U.Va. Career Center reflects on 40 years

Staff of five in 1968 grows to over 30 full-time employees today

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The University Career Center in Bryant Hall, now a highly-utilized multimedia resource for students at the University, had a modest start in 1968 as a small team operating out of an office in Minor Hall.

Then called the Office of Career Planning and Placement, the group of no more than five started by getting the word out that career placement services were available, emphasizing job placement for fourth-year students.

Angie Wooten, who began in a customer service role in the office, joined the team in 1986 and has been working for the organization ever since.

The office moved to the basement of Garrett Hall — now the Frank Batten School for Leadership and Public Policy — in the late 1980s.

“Garrett Hall allowed it to grow in staff, expand in relations, [and had] 13 small but convenient interviewing rooms in the space,” Wooten said.

The 1980s saw ups and downs in the economy, and often, not all interview rooms were filled. However, approaching the new millennium, the office saw an improving economy, and sought to work with more than just fourth-year students, expanding its initiatives into the advising realm.

“We were starting to learn that students needed to prepare earlier,” Wooten said. “There was a growing employee emphasis on externships and internships. We were bursting out of the scenes in Garrett Hall, and had to use interviewing spaces in Newcomb Hall as well.”

The move to Bryant Hall in Scott Stadium occurred in the early 2000s, along with a name change to University Career Services. The office needed more room to implement its growing initiatives due to upward trends in employment, its strong externship program and success in working with students earlier on in their academic careers.

“Part of the change was due to upper trends,” Wooten said. “There was an expansion of initiative into career counseling, job searches, internship and externship help, offering more services rather than just strict placements, and empowering students to write resumes and succeed in interviews, now and in the future.”

Eventually, a University Career Services Council was formed with the aim of developing a more holistic approach to career advising.

“We obtained affiliate offices in Commerce, Engineering, Curry, Batten, and so on,” Wooten said. “We wanted to look at the best approach for the future. Employer relationships were important, internships were important, and what students wanted was to be identified a little more in terms of their interests.”

UCS changed its name to the U.Va. Career Center in June 2015. At the same time, began fully implementing new initiatives with a staff of 35 full time employees.

“We knew students wanted more specialized help targeted toward their career interests,” Wooten said. “This led to the development of six different career communities: business, government and law, education, engineering, technology and science, public service, and, finally, creative arts, media and design.”

Career counselors today are generalists, providing advising services to help with the exploration and identification of individual students’ interests and skills, as well as job searching techniques. Specialists are involved with individual career communities to help connect them to University alumni, employers and in understanding their fields of interest.

Another recent initiative is the Internship Center.

“We are really promoting internships, the value of learning and exploring opportunities and career fields, as well as trying to initiate the momentum to start the job search,” Wooten said. “Employers like to hire the great interns they work with at U.Va. We work very hard not only to get full time job listings but also internship opportunities.”

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