Mentor With A Smile

Dr. Sophia Parpia, ’91, got involved with the UCF Parent & Family Philanthropy Council and found a way to help dental students.

By Melanie Brown, UCF Career Services

ORLANDO, Fla. (Aug. 30, 2016) – Dr. Sophia Parpia, ’91, has been practicing dentistry since 1995 and has always aspired to help others enter the field, especially students at her alma mater.

She and her husband, Amman Parpia, opened a local dental practice in 1999 in Altamonte Springs. Since then, she has helped high school and college students take a hands-on approach to exploring the field of dentistry.

“I’m willing to help whenever anyone asks,” Parpia said.

She gives students an opportunity to visit her practice, get accustomed to various dental instruments, interact with patients and observe different procedures.

Recently, the UCF Pre-Dental Student Association (PDSA) participated in two all-day workshops with Parpia that went beyond observation. Students had the chance to prepare extracted teeth for composite restoration (fillings) and take impression molds on their peers.

“You never know if this is what you want to do until you try it. You can end up in dental school and realize that you don’t like working in someone’s mouth,” explained Parpia, who wasn’t as fortunate to gain real-world experience prior to entering dental school.

Parpia is a first-generation dentist and was one of the only students in her graduating class to not come from a family of dentists.

“I felt I was at a disadvantage. I didn’t have a lot of the hands-on practice that many of my peers entered school with,” Parpia said. “I want to help students know what to expect before they get to school.”

The Parpias have two daughters that attend UCF – Gabriela, a biomedical sciences sophomore, and Aleena, a freshman studying health sciences-pre clinical.

Gabriela is a member of the Burnett Honors College and was a National Merit Scholarship finalist coming out of Seminole High School. She intends to follow in her mother’s footsteps and now works part-time as a dental assistant at her parents practice.

“I feel very fortunate to get to do this. It’s great experience. I feel more on my feet and will be ready for dental school [when the time comes],” Gabriela said.

In September 2015, the Parpias learned of the UCF Parent and Family Philanthropy Council while touring the Burnett Honors College. The council is in its inaugural year at UCF, and they felt compelled to join.

The primary mission of the Parents Council is to engage parents and family members who lend their talents and provide support for vital student programs. Through engagement with the council, Dr. Parpia connected to the PDSA and other students at UCF.

“This is so important to me, and I’m so proud to help so many students,” said Parpia, who has now helped a few alumni do more than just gain experience prior to dental school.

Andreina Alacrón, ’10, shadowed Parpia while studying at UCF and went on to graduate from the University of Colorado’s School of Dental Medicine in May.

Alacrón first came to Parpia’s practice to obtain observation hours and was soon hired as a dental assistant due to “good work-ethic and enthusiasm about dentistry.” Parpia helped her through her application process, and now that Alacron has graduated from dental school, she will return on Aug. 18 as the practice’s newest practitioner.

Another UCF alumna, Aamna Zaidi, ’16, pursued a similar path in working with Parpia, who wants to hire Zaidi once she is finished with school. Parpia aspires to help more women get into dentistry.

Andrew Bertot, a Burnett Honors College student and the vice president of the PDSA, is thankful to be able to shadow professionals in his field.

“It’s a great opportunity when a dentist opens up their office and lets us figure out if this is what we want to do,” Bertot said.

A number of PDSA students will be first-generation dentists, just like Parpia.

“What Dr. Parpia is doing to help our students advance in their field is extraordinary,” said Neal Robinson, assistant director of leadership annual giving at UCF Alumni. “Career Services invites alumni, parents and friends of the university to host students for short-term job shadowing experiences through the department’s job shadowing program.”

The UCF Externship Program is a 1-5 day job shadow program open to all UCF students. Twenty-four percent of students who completed the 2015 Winter Externship program received a job offer.

Five Things Alumni Need to Know — Feb. 29, 2016

UCFastival

Here are five things you should know this week:

  1. Dr. Phillips Charities made the largest private gift to UCF Downtown on Tuesday, investing $3 million in the campus project.
  2. UCF Career Services and the UCF Alumni Association hosts a Meet Your Mentor networking event designed to motivate, inspire and empower young women to pursue leadership roles in various industry fields on Tuesday evening.
  3. Thinking about going back to school? Learn more about the UCF Professional MBA program during a special Lunch & Learn series at the UCF Executive Development Center (downtown Orlando) on Thursday from noon to 1 p.m.
  4. The spring football game is scheduled for April 16 at 7 p.m. Campus activities will begin at noon, and will feature tailgating, music and motocross.
  5. The UCF Arboretum is celebrating the completion of a new campus greenhouse that will support its educational and research efforts. The public is invited to a ribbon cutting and open house that will take place from 2-4 p.m. on Friday, March 25.

