Career Partnership Initiatives Increase Alumni Success

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(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.

From Unemployment to Celebrity Weddings and Professional Sports

UCF Rosen College alumna Jennifer Garcia, '09, recently returned to her alma mater to offer career advice to students.
Rosen College alumna Jennifer Garcia, ’09, returned to her alma mater to offer career advice to students.

By Michael Weiss

Internships with the Vans Warped Tour, the Starbucks VIA Taste Tour, and Super Bowl XVIII appeared to place former event management and hospitality management double major Jennifer Garcia’s, ’09, career trajectory on a crash course with success after college. However, after Garcia initially graduated from the University of Central Florida’s Rosen College of Hospitality Management, the alumna couldn’t even find employment as a hostess due to the economic recession in the United States.

Fast forward nearly four years later, when Garcia returned to her alma mater to inspire current hospitality students with her story of resiliency, as she went from unemployed college grad to assisting with multi-million dollar celebrity weddings and now a new career in professional sports.

“After I graduated, I wanted to work in the event industry,” Garcia said. “I was applying everywhere, but, at the time, everyone was cutting back and I literally couldn’t even get hired as a hostess. It was extremely discouraging, considering that I just graduated from a prestigious hospitality college and had such great internship experience. But, I refused to give up on my career. When you give up, you’re giving your opportunity away to someone else.”

Garcia’s relentless pursuit of employment eventually paid off after months of job hunting, when in January 2010, she was hired by a Miami-based event designer.

“I ended up getting hired by Nuage Designs, where I began working in luxury weddings,” Garcia recalled. “I didn’t realize the experience that I would be gaining from this job until one day, my boss put me on a plane to New York, where I found myself delivering table linens for Chelsea Clinton’s wedding.”

Over the course of her three and a half years of employment with Nuage Designs, Garcia opened an office in New York, created partnerships for destination weddings, and assisted with several celebrity nuptials, including Grammy Award-winner Carrie Underwood and reality TV star Kim Zolciak, whose wedding appeared on Bravo’s “The Real Housewives of Atlanta.”

“I learned a lot from this job opportunity, but I knew I needed to leave the wedding industry to chase my dream job,” Garcia said. “My goal is to one day become the events director for the NFL.”

Garcia again faced adversity in finding employment, as many professional sports recruiters refused to hire her, as she had no previous professional experience within the industry.

“It was extremely frustrating,” Garcia said. “How was I supposed to start gaining industry experience when no one was willing to hire a person without previous experience?”

But, again, Garcia refused to give up on her goal, as the alumna continued to submit her resume and attend networking functions.

Her resiliency paid off again, as the alumna ultimately received job offers from at least two professional sports teams, and recently accepted a position with the NHL’s Florida Panthers, as a group sales manager.

“I came back to Rosen to speak with students about facing adversity,” Garcia said. “I know that some of these students will face the same employment challenges that I did and I wanted to tell them what happens when you don’t give up.”

See original story on UCF Today.

Journey to Career Success

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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.