Center for Career Exploration and Success grows, focusing on first-year students, diversity

Did you know?

  • The Center for Career Exploration & Success recently adopted Handshake, an online recruiting and advising system. There are nearly 200,000 employers on Handshake, with 5,000 jobs and internships available.
  • Multiple sources helped fund students for the Atlanta trip, including: the Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation, the Miami Family Fund, the Student Success Center and the Western Program. The Center for Career Exploration and Success contributed grant money.
by Shavon Anderson, university news and communications

“Early and often.” That’s the saying in Miami’s Center for Career Exploration and Success.

There’s a misconception that the center only focuses on soon-to-be graduates. Instead, there’s a shift to also attract first-year students. The center revamped its programming, incorporating new online job tools and establishing career clusters, a program with the idea that a major doesn’t always dictate an occupation.

A recent successful event in the Presidential Series on Career and Leadership was the Elevate: Diversity and Inclusion Institute March 5. Thirty-two industry professionals and Miami Graduate School representatives led panels to broaden participants’ cultural awareness, competency, and career knowledge in preparation for career success. Nearly 100 students participated, learning best practices in inclusion and diversity, entrepreneurship, micro-aggressions and more, in the workplace. 

The institute was part of a professional development series meant to expose students to relevant workplace topics developed by Miami President Greg Crawford and the Center for Career Exploration & Success. 

The center also rebranded its winter term program, now called Career Trek, adding cities to its lineup and increasing funds for students in need. In January, the new format led dozens of students to Chicago, Atlanta and Detroit (up from two cities in 2018) to network with alumni at major corporations.

Everett Bueter, an undecided first-year student who went to Detroit, needed a connection to his potential career. He wants to either work in finance or own a franchise.

“The trip helped me better understand what the corporate work environment was like,” he said. “It also gave me an idea of internships I want to pursue and how to reach out when searching for opportunities.” 

Matthew Yepez, associate director of employer relations, said the trek targets students like Bueter.

“It’s sparking them to ask new questions about themselves that they’ve never thought about,” he said.

Students from the Atlanta trek during a visit at the Atlanta mayor's office. (photo via Career Exploration and Success).

In Atlanta, Shayna Smith, assistant director for diversity initiatives, led 18 students on what she called an “eye-opening” trip.

“A lot of the students had never been outside of Ohio, let alone thought about the opportunity to work outside of the state,” she said.

Smith knows that financial barriers can limit students’ involvement. Through campus grants and minority programs, 16 of her students got full funding for the trip.

It’s part of the center’s goal to increase diversity and inclusion, and students who see Miami’s inclusive push on campus have more confidence to question companies about the same topic.

“We tell students that just because someone has diversity doesn’t mean they have inclusion,” Smith said. “They can have the numbers, but how are you going to exist within that company?”

Students in each city learned to identify what type of company they want to work for and determine how their own values align with corporate goals.

“Joining a company without ever seeing the space you’re going to work in and the people you are going to work with is a big risk,” said junior Reid Nelson.

The Michigan native built solid connections in Detroit as he looks for a job in human resources management.

“I’ve had several interviews since the trip,” Nelson said.

Career Trek came full circle for Erika Lee (Miami ’17), who turned her networking skills into a job. A year after participating in the 2017 Chicago trip, she started working at the city’s Google office.

Detroit trek students talk with corporate leaders (photo via Career Exploration and Success).

Corey Watt, associate director of employer relations and the Chicago lead, oversaw Lee’s trip in 2017. He credits the recent graduate with helping this year’s group get access inside Google Chicago for the first time and points to her journey as the core of the program.

“Students who’ve gone through the trip are now graduating with top-tier jobs, or they’re already in the workplace,” he said. “It’s an example for others who are now taking what they learned and putting those theories into practice.”

Employer feedback is vital to the center's overall development. Aside from Career Trek, students can participate in job shadow opportunities, resume and interview tools and Alumni Connect (a mentoring and advising platform) among other things.

Information about the Center for Career Exploration & Success can be found on the center's website (