New Center for Experience and Opportunity offers “one-stop shop” for experiential learning

Sara Krome, Associate Director of Community Outreach and Initiatives, encourages first-year students to sign up for the Community Service Plunge during Orientation.Sara Krome, Associate Director of Community Outreach and Initiatives, encourages first-year students to sign up for the Community Service Plunge during Orientation.

Sara Krome, Associate Director of Community Outreach and Initiatives, encourages first-year students to sign up for the Community Service Plunge during Orientation.

Imagine an office on campus where you can go to find employment, internships, and service learning.

This is precisely what the new Center for Experience and Opportunity (CEO) has to offer. Located under Rouzer Hall, where Conference Services used to be, the CEO will be a “one-stop shop” for experiential learning opportunities.

“When employers are considering their applicant pool, they really look for candidates who have experiences that take them out of the traditional classroom settings,” said Dr. Julia Jasken, the director of the CEO.  “Students often realize the benefits of these experiences too late to actually make them a reality.”

Dr. Jasken will be working to bring new experiential initiatives to the college, oversee the CEO database of experiential opportunities, and ensure that the office is meeting the needs of the college community.

“Very few campuses currently have offices that are as robust as what we are trying to do here. It really sets us apart,” said Dr. Jasken.

The development of this office was part of Dr. Roger Casey’s vision that he laid out in his inaugural presidential address to the college.

“What the CEO will become in the future has everything to do with how it can best serve the needs of the students and faculty,” said Dr. Jasken. “We’re going to be doing a lot of listening to students, faculty and staff on campus to determine what needs are out there, and then we’re going to do our best to creatively meet those needs.

The CEO is more than just a combination of Career Services and the Center for Community Outreach and Service. According to Jim Mayola, Associate Director of Student Employment and Employer Relations, the office will help students figure out where to take their college experience.

The CEO exists to tie educational experiences with real world experiences, not only to build a resume, but to reinforce what students are learning, according to Mayola.

“We want to validate the experiences students are having,” said Mayola.

The office is working to build a repository of campus employment opportunities. It also will have listings of past student-faculty research collaborations, internship opportunities, and community service opportunities.

“We’re excited to be able to use our new CEO database to connect students with experiential opportunities based on their specific interests and career goals,” said Dr. Jasken.

The staff is also available to help students choose a major, develop a resume, and practice interviewing.

Besides Mayola and Dr. Jasken, the CEO staff includes Amanda Blakenship (Associate Director of Internships and Career Planning), Sara Krome ’12 (Associate Director of Community Outreach and Initiatives), Samantha Lopez ’12 (Americorps-Vista Member), and Cristal Fortino (Program Assistant).

Each member of the CEO is cross-trained, so each person is knowledgeable about a variety of areas.

“We want to be a catalyst to bring people together,” said Mayola.  He said that the office will be good for the community as well. Not only will the CEO help build relationships between students and employers, but there will be marketing opportunities for local businesses in the form of job fairs.

There are also opportunities for students to get involved, either by volunteering with the office or applying for a work study position. Lopez, in particular, is seeking students to work with fundraising efforts, grant research, and handbook development for Higher Learning, Inc, a local nonprofit.

Work study can be obtained by volunteering with most local nonprofit organizations, said Krome.  She said the CEO can develop the relationship if the student has something in mind that the CEO isn’t connected to, but the CEO is extremely well-connected.

Krome says that it’s very exciting to be working on campus right after graduating, and that the way her campus experiences are helping her job performance is a testament to the purpose of the CEO.

The CEO is open from 8:30 until 4:30 on weekdays, with 1-3 PM each day available for walk-in appointments.

“Our promise is that we’re always here for you,” said Mayola.