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CEO welcomes director Dwayne Peterson and additional changes this semester

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Having undergone numerous changes in the past couple of years, the Center for Career Engagement and Opportunity (CEO) has finally found its new director: Dwayne Peterson. Though Peterson is new to the team, joining just July of this year, he is in no way new to the work he does. A nationally recognized educator with a liberal arts undergraduate background, Peterson advocates for liberal arts education and specializes in teaching students how to communicate and translate their experiences to achieve their professional goals. 

From left to right: Lisandra Jimenez, Dwayne Peterson, Madeline Heath and Naomi Copeland look forward to a semester of new initiatives for the CEO.
Photo courtesy of the New College Office of Communications and Marketing.

Returning students may remember Mark Stier acting as the interim Director of the CEO during the 2018-2019 academic year. He and the three new hires from last year, including Lisandra Jimenez, assistant director for career readiness and employability and Madeline Heath, assistant director for career technology and outreach, set goals to increase peer interaction, connection, and mentorship. 

“We really want to bring a bigger vision to the CEO, we would hope that our director would bring some stability long-term, versus continuing to change staff,” Jimenez said in a Catalyst article from Nov. 2018 regarding the search for a new director. “[We hope] to be able to have a steady academic calendar, things we do every year, that sort of thing.” 

Dwayne Peterson wants to make sure the CEO’s mission is clear and welcoming to New College students. 

 “We are improving the accessibility of career coaching and advising through our team of Student Career Assistants (SCAs), who are now offering daily walk-in hours for document reviews (resumes, CVs, cover letters) and general CEO information,” Peterson said. The CEO has expanded the number of appointment reasons for which students can schedule with the professional staff team, which includes Peterson and the Assistant Directors, Maddie Heath and Lisandra Jimenez. Students can now schedule appointments online through Handshake or by calling, emailing, or stopping by the CEO office. 

In terms of engagement and ensuring students prioritize career planning as they do their academics, the CEO has set two goals to increase career engagement and are partnering with faculty and other campus offices to implement them. 

The CEO has begun a 100% First Year Initiative and a 4th Year Check-In Campaign for fourth year students. The 100% First Year Initiative includes taking a career assessment, Focus 2, to explore interests, values and possible AOCs and career paths, as well as a 30-minute individual meeting with a CEO professional staff member. This initiative has been included as part of the new First Year Seminars. 

For the CEO’s fourth-year campaign, they have implemented a new 20-minute appointment called the 4th Year Check-In, which allows graduating students to quickly “check-in” with the CEO about their transition plans for immediately following graduation and to receive personalized support and resources throughout their processes. 

The CEO is also continuing to expand by searching for an additional assistant director. 

 “The College wants to make sure that students have personalized career support, just as they do when receiving academic advising, course instruction, and the other unique aspects of the NCF experience,” Peterson said. “So, we were allowed to add a new Assistant Director position to our team that, like the other CEO Assistant Directors, serves as a career coach for students and leads professional development-related programs, events, and initiatives.”

 He believes that the ratio of the professional career coaching staff  to the number of students NCF has is exceptional and believes it will set NCF up to be a national leader. This small ratio allows the CEO to provide very individualized and personal support that bigger universities simply cannot provide. 

Peterson confirms that the CEO has conducted a successful search for the new assistant director and plans on making an announcement to the campus as soon as possible. The CEO will also be launching a search for a specialized Assistant Director for Prestigious Fellowships, which is currently being temporarily filled by Associate Director of Residential Education Nicole Gelfert, who will provide specific individual advising for the competitive national and international fellowships programs, such as the Fulbright. By being fulling integrated within the CEO, their vision is for fellowships to be a consideration for all NCF students as part of their overall career planning. 

Many students have expressed their skepticism for the online career management system called Handshake, but Peterson has high hopes that the tool can be vital to students’ success. 

“Handshake is our online campus career management system.” Peterson said.“Any opportunities, internships, jobs, fellowships, and/or graduate schools, as well as career-related events and fairs, that come through the CEO are put inside of Handshake.”

 When an employer wants to recruit students from our campus, the CEO will promote those opportunities through Handshake. Students can also engage with a larger student community beyond New College, schedule appointments, and apply for opportunities through the system. Many opportunities promoted through Handshake cannot be found anywhere else and many are specifically for NCF students. 

“Handshake is an incredible tool and will play a vital role in increasing the number of opportunities available to our students,” Peterson said. “Using Handshake makes it easy for employers from all industries and geographic locations to recruit our students.” Peterson hopes that all students make profiles and fully explore Handshake’s capabilities. They have created a Handshake tile in the myNCF portal for convenient access to the system.  

When asked about what upcoming changes are happening to the CEO that students should get excited for, Peterson exemplifies the “new energy inside of the CEO and largely across the College about professional development and career planning.” He also adds that “[the CEO] has a number of really cool new events coming up that I think are unique and fit well with our students.” For example, the CEO just did a 4th Year Kick-Off, sponsored by employers, graduate schools, and campus offices to help students jump-start their fourth year and connect with the support and resources they need for a successful fourth year and beyond.

“I’m really impressed by New College students and I’m really excited to be a part of this community, I can’t wait to work with all of you.” Peterson said. “I moved my family to live here and be a part of this community and part of that has to do with the caliber of students we have here. I’m committed to New College students and I think students need to hear that because we’ve had so much turnover in the CEO. They need to hear that someone is here and committed.”

More information about the CEO and its upcoming events can be found on www.ncf.edu/ceo, in Handshake, NovoConnect, or in the CEO office in Lib 154. 

Information from this article was gathered from ncf.edu

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