Peer Career Assistant program at Career Services helps to guide fellow students

January 29, 2021

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — As Penn State students have adapted to navigate a digital job market, so, too, have those students who have trained to support their peers in achieving their career goals. 

The 11 students who represent the Peer Career Assistant program at Career Services have continued to adapt to meet their fellow students needs. Started in 2013, the Peer Career Assistant program connects highly trained students with others to provide resume and cover letter editing and development, resource assistance, interview preparation, and mock interviews.        

As the pandemic shifted the job market, the peers were forced to adapt and educate themselves on how to better help their classmates. The peers have been coaching students throughout the semester to stay positive, leverage technology, and be open to exploring different industries is key to success.

Some peers, such as Faith Rule, a junior majoring in labor and human resources, started the position during the pandemic, and therefore only knows the peer role from a virtual standpoint. 

“This is my first year being a Peer Career Assistant,” she said, “we are all just on the same boat of navigating this new normal together."

Staying positive, active and flexible has been crucial for students finding career success. While some industries were affected by the pandemic, there are countless other industries that are growing fast due to the pandemic. 

Sarah Rubino, a Peer Career Assistant since 2019, has seen plenty of talent on campus. As a senior in industrial engineering, with a minor in leadership development, she knows that employers recruit at Penn State for that reason.

“Talk about yourself and your flexibility to this crazy new