Five Things Alumni Need to Know — Nov. 9, 2015

Rosen-puppies

Here are five things you should know this week:

  1. The UCF Alumni Association and Career Services is hosting a Virtual Networking Hour tomorrow from 4-5 p.m., where participants can connect with fellow Knights working in different industries in their own backyards and around the world.
  2. To commemorate Veterans Day on Wednesday, UCF is honoring and remembering veterans during a special, month-long series of events.
  3. Kenyatta Rivers, ’88, ’90, Ph.D., associate professor in the UCF Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders in the College of Health and Public Affairs, is teaching students how to help children, adolescents and adults acquire effective speech, language and communication skills.
  4. Once again, UCF student-athletes are graduating at a higher rate than any other NCAA Division I FBS public institution in the nation, with a sixth-best mark overall.
  5. The UCF Rosen College of Hospitality Management’s Knight-Thon team partnered with Pet Rescue by Judy to bring 14 shelter dogs to the Rosen campus for a Rent-a-Pup fundraiser that brought in more than $500 toward the team’s $3,000 goal, benefiting the Greater Orlando Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.

Five Things Alumni Need to Know — Nov. 2, 2015

Congratulations to former UCF catcher Drew Butera on his World Series win!
Congratulations to former UCF catcher Drew Butera on his World Series win!

Here are five things you should know this week:

  1. On Sunday, the Kansas City Royals’ Drew Butera, former catcher for UCF, became the first Knight to win a World Series!
  2. The UCF Alumni Association and Career Services will hold a job search strategy workshop Tuesday, Nov. 3, at 5:30 p.m. —MORE EVENTS
  3. Alumnus Julien Meyer, ’14, CEO of BlurtBox, has created a Rosen College Entrepreneurship Competition, which will begin in January.
  4. Valencia College’s Board of Trustees decided the college will contribute $2 million to UCF’s $60 million proposed downtown campus plan.
  5. For the fourth year in a row, UCF received a Tree Campus USA designation from the Arbor Day Foundation.

Career Partnership Initiatives Increase Alumni Success

Alumni-Career-Services-staff
(Left to right) The UCF Alumni Association’s career services representatives: Melissa Brennan, scheduling assistant; Leah Goldson, ’04; and Matthew Melendez, ’15, assistant career advisor

By Judy Pardo

“It’s been quite a busy year in the alumni career services office,” explains its coordinator, Leah Goldson.

The partnership between UCF Career Services and the UCF Alumni Association was formed one year ago to assist alumni in need of career guidance. And, it’s been incredibly successful, Goldson says.

Partnership initiatives have included:

  • Individual career counseling appointments — either in person, via phone or Skype — for more than 600 alumni, with workshops and outreach impacting an additional 450 alumni
  • Resume, cover letter and LinkedIn profile critiques in real time on drop-in Wednesdays, from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m., at the UCF FAIRWINDS Alumni Center
  • Monthly job search strategy workshops/group career counseling sessions offered the first Tuesday of every month, from 5:30-6:30 p.m. in the UCF FAIRWINDS Alumni Center
  • Workshops, such as “How to Start a Business,” and alumni career panels

“Looking toward the future, we’re excited about creating programming for career changers and those out of the workforce for prolonged periods of time,” Goldson says. “Virtual networking is also a hot topic, as there are 260,000 UCF alumni, and it’s important to make sure all who need assistance are reached.”

UCF Career Services is an office in the Division of Student Development and Enrollment Services.

Need your own career guidance? Visit UCF Alumni’s Career Services page to schedule an appointment.

This story appeared Aug. 28, 2015, on UCF Today. It has been edited in accordance with AP and alumni association style guidelines. See original article.

Nearly 10-percent Increase in College Grad Hires

job-hunting
Orlando is the fastest-growing metro area in the country, with more than 4 percent in job growth.
(Photo: Deanna Ferrante, Central Florida Future)

By Deanna Ferrante
Senior Staff Writer, Central Florida Future

You’ve turned in your last assignment, taken your last test and walked across the stage at graduation. But, there’s still one thing to do: Find a job.

Employers are planning to hire 9.6 percent more college graduates than they did last year, according to a recent survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

Sean Snaith, director of UCF’s Institute for Economic Competitiveness, said it seems to be a high percentage — even though Orlando is the fastest-growing metro area in the country, with more than 4 percent in terms of job growth. That’s well over the state’s rate of growth at around 3 percent and twice the national rate, which is just above 2 percent.

“We’re now in the seventh year of this economic recovery,” Snaith said. “I think hiring has been improving not rapidly, but improving steadily.”

Lynn Hansen, executive director of UCF Career Services, said it’s a combination of the economy and the university’s location that makes Orlando an advantageous area for graduates.

“I think we’re fortunate that we’re located where we’re located,” she said. “With the history of technology companies, transportation, health care and hospitality here, I think we have a lot going for us.”

Big-name corporations, such as Pepsi, Frito-Lay, Target, Lockheed Martin, Yelp, Yahoo and even the CIA, have all come to UCF to recruit students. Hansen said employer recruitment on campus has seen a significant increase. In spring, Career Services was actively working with 1,077 employers — an increase from 563.

“To me, that’s an indication that the demand is up for talent,” she said.

In a 2013-14 Career Services survey of 8,658 graduating students, 71 percent said they were seeking full-time or part-time employment. Of that number, 42 percent were already in the workforce or had accepted job offers, and 8 percent had been offered positions.

Students who were already employed or had received a full-time job were in the hospitality services and health care industries. Education and engineering were other popular choices.

