As part of its long-standing collaboration with the USAID (United States Agency for International Development)-STRIDE (Science, Technology, Research and Innovation Development), the UST Counseling and Career Center participated in a mentoring session held recently at the Buenaventura Paredes, O.P. Building. The facilitator, Dr. Jeff Garis, a USAID-STRIDE consultant, is the former Career Center Director of the Florida State University and Pennsylvania State University.  

With the fundamental intent of cultivating the University’s career program, the session highlighted the value and relevance of career centers as instruments for personal growth and community building. In his talk, titled “Roadmap for Creating and Reinventing University Career Centers,” Garis cited personal and professional development and ecosystem connections as two common cornerstones by which universities and career centers must operate to ensure optimal services and results. He discussed that personal and professional development includes the cultivation of individual skills necessary to thrive in one’s career pursuits while ecosystem connection zeroes in on community building as an equally vital part of career success. 

The speaker further explained that fostering connections provides a platform for students to showcase their expertise and be led to other people and organizations that can give them more opportunities to grow as future professionals. This endeavour involves the concerted efforts of university and career center personnel, alumni and industry representatives and done through various activities such as on-campus recruitment, alumni mentoring and career fairs. 

Garis shared several trends in career assessment and emphasized the importance of the balance between the mission for career guidance and employer relations. He also presented some recommendations that can be considered for the improvement of career centers. He recommended the integration of career education into the academic curriculum and the involvement of faculty members in preparing the students before they enter the workforce. Another recommendation was to shift the focus of career services from transactional advising to community building.  

UST Vice Rector for Academic Affairs Prof. Cheryl R. Peralta, DrPH, was present during the lecture. 

The final part of the activity was a consultation session among the UST Career Services team, UST Counseling and Career Center Acting Director Ms. Lynmarie Therese C. Balaan, and Dr. Jeff Garis. In this session, they discussed the extent of centralization or decentralization of activities and services as well as the most effective practices of a hybrid collaborative career center.