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San Joaquin Valley College Blog

SJVC students and graduates get job search prep and leads that boost hiring success

January 19, 2021

SJVC students and graduates get job search prep and leads that boost hiring successThousands of Medical, Business and Technology students chose San Joaquin Valley College for one reason: They could get the required education and training they needed to reach their desired career goals. It is that simple.

What many of those students had not counted on is the steady, personalized support SJVC’s Career Services Advisors provide that can boost their job search success. Career Services teams on campus and online groom students for their eventual job search with direct assistance in resume writing, job application process, interview expectations and participation and follow-up communication with potential employers.

Job search guidance, professional communication instruction and employment leads are the hallmarks of Career Services’ support. Advisors want those about to graduate to feel confident in their efforts to secure employment in the business or industry they have chosen.

“For us, a successful student is one who graduates and is employed in their field of study,” says Devon Dilley, Career Services Specialist who trains Career Services Advisors on all SJVC campuses.

“From the time they first walk through our front doors, all the way through their program and externship – if their program has an externship – to graduation, their stories do not end, because we will continue working with them after they graduate.” Long after the graduation ceremony confetti settles on the floor, Career Services Advisors are still providing employment leads, resume touch-up advice, interview and networking tips and follow-up communication to grads looking for the right job fit.

Job search coaching is meant to serve both immediate and long-term career goals. “We provide information not only on how to apply for a job, but how to keep a job,” says Devon. Professional attitudes and communication are valued at all stages of job search and job performance.

SJVC’s strong reputation for qualified graduates has many employers coming directly to Career Services departments to recruit candidates for their job openings. Years of working with local employers has built trust in graduates’ professionalism and competencies.

Business and industry employers not only enjoy a proven resource for well-trained personnel, but many participate directly in the education/training/professional readiness of SJVC students and their programs through membership in program Advisory Boards.

“Every single one of our programs is required to hold an Advisory Board on each campus,” says Devon. Those boards members include representatives of business, medical and technical fields who volunteer their ‘insider’ perspectives that might influence program curriculum and practices, as they share technological and operational advances in their industries.

“Advisory Boards are the single most important thing we do,” says Devon. “They are the backbone for what we do. We want their feedback and their opinions, and we want to be sure that the equipment our students are training on in their labs are what they will need to perform on out there in the community.”

Advisory Board members share technological and operational advances their industries have enjoyed, and they influence SJVC’s programs and equipment levels that are needed to remain competitive. “We want to meet those new standards and bring them back to the classroom,” says Devon.

There are other benefits to having active Advisory Boards. “We invite our (medical, dental, business and technology) employers to become Board members because we also want them to see the success of our students and our graduates,” says Devon.

The perfect opportunity for board members to observe students about to enter their field is the once-a year meeting on campus where students and faculty provide demonstrations that spotlight students’ knowledge and skills. (Due to the coronavirus, annual meetings and demonstrations are currently virtual.)

“We have 5-minute student demonstrations that showcase what they are learning in the classrooms,” says Devon. Employers can give students feedback and ask questions about their demonstration. “We want board members’ feedback and opinions, and we want to know that our students are training in labs and using equipment that they will actually need to perform on out in the community.”

“Even though we have moved to a ‘remote world’, it is extremely important that employers see that students are still performing hands-on lab exercises on-campus and they will still be getting the great students we’ve been giving them all these years, she continues.”

Those employers who participate on SJVC Advisory Boards also have the opportunity to take an advance look at students about to enter their externships of practical experience in their chosen field or are about to complete their programs and begin their job search.

Student demonstrations often reveal skill, knowledge and communication attributes that prompt a Board member/employer to request that a student either consider their facility for externship or application for hire after graduation.

Some SJVC campuses may have as many as 80-100 participating employers on their Boards, depending on the size of the campus and number of programs offered. “Every campus must hold at lease one Advisory Board event every year, and the Advisory Board must include each program offered at each campus,” says Devon.

“Devon’s work with students over the years has created strong employer relationships in the community,” says Brandi Hammons, Director of Graduate Services. “Many of the graduates that Devon placed as a Career Services Advisor are now Hiring Managers and continue to partner with SJVC to host externs, hire our graduates and participate in Advisory Boards.”

Helping students and graduates find the perfect match with an employer requires a close working relationship between Career Services Advisors and students/grads. “We have students from all walks of life so we have to listen and understand that what we do with one student may not work with another,” says Devon. “Every individual is different and has different needs. Someone may be a single parent or have an urgency to find a job. And we won’t know those things if we don’t get to know those students – what motivates them.”

Devon encourages her Career Services teams to adapt their job search support, as much as is possible, to the specific parameters of each student’s needs and abilities. That value of flexibility – and inspiration – comes from her own life experience.

“My brother, Adam, is three years older than me and has Down Syndrome,” says Devon. Their close childhood relationship was happy and full of life lessons they shared. “If he struggles with something, he doesn’t back down, and he always has a smile on his face, no matter what.” Devon played tennis in high school but was often frustrated by her many losses. She would stomp back home, and Adam would ask, “Did you finish the match?” The meaning of the question finally struck her. “That’s what was important to him. Not whether I won or lost, but the commitment; did I finish, was the big hurrah for him. I was focusing on the wrong thing. It’s not the intensity of the game, it’s the outcome.”

Devon carries that lesson with her today and passes it on to others when she sees the same misdirected dynamic holding someone back.

“Sometimes students get a little lost in their programs and when we have a student who is frustrated, I go back to ‘Why did you come back to school; why did you do this in the first place? What made you say I need to change my life and do something different. Let’s not lose sight of that.”

“Devon truly has a heart for helping our students succeed,” says Brandi Hammons. “Devon understands the struggles that our students face and is not willing to allow students to give up on themselves. This passion that Devon has for helping students and graduates is expressed in her work with the Career Services teams.”

Devon stays ever steady with support from her husband, Jay, and the continued positive influence Adam so casually exudes. She knows she does not dare complain about things trivial or weighted around him or she will get his blunt, ‘Get over it’.  “He is always laughing no matter what is going on in the world,” says Devon. “And, it makes me say, ‘That’s the way I want to live my life.’”

Embrace it, pass it on.

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