Student Employment and Career Services Director Debra Vaughn’s mission is to help set OCCC students apart from the other job market competition. She said she wants OCCC students to be the stronger job candidates for any position available.
Vaughn said she has a variety of ways for students to hone their résumé writing and interviewing skills by using an interactive computer program in her area.
The job-seeking journey starts with a résumé — a student’s strongest ally in an interview, she said, and important throughout a career.
As paper résumés become a thing of the past, Vaughn said, she is pointing students in a new direction — the Optimal Resume website at https://occc.optimalresume.com.
Vaughn said the primary focus of the website is to assist students with the digitalization process of résumés and the application process. With résumés, she said, there is no one-size-fits-all formula. She said students can use a variety of templates at the site for a more career-focused résumé.
Students also can use the plethora of information and tools at the website to assist them with building a professional, clean online appearance they can integrate into other social media platforms, Vaughn said.
She said the computer program in her office contains videos showing common interview questions and how to create the best responses. With a laugh, Vaughn admitted to bombing interviews herself.
Also, she said, an up-to-date news feed keeps students aware of new job opportunities, events and seminars.
It’s crucial for students to do their homework on future employers, Vaughn said. Not only is it important to prepare for the interview, she said but also know how to follow up after the interview.
When it comes to cover letters, résumés and post-interview thank-you letters, students can get confused, Vaughn said.
Information Technology major Levi Schultz has worked in the Student Employment and Career Services for two years and shares Vaughn’s enthusiasm for assisting students.
Schultz said students sometimes face a Catch-22 situation in the job market — they need experience to work but have to work in order to gain the experience.
In situations like these, Schultz suggests new job hunters first look for work on campus. He said this helps students understand what they’re getting into and have a job that will be flexible with their school schedule.
Schulz has patience and a passion for helping his peers.
“It’s like a puzzle piece,” he said. “We don’t want them working for a job they’ll hate but a job that will work for them.”
Vaughn said she is currently preparing for the October job fair on campus.
She said she is almost done creating the banners to be hung outside on SW 74 and May Avenue that will promote it.
“Once the banners are posted, the phones start ringing,” she said.
Aside from preparing for the upcoming fair, Vaughn’s office is always readily available for students needing assistance. When students come to visit, they receive one-on-one guidance with the staff, she said, because many lack the confidence it takes to land their first job.
“Most students are unsure,” Vaughn said, “But once they start to see what they can do, they gain confidence. It’s a great morale booster.”
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