Students are getting an inside look at how they can get a leg up in their industry from University of Florida alumni, thanks to the Career Connections Center.
Since the launch of the Gator Career Consultant Program just over a year ago, more than 230 alumni have signed up to lead workshops, hold one-on-one consultations or share their insights via podcast or social media.
Student feedback sparked ideas for the program: More opportunities to network, find mentors and collaborate with alumni were top among the asks in a campus-wide listening tour by Ja’Net Glover, senior director of career services at UF.
“The response to it has been great,” Simmonds said. “This was a way for us to fulfill that need that has been well-received not only by students, but by the alumni that are involved.”
Incorporating alumni voices into events led by the Career Connections Center, part of the Division of Student Life at UF, has added a new dimension to existing workshops such as those for resume writing, networking and career planning. Rotating series of alumni voices keep events fresh for students of all years, Simmonds said.
“Adding them to workshops our students may already be familiar with adds a different perspective to re-engage students,” she said.
Some consultants also lead identity-based workshops as part of the Career Connections Center’s four-week Envision Career Academy, where Black, Hispanic and Latino students are paired with mentors who share their lived experiences.
“In that particular program, we discuss things like imposter syndrome and advocating for yourself in the workplace,” she said. “That insight has been tremendous for students – kind of like affirming their potential and showing that, ‘Yes, I’ve done it so you can do it, too.’”
Jelece Morris, who is a consultant, entrepreneur and investor, became a consultant when a fellow alum told her about the needs of current students.
“I recognize the importance of having a diverse set of alumni be accessible to students and wanted to add my voice and experience to the conversations,” she said.
Tarolyn Plumley, a public education specialist at the Citrus County Mosquito Control District, said becoming a Gator Career Consultant has enabled her to keep growing in her field.
“I learn about other fields from other consultants and how I can be a better advocate in mine,” she said.
The Career Connections Center accepts applications to become a Career Consultant year-round. Any UF alum can apply here and tailor their participation to their schedule.
Learn more about the Career Connections Center.
Sign up to be a Gator Career Consultant.
Read Q&As with Tarolyn Plumley and Jelece Morris for how they got to their current paths and tips for students.
Sources: Keira Simmonds, email@example.com;