Career Center ready to help Slugs of any age

Alumni can get career advising and more at the campus Career Center. They can also connect with students to provide mentorship at events such as last year's Multicultural Career Conference, pictured above. (Photo by Terry Way)

With the U.S. economy in turmoil and the jobless rate rising, many UC Santa Cruz alumni who have been in the workforce for years or decades may be facing an unforeseen challenge: Unemployment.

Alumni--whether unemployed or just seeking a career change--might not know that the campus Career Center is a resource that's available to them. Alumni must pay a fee for services--$75 per year. But that gives them access to an array of options.

"Alumni taking advantage of the center would have the benefit of choosing the service they'd like to use, and they could get help from an adviser in doing initial or mid-career exploration," said Barbara Silverthorne, acting director.

Summer is a good time for alumni to visit because the center is not as busy with current students then, said Silverthorne.

Students are the biggest users of the Career Center, but alumni made more than 600 contacts with advisers last year, said Silverthorne. And graduates of any UC can use the Career Center at any other UC by paying the standard fee of that campus, something Silverthorne said is a little-known fact.

For Ronna Danziger Perelson, 50, of Mill Valley, visiting the Career Center resulted in a successful career change.

"After three careers, two degrees, and 30 years since high school, it was time to plan my next career," said Perelson ('80, Porter College, economics).

At the center, she took assessment tests, set up a plan to explore many types of careers, and worked on her resume with help from an adviser.

Mara MacDonald, a graduate adviser at the center, "taught me to treat a resume as a strategic document that needs to highlight experience, skills, and abilities that match requirements posed in a job posting, rather than treating it as an information dump," Perelson said. "I learned to describe my experience more sharply and in the terms relevant to and needed by the hiring entity."

She got a temporary job in catalog merchandising, then was promoted to a data management position. She then became a direct to consumer index manager with Restoration Hardware.

"Being a numbers person, I finally found my inner nerd and get to play with data all day," said Perelson, who previously worked in sales.

Vidya Kumar, 34, who got a job at Santur Corp., a Fremont manufacturer of optical components for optical networks, only regrets that he didn't visit the Career Center earlier.

Graduate adviser MacDonald "advised me how to research companies and how to come across as competent and competitive in the market," said Kumar, who earned a Ph.D. in physics at UCSC. "Looking for work is hard, and it's really important to get counseling and help in this phase of one's career."

He did a mock interview and presentation, as well as a behavioral interview.

"It was all incredibly useful," he said.

The Career Center offers individual advising, workshops, career fairs, resource materials, special events, job listings, and more. It also develops employment opportunities and fosters partnerships with the on- and off-campus community.