securing employment.’

“I was very shy and not very confident as well when I was younger,” she reflects. “I have a realistic view of their struggles and empathy for their situation, as well, because I was a single parent and can relate. I had to redirect my sense of self and challenge myself to do things in ways I never saw myself.” She shares her resolve with students she sees in that place of self-sabotage. “There isn’t anything you can’t do if you put your mind to it.”

Jane has her intuitive feelers out for any student showing signs of struggle. “That’s when I double-down. I work with them, give them confidence, and uplift them until they’re able to move on. I don’t want them too dependent on me because as they grow, blossom and enjoy actual rewards of their labor, it makes their success even more likely to happen. I have had many like that; they scramble then find their footing.”

Jane is goal oriented. “I’d like to see them all working in their field of study, and I encourage them to continue their education.” It is also very personal for her. “I have a passion for education, and I have a passion for helping people become successful.”

Students and graduates recognize the personal touch Jane brings to the professional support. “I might get notes, emails little gifts that really warm your heart and make you feel appreciated for the things you’re doing for them. But it’s what you hope to give to all of those with whom you come into contact.”

Watching so many go from student to graduate to career success is a dynamic that never gets old. And Jane is always ready to go another round. “If graduates contact us months down the road and need help, we will help. I don’t want to turn anybody away. Sometimes they’re ready for a move and want help finding something else or they would like referrals to employers. Absolutely, we will support them again.”

Career Service Advisors might suggest a few job-search stretches before returnees grab for the next higher employment bar. Once a coach, always a coach.

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