Center for Career and Professional Development prepares Cardinals to leave nest

Nicole Kyles-Burton has a knack for networking and a passion for helping LU students become career-ready. In this Q&A, she discusses the LU Center for Career and Professional Development and how it prepares Cardinals to leave the nest.

Q: What is the mission of the Center for Career and Professional Development?
A: The Center for Career and Professional Development promotes student growth by developing skills and providing opportunities to inspire confidence. Through a holistic approach, we assist all students and alumni with the transition toward professional and educational goals, creating a favorable advantage in their future endeavors. In addition, the center adheres to the promotion of professionalism and quality in the administration of testing services and programs.

Q: Who does the center cater to?
A: We are a free service for all students and alumni. We love to start seeing our students as freshmen and we love to follow them through their entire academic career. We also love to see them as alumni. I had several emails just this week from students who are already placed in jobs and ready to move on to the next job. That’s why we always had our office. We’re forever learners because we’re always learning — through our conferences, through workshops, but we’re also learning through our students as well because they’re still working in the field, and we get to keep that relationship beyond graduation. We love that about working in our department. For most people in higher education, success comes with the student graduating. But for us, the success is the student obtaining an internship and then landing that job. So, for us, that’s what’s important — that whole transition from college student for career professional. That’s success for us in our department.

Q: What are the services provided?
A: We provide the following:
• Resume and cover letter assistance
• LinkedIn profile reviews
• Professional headshots
• Mock interview practice face-to-face as well as via Interview Stream
• Career exploration via Focus 2 Career Assessment! Explore majors, get assistance with academic major selection or course selections and explore occupations
• Career readiness workshops and events
• Crafting their elevator pitch
• If you're unsure if graduate school is right for you, we're here to help with career advising and exploration
• Handshake is a free online job database that has all Fortune 500 companies available to students. Handshake is a powerful versatile platform that allows students to connect to employers, job and internship opportunities, career resources, career event information and more!
Q: Why are these services beneficial?
A: The Center for Career and professional Development is the most underutilized resource on-campus and one of the most important. Life beyond graduation is core to our mission, yet we want to start seeing students as freshmen, so they have capacity-building experience in place to facilitate a smooth transition from college student to career professional. The services are not only beneficial, but also necessary so that our students can develop a lifelong, competitive skillset for an ever-changing global market. It will guarantee that they will be prepared for what comes next in their career but with the self-confidence that is needed for them to become successful. After meeting with my students, I get to know them very well and I always tell them I can sell you better than you can sell yourself. My job is to instill the confidence they need so they can sell themselves. Confidence in who they are, what they have done, what they are doing and what they will do so that employers will be willing to invest in them.

Q: What does the process look like?
A: We really are trying to promote the use of Handshake, so, we encourage students to activate their accounts using their Lamar University email and schedule their appointments via Handshake! We will see students in-person, virtually and by telephone. We are in the Galloway College of Business Building Suite 102. The most common way to engage with our department is through one-on-one appointments with our staff. There are numerous appointment types, allowing you to the best assistance wherever you are in your career development journey. If you’re not sure where to begin or want to talk about several topics, just choose the one that aligns the best and we’ll still be able to help you out! The appointments are blocked by time depending on the service that is requested. Types of appointments include career advising, resume critique, cover letter review, LinkedIn Profile review, career fair prep and mock interview assistance, just to name a few.

The career planning process involves learning about who you are, what you want and how to get there. We assist with this with career exploration, developing career plans, job search strategies, interview preparation and utilizing the features of LinkedIn. Additionally, we assist with the decision to attend graduate school and preparation for graduate school. My first meeting with my students, I want to get to know them very well. Once we talk, I always tell them I can sell you better than you can sell yourself. My job is to instill the confidence they need so they can sell themselves. Confidence in who they are, what they have done, what they are doing and what they will do so that employers will be willing to invest in them.

Q: What does success look like with a student or alumnus?
A: For me, in my position as a career consultant, success and confirmation that you are doing the right thing does not come from a graduation ceremony; in my career it comes from a student solidifying an internship and then a job. I have a student athlete who just solidified an IT internship with Emerson, a Fortune 500 company. This is huge because student-athletes commonly struggle with unique issues regarding career development and expanding their athletic identities to include a full range of possibilities due to their demanding schedules. 

Q: What would you say to students who need help in a certain area but are hesitant to utilize the Center for Career and Professional Development?
A: I answer three questions for them: 1. Expectancy — yes, you can do the task because we are here to assist you every step of the way. 2. Value — it is not an option if you want to do the task. You must because our services will add value to your identity as you transition from a student to career professional and 3. Cost — our services are free, all you have to invest is a little time, why gamble with your degree when my track record with students speaks for itself?

Additionally, I would let them know that a college degree isn’t the only thing getting recent graduates hired today and that the Center for Career and Professional Development acts as a gateway to high value networking opportunities. Professional experience such as internships, job shadowing, leadership, joining organizations and volunteering are essential to full-time employment following graduation. I would share the success metrics for each of our tools and services. And the best of all is to showcase the face to the success of career services. Share the stories of students who received interview guidance and landed their dream internships. Highlight alumni networking opportunities and those who have found success through connections, employers and students alike.

For more information about the Center for Career and Professional Development, email or call 409-880-8878.