By Loni Nannini
The new Career Center at the University of Arizona College of Science is on the job with an action plan to serve as a core resource for students and employers alike.
“We are setting up the Career Center to function as a hub-and-spoke system,” said Michael Luria, assistant dean, corporate and community engagement for the College of Science. “We are the hub for students, employers, faculty, staff and alumni. If you are a company with an internship opportunity, employees that want to be mentors, or if you are looking for talent acquisition, you can use the Career Center as the point of contact for students from four schools and 15 departments within the College of Science.”
Luria is overseeing development of the Career Center, which represents one of four pillars – along with recruitment, retention and curriculum – of the Student Success Initiative being implemented by Carmala Garzione, dean of the College of Science since June 2021.
Slated to open in fall 2023, the center will serve over 7,500 undergrads and nearly 1,000 graduate students affiliated with the College of Science. Comprehensive resources will include assistance with career preparation and action plans; exploration of career and continuing education pathways; facilitation of mentorships and internships; research opportunities that align with undergraduate research programs, and connection with internal and external partners, including industry and alumni.
The driving force behind the project is development of resources in the best interests of students, according to Bridget Wade Radcliff, the center’s founding director.
To realize that vision, the center will partner with alumni, faculty and staff, students, public and private industry, and other employers to create programs that meet student goals and current and future needs.
“These partnerships will allow us to remain at the forefront and ensure that students are prepared not just with the technical skills they need to be successful, but also the transferrable skills they will need,” said Wade Radcliff. “We all know the jobs that most of these students will be working in 10 to 15 years don’t exist because of changes in technology, so we need to give them the best foundational skills we can to allow them to be successful, flexible, resourceful and resilient as they move forward in their careers.”
Collaborations through the Career Center will also serve as important bridges between the community and the university, said Luria.
“Our mission is to make it easier to connect with College of Science students in meaningful ways,” he said. “We have the opportunity through industry and employer connections to share more about what we do and the value we create within the community.”
For employers, the Career Center can help businesses scale internship programs and explore innovative options such as work-study and co-op programs. Additionally, the Career Center will provide outreach to assist employers with creative recruitment.
“Of particular interest to local employers, the Career Center will focus on career opportunities for students who want to stay in Tucson with meaningful jobs,” Wade Radcliff said. “The Center can help companies that don’t necessarily think College of Science students are a source of talent to realize that the skills our students learned throughout their education often align with their needs.”
Building bridges with employers also involves cultivating relationships with alumni, which can result in mentorships, internships, case studies in which students are challenged to solve real industry problems in the classroom, and other opportunities.
Internally, the Career Center will coordinate with faculty to ensure that the transferable skills necessary for success are integrated into curriculums. Plans are also in the works for employers to partner with faculty to incorporate real-time industry advances in academic experiences.
“For all of us to be successful in what we are doing, we need to meet the students where they are,” Wade Radcliff said. “The easiest way to do that is in the classroom and through other activities connected to academics. It is really important to think holistically about what a student is doing and the small tweaks we can make to help create a full-circle experience for students within their academic journeys.”
Meeting students where they are includes expanding equity and access to at-risk and disadvantaged students who may have additional priorities that require their focus.
“We want to reach all students in the College of Science, including those with additional commitments outside the classroom, students fully online, and students that don’t know how to navigate these paths,” Wade Radcliff said. “It is an incredibly intimidating process, especially for students who have different expectations for themselves from family members. Every student is important, and we are here to help.”
Pictured above – Bridget Wade Radcliff pictured with UArizona senior Samantha Mathis, who will graduate in May 2022 with a Bachelor of Science – Computer Science, Bachelor of Arts – French Language; Literature and Cultures emphasis and a Minor in Information, Science, Technology & Arts.