New center equips students to enter the workforce

A recent Strada-Gallup survey found that 80% of prospective college students say jobs are a critical factor in where they choose to enroll. Once on campus, however, only 35% have the confidence to obtain a job or enter the workforce.

“We want to change that. We want to make sure that every student feels supported from the day they get to TU,” said Christy Caves (BA ’02, JD ’05), executive director of the new Center for Career Development and Professional Engagement. “As a part of the Student Success Center, there will be a whole team of specialists available in one building supporting each student on their journey.”

Caves played on the softball team while working on her undergraduate degree in psychology. She went on to earn her law degree and practiced in the field for five years.

Christy Caves Batting

In 2010, she started as the associate director in the Professional Development Office in the College of Law at TU. She then took a position as the assistant dean and director of the externship program and was later promoted to the associate dean and director of the Professional Development Office.

“Each position I’ve held at TU has allowed me to work with students on their career path in different capacities,” Caves said. “And now as the new executive director of the Center for Career Development and Professional Engagement, my team and I get to make finding and securing a rewarding career a central part of each TU student’s experience.”

Her team is tasked with supporting students as they explore careers, equipping them with the skills they need to gain experience in internships and experiential learning and giving students the connections they need to secure a fulfilling career.

The center provides other services, including career counseling, resume and cover letter review, mock interviews, mentoring and networking events and programs. The center also works with employers to create as many different opportunities for students as possible during their collegiate career and after graduation.

Christy Caves with Softball Teammates

“We have two clients we serve: our students and employers,” Caves said. “With our main focus on students, the director of student services and four career coaches will help students explore different career paths and assist with securing experiential opportunities.”

These career coaches will be resident experts embedded in each of the colleges on campus so that every student has access to them. “We’ll be working with the deans and faculty to make sure our coaches know the specific needs of each college and how best support them,” Caves said.

Meanwhile, employer services works to post job openings and host on-campus job fairs. “We are adding an employer development function so that the university has someone cultivating new relationships with new employers. This will create more internship and postgraduate job options and more mentoring and networking opportunities,” Caves said.

The Center for Career Development and Professional Engagement will have a marketing and events coordinator who will direct programming, networking events and online resources with a goal to increase all three.

“The online resources are especially important because when do students have time to work on their career development? They need immediate access to resources in the evenings and on weekends,” Caves said.

Christy Caves and Softball Teammates

The center is located on the second floor of Hardesty Hall’s Holmes Student Center and works in tandem with the Student Success Center, which takes a holistic approach to the success of students during their time on campus and after graduation. This encompasses health and financial well-being, academic support, peer and alumni mentors and career and professional development, which is where Caves’ team fits in.

“We’re working with the Student Success Center to empower students to thrive in their chosen fields and help them pivot if their interests change,” Caves said. “The overall goal of the Student Success Center is to provide a proactive and comprehensive approach to each student. Anyone can come to Hardesty Hall and have a support system here no matter what their different needs may be.”

This fall, Caves’ team will begin hiring several new staff members. “We will grow from a team of four to a team of 12. That’s a huge investment the university is making in our students,” Caves said.

“No two students are alike. They don’t come from the same backgrounds. They have different aspirations. They have different goals. In Hardesty Hall, we understand that for a student to be successful, it takes a lot of people working together across departments to meet them where they are in their journey and support and prepare them for their future,” Caves said.

TU prepares students for a successful career with internships, resume building, job/graduate school fairs and even practice interviews. Check out other resources offered, including academic support.