Also in 2013, the Florida Department of Education found that out of the 12,047 UCF fall graduates, 68 percent of those who found jobs in Florida were still employed a year after graduation.

But, these statistics aren’t the whole picture, Hansen said.

There are plenty of students who get jobs out of state or in other countries who aren’t counted as part of these totals.

Hansen said students who do fall in the employment statistics can improve their chances of being hired by joining campus organizations, volunteering with clubs, conducting undergraduate research, finding internships or getting part-time jobs.

“Those things help build that student into a person … that the working world is looking for,” she added.

For graduating students looking for work, it all comes down to planning.

“It’s never too early to begin the process,” Hansen said. “Finding that great job after graduation isn’t like picking up your cap and gown on the way to the commencement ceremony.”

This article appeared in a July 16, 2015, edition of the Central Florida Future online. It has been slightly edited in accordance with the AP and alumni association style guidelines. See original story. 

Need career assistance?

Let us help!

Journey to Career Success

CareerServices-How_to_Work_a_Room

Career Services: Networking

According to UCF Alumni’s career services coordinator, Leah Goldson, ’04, networking is the No. 1 way to gain employment. It’s a tactic she consistently promotes to alumni, but some are overwhelmed and intimidated by the act of networking.

During the “Journey to Success” workshop she hosted Jan. 6, she shared the “How to Work a Room” handout, above, which walks through how to navigate a networking event step by step. VIEW FULL SIZE IMAGE

With these tips, you can become an expert networker in any room!

Need help with your career?

  • Let Leah help you with your resume, work on your interview skills, and more! Call 407.823.1965 to schedule an appointment.
  • Join us Tuesday, Jan. 13, from 5-7:30 p.m., at the UCF FAIRWINDS Alumni Center, for our “Knight to Knight” career panel, featuring human resources professionals from Florida Hospital, Lockheed Martin, Enterprise Holdings and Siemens Corporation. LEARN MORE
  • Visit our Career Services web page for more job search tools.

Birchbox of Surprise!

Alumna receives job offer on national TV

gma-ucf_grad
UCF alumna Desiree Quinto, ’12, (right) was offered a job with Birchbox on “Good Morning America.” (Photo: Courtesy of Desiree Quinto)
Career Spotlight | Desiree Quinto, ’12

By Adam Rhodes, Central Florida Future

Imagine finally getting that job offer that has seemed so far away for so long. Now imagine getting it on national television.

For Desiree Quinto, a 2012 UCF graduate, that was her reality on Oct. 13, when, after two long years of job hunting, she was offered a job as a discovery specialist for her dream company, Birchbox, on “Good Morning America” during a segment about college graduates struggling to find work.

“I love the transparency there and the culture of the office,” Quinto says of the company. “CEOs are walking around, sitting side by side with their employees and getting to know [them]. There’s so much inspiration and room for growth. Ever since I walked in, I knew it was where I wanted to work.”

While Quinto was sure of her desire to work for Birchbox, she had no idea about the outcome of that “Good Morning America” segment.

“I had no idea,” she explains. “Even [that] morning I had no idea that was happening. I got in there at 5 a.m. and couldn’t be near TVs or have my phone.”

Even before she graduated UCF with an interdisciplinary studies degree, Quinto says she had been applying to places in New York City in hopes of moving there after graduation.

During her time at Valencia College, and then UCF, Quinto immersed herself in volunteer and nonprofit work.

At Valencia, she became a member of the Model United Nations. Then at UCF, she made the dean’s list a handful of times and became a member of the Nonprofit Management Student Association and the Association of Fundraising Professionals. Through those organizations, Quinto was able to become a certified nonprofit professional.

It’s that nonprofit experience that Quinto says made her competitive in the job market.

Even with that competitive edge, Quinto says, she still had trouble landing a job, despite getting relatively far with several interviews. Since graduation in December 2012, Quinto had been in South Florida working at a Mexican restaurant, Baja Cafe Dos.

But that’s all about to change as she makes her journey to her dream city.

As a Birchbox discovery specialist, Quinto will work directly with customers either over the phone or online through social media and email.

“She really showed us that she cared about the customer experience and what it really means to work with a customer and give them a great experience,” says Melissa Enbar, director of recruiting and talent development for Birchbox. “She showed us she was curious and asked a lot of questions. She was interested about the job in the company.”

Aside from Quinto’s curiosity and people skills, Enbar also says she stood out thanks to the research she did about the company.

“She was really knowledgeable about Birchbox,” Enbar says. “She did her research on what we do and how we do it.”

Quinto is able to finally live her dream of living in New York City, moving to Queens in mid-October to start her position as a discovery specialist at her dream company.

This story was published Oct. 15 on centralfloridafuture.com. It was republished with permission from the author.

More Info

Want help finding your dream job?

CHECK OUT:
UCF Alumni Career Services

ATTEND: 
Be sure to register and join us for our “Journey to Career Success” monthly beginner’s workshop on Nov. 4, and learn about resume and cover letter writing, utilizing LinkedIn, KnightLink and networking, bettering your interview skills, and maximizing UCF resources and the UCF alumni community.