Article published by the Gainesville Sun on August 2, 2018
Florida revitalizes campus hub for jobs after graduation
After $10 million and more than a year of renovation, the Career Resources Center at the University of Florida is ready for the flux of this year’s students.
The renovation is more than expanding its spot in the Reitz Union. The office has become the Career Connections Center, a name change leaders say better encompasses its mission.
“We knew we wanted to connect with students in a different way,” said Dana McPherson, the center’s assistant director for marketing and strategic communications.
The word “resources” in the title felt outdated, as if a resource center were a place to find only brochures and be on your way.
The renovations have been in the works for about five years, from fundraising to designing to constructing.
The name change, though, was inspired by the 65 years a career center has been on UF’s campus.
“We started with a director and a secretary in Tigert Hall,” said Ja’Net Glover, senior director for career services. Now, there are more than 30 career services employees.
Because 65 is a common retirement age, Glover said, the center’s 65th anniversary was a turning point, a time to consider a slightly different identity.
Adding “connections” to the name is indicative of the relationships the center creates among students, staff members and employers, she said.
“It is truly a reflection of the work we do in career services,” Glover said, “helping bridge gap between where students are and where they want to be.”
According to career center officials, 57 percent of undergraduates who want a job either are employed or have a job offer by the time they graduate. That would include part-time or full-time work, military enlistment or volunteering.
While the center officially reopened July 2, it will have a ribbon-cutting ceremony Sept. 18.
The renovated center includes engagement rooms for workshops and programs, interview rooms for employers and students to use and nooks along walls and in corners for students to use regardless of whether they need career advice at the time.
“We want our office to be a place that’s really focused on meaning-making for our students in our campus community,” Glover said.
McPherson said textiles and furniture, in greens, oranges and blues, were chosen to complement the Reitz Union, which finished its renovation in 2016. Students, staff and other community members were able to try out some of the furniture and vote for their favorites.
Throughout the center are window clings with squiggle patterns that represent students’ possible career trajectories. Careers and life plans don’t often turn out in a straight path, Glover said.
“We’re not linear,” Glover said.
The Career Connections Center will also have staff members who will spend part of their time in the union and part of their time in specific colleges, doing outreach with students. And even though Glover’s office is in the center, she makes it her goal to engage with students while she makes her way in.
“We’re not going to just be in this new facility; we’re going to be out as well,” Glover said.