Ambassadors Open Doors to Career Opportunities for Fellow Students
By Jennifer Spencer
The Fordham Career Ambassadors hosted a First Impressions Carnival to introduce students to the resources of the Career Services Office.
The student-led, student-run Fordham Career Ambassador (FCA) program operates on a simple principle: students are far more likely to listen to their peers than to parents or administrators.
"We students can be pretty stubborn. If a parent or a career services director told you it's really important to have a good GPA, you might not listen, but when one of your peers says employers care about that a great deal, it resonates," said Kevin Fallon, GSB '11, who founded the FCA program during his senior year.
The FCA program is a select, volunteer organization that exists to build on career development opportunities for students at Fordham University. FCAs initiate their events and also help get the word out about services of Fordham's professional Career Services office.
Bernie Stratford, director of experiential education, said that Fallon approached him and Career Services Director Stefany Fattor about a student advocacy program when the office was launching its Fordham Futures career awareness program.
"To start an eight-semester program, you have to be ready to move," Stratford said. "Kevin helped give us a quick route to the students, as we needed to engage them quickly."
Fallon said that when Fattor was hired during his senior year, he was enthused about the many new opportunities he saw in Career Services, but noticed that many of his fellow students were not aware of the office's new initiatives. He thought he could help.
"I kind of fell in love with the idea of having Fordham students serve as the bridge between the office and students and employers," Fallon said. "We tried think of different ways we might be able to use Fordham students to make Career Services more central for them."
Lincoln Center FCAs welcome students to the Cupcakes and Careers Event, a meet and greet event designed to expose students to the Career Services Office.
Today's Fordham Career Ambassadors program is a student-run initiative supported by an administrator in the Career Services office.
Current president Alex Reynolds, a junior at Fordham College at Rose Hil, said his team has worked to add structure to the FCA program, establishing committees focused on campus marketing, alumni relations, employer outreach, and programming and events.
Erin McLaughlin, assistant director for experiential education, and facilitator of the FCA program, said that the FCAs encourage students to take advantage of the Career Services office "early and often."
While her office provides support to the FCAs, they have the freedom to plan their own events and outreach to best help their fellow students with career development objectives.
McLaughlin said a recent FCA event turned the Career Services office into a "carnival," with games and a LinkedIn photo booth, inviting students to explore the office's services in a low-stress environment.
"The students have a lot of leeway to make that program their own and to make it fun, and they targeted a freshman and sophomore demographic—people who may have not thought about our office before," she said.
As they help educate their fellow students, FCAs also have unique exposure to prospective employers and Career Services personnel, as well as behind-the-scenes access to the career fairs they help support.
Reynolds said he is also building a professional development program specifically for FCAs, including seminars and panels on how to excel in the job market.
For Reynolds, simply being around the Career Services office has helped him be exposed to a variety of opportunities and have more perspective about his career options.
"I see a lot of people who constantly say to themselves, 'I don't know what I want to do,'" Reynolds said. "As an FCA, you get immersed in a world of opportunities. You have to experience things to see if that's what you really want."
Fallon, who is now an associate in KPMG's transactions and restructuring practice, said the exposure to the world of work he gained through the FCA program was invaluable.
"You come to know the employers and recruiters. Having a recruiter know your name is a great relationship to have," he said.
Applications for the 2013-2014 Fordham Career Ambassador Program are available on CareerLink by searching "Fordham Career Ambassadors."