Q&A with Career Services Advisor Natasha Reed
Natasha Reed has made a career out of her compassion for others. Where she once, as a mental health professional, directed her energy toward community outreach for the homeless and disenfranchised, she now, as Career Services Advisor for SJVC’s Bakersfield campus, devotes her energy to those students about to complete their Business, Medical or Technical programs and launch their new careers. “I’m still changing lives,” she says, “And now it’s for those students about to launch their new careers.”
Natasha does not take that responsibility and influence casually. She wants all of ‘her’ students/graduates to secure the job they’ve envisioned after so many months of sacrifice, study, and anticipation.
What is your role and how is it a fit for you?
I help those about to graduate find work in their chosen field. We help students prepare resumes and portfolios, conduct mock interviews and network with partner/employers for future job interviews. We bring employers to campus to talk with students about their hiring process and positions for which they might qualify.
I go into classrooms and talk about professionalism and what it means to incorporate professionalism into their demeanor. I’m always looking for more ways to positively influence students and graduates toward career success.
Our partner-employers work with us to provide them with well-trained candidates for job openings.
What does the Career Services Department provide students?
I like to make sure that our students are set up for success. I go to their classrooms and talk about professionalism, what employers are expecting from them and what they can expect in transitioning from student to career life.
It’s an adjustment from student to employee, and I remind them to maintain their professionalism. From their appearance – hair groomed, clean-and-pressed clothes – to effective communication, a professional look is key. I tell them, ‘You went to SJVC, an excellent school; hold your head up; be excited!’
What is key to a successful job interview?
Some students come in a little timid; less confident. We may have to do a few more interviews and they may need a little extra time. When they leave they realize that they have all the tools they need to start their careers – including their job search.
Our (Career Services) team is all hands-on and supportive of one another. Our one goal is to make sure our students are successful in their job search.
How do you fit a student to a potential position?
We build rapport with our students. We don’t want anyone to go to work where they might not be happy.
The more well-rounded students are, the more employer needs they are likely to meet. I remind our Clinical Medical Assisting students that they are not just Medical Assistants, but medical professionals. And, they have greater opportunities if they are willing to consider both front and back office positions.
What makes a graduate’s job search successful?
I tell my students, “Faith without work is dead. You actually have to do some of the footwork; you have to apply yourself. It’s a partnership. If I find employers for you and I send you the job application, you need to be proactive and act on that.”
Do you acknowledge and celebrate job search success?
When a student comes into my office with a ‘I found a job!’ I do a happy dance and sing a little song. If they tell me over the phone, I do the same thing! I send them a ‘congratulations’ card and like them to know I celebrate their success with them.
What is one of the best things about your Career Services Advisor position?
One of my Business Office Administration students told me she couldn’t have done it without me and appreciated everything I’d done for her. She’d had personal challenges, was homeless for a bit. I gave her some resources to help her with her personal life.
We have connections with regional and mental health facilities, counseling, food stamps, gas card and places to live. I keep applications for those services at my desk. There is help on personal and professional levels. Sometimes, you just need that little extra support. She stuck through it all and graduated at the top of her class.
What motivates you to do your job well?
I wish when I was growing up I’d had this kind of support. We are here to support our students. I put my mental health worker hat on, or my career services hat on – and sometimes I have to wear them both. But there’s a professional reward for me.
How long does that SJVC Career Services support last?
I hear from graduates every day. Alumni are always welcome to come back, and we will continue to help them find work in their field. I’ll be calling employers to see who might be hiring. Sometimes grads just need a new opportunity.
What are your long-term goals?
I’m always looking for ways to move up, promote professionalism and influence students and graduates. That, right there, is the reward for me.
We invite you to learn more about Natasha! Find out what SJVC means to her and what inspires her to succeed everyday.
Our RN to BSN program is a Bachelors degree completion option for Registered Nurses.