Career Moves: Relationship with Career Services helps secure job in Hawaii
As a student with more interests than she could count, Elon University senior Meredith Naughton found that simply having someone to consult about the future made her job hunt easier. She’s now headed to Hawaii to begin work with struggling teens – and she gives much of the credit to Career Services.
Naughton is the latest person to be featured this year in a series of E-net profiles on the recent experiences of students and alumni who use the Career Center to not only find job and internship openings, but to prepare for interviews and improve applications with guidance from Career Services staff.
At the end of February, the psychology major from Westchester, N.Y., packed her bags for the Aloha State, where she's joined the staff of Pacific Quest. The program for troubled adolescents and young adults uses organic farming to help clients develop self-esteem, leadership skills, and teamwork and problem-solving techniques.
The in-patient therapeutic facility welcomes teens from around the globe whose temporary emotional or developmental challenges require extra attention that schools or parents aren’t necessarily able to offer. In her role with Pacific Quest, Naughton will act as a “field instructor,” mentoring the clients whose stays range anywhere from four weeks to four months.
“We’re side by side with students all the time to make sure they’re safe, to make sure they’re on task, to make sure the group dynamics are good,” Naughton said. “Our job is to be a positive role model to show that things are possible in their lives.”
The job couldn’t be a better fit for a student with interests in psychology and environmental sustainability. Naughton credits Rhonda Kosusko in Career Services for helping to focus her job hunt on careers that involve her academic training.
The relationship Naughton forged with Kosusko, the associate director of Career Services, paid dividends not because of a job that she “found” for the Elon senior, but because of the guidance in helping her narrow her interests to find a position that would help her pursue a graduate degree in psychology.
As she entered her senior year, Naughton found herself unsure of what career path to pursue. Psychology? Sustainability? Event planning? As a previous member of the “Green Team,” Naughton had played a key role in organizing past campus Earth Week events, where she discovered a passion for handling logistics of large events.
Ultimately, it was a love of psychology that Kosusko and Naughton identified as the career most likely to offer professional and personal fulfillment. They met in September to walk through the myriad options for life after Elon. When the Pacific Quest job opening appeared two months later, it was easy for Kosusko to assist Naughton with her resume and cover letter.
What also helped was that Kosusko had gotten to know Naughton through earlier interactions. The duo had previously worked together to land Naughton an internship two years ago working with at-risk youth in New York City.
“A lot of times students don’t recognize the fact that to be successful it takes a lot of advanced planning,” Kosusko said. “We recommend students start interacting with us, and getting involved in campus activities, and looking at internships early on. That’s going to make them stronger candidates for opportunities once they graduate.”
“When they meet with us early, we can help them develop a plan to gain more experience, strengthen their resume, strengthen their self-marketing skills and abilities to interview more effectively.”
Naughton offered advice for current students who may be starting to plan for summer internships or, if they’re seniors, for a first job following Commencement. “Stay in touch! A lot of students will look for a job, find one, and then never write back,” Naughton said. “If you use Career Services to get an internship or a placement for the summer, go back. Let them know if you were successful or had a good time.”
Students and alumni looking for more information on internship and career opportunities, plus services that university staff can provide for a job hunt, visit Elon Career Services in on the first floor of the Duke Building or by exploring the office’s website at www.elon.edu/careers.