Career Center Helps Students Find Their Path

Daniel Choi

Upon discovering the concept of buoyancy, Greek scholar Archimedes exclaimed “Eureka!” or “I have found it!”

At the Career Center, counselors and staff have made it their mission to help undecided students find their path, one that leads to an exclamation of discovery.

With hundreds of classes offered by approximately 80 different departments at GCC, students may find the task of choosing a major daunting.

For many, indecision is due to the array of options to choose from, while for others it is a matter of self-recognition, getting to know one’s own personality, skills and interests.

According to staff member Anna M. Lafflam, the career team offers fledgling students two options.

“We [first] tell them what our mission is, and then we give them their options of what they can do,” she said. “The first option, the one we recommend, is to make an appointment with a career counselor for half an hour. Then the counselor usually suggests a self-assessment with [a follow-up appointment].”

The other option is to enroll in Student Development 125, a classroom take on the private sessions held between students and career counselors.

“For some people it’s a good idea because of the interaction of the students,” said Lafflam.

“Perhaps, like myself, [because] if I commit to a class and know I have to be there, I seem to follow through on it better.”

Adriana, who chose to withhold her last name, attends GCC on a part-time basis and has benefited from the class as advertised.
“All the stuff I’m doing now [in Student Development 125] really points to who I am,” said the mother of three. “I know that my primary [need] is to work around people.
“I’ve always been an artistic and social person.”

As if to address her extroverted nature, Adriana said she is looking at the possibility of a career as a high school guidance counselor.

She referred to the Career Center staff and her own experience as motivating factors.
“I love what they do here, helping people to find themselves,” she explained. “I’m also interested because of my own personal experience in life.

“Nobody ever really sits down to ask ‘who are you.’ Moreover, I have three kids of my own, so this stuff is good for me because I am able to recognize that all my children have different qualities.”

Located on the second floor of the San Rafael building, the center offers an abundance of resources, from books and videotapes to vocational biographies and the team itself.

Among the throng of resources is a seldom-found computer program intended to help students plan careers ahead of time.
Its name cannot be officially attributed to Archimedes, but one can legitimately assume that the Greek scholar had an indirect influence on it.

EUREKA, a computerized database system founded by counselors from schools in Northern California, provides students with valuable occupation and education information.

To begin, users can take one of several approaches. Students can start by assessing the skills they possess before sorting out which fields are best suited for them.

Once the results appear, they can gather more information about the matching careers, from numbers pertaining to starting salaries and job growth to in-depth descriptions.

Students can also forgo the assessment, and instead, begin the process by choosing a major they are interested in from a long list.

From there, they will find an overview of the major, its prerequisites, which schools offer the program and related careers among other information.

Tatyana Bartholomew, a student services technician, called EUREKA a “bread and butter resource.”

“[It’s] actually used in practically every reputable career center,” she explained at a recent workshop.

The program cannot be accessed online. In fact, GCC pays up to $4,000 a year for its availability in the career center.

Another computer-based program offered at the center is DISCOVER, which is similar to EUREKA but with more interactive tools.

It presents a World-of-Work Map that illustrates the relationship between different careers by breaking up the occupations into six clusters: administration and sales, business operations, technical, science and technology, arts and social service.
Under the clusters are 26 different career areas to navigate with the hopes of finding a designation.

DISCOVER is also found solely in the Career Center, and costs roughly $2,000 per year.
The center offers a number of thematic workshops throughout the year.

Nitesh Anandan, a 19-year-old freshman who attended a “Researching Careers” workshop, described the value in
attending one.

“[It] was definitely informative,” he said. “It’s good because from here on I can continue my research and start thinking about other options that I have.”

Referring to computer science, Anandan said, “that’s what I put down as my major, and my whole family has worked in the field so far, so I’ll probably go into that field, but I’m still exploring other options.”

Other workshops include “Effective Resume” and “Successful Interview Strategies.”
Lafflam, stressing the importance of patience, said, “When people are undecided about their careers, all of the things we do in here are a piece to a puzzle.

“You are putting all these pieces together and they’re forming a picture. There may be some pieces missing, but they will come into play as it goes along.

“It is a process; it does not just happen instantly,” she said. “You have to work [for it].”

For more information on the Career Center, call (818) 240-1000, ext. 5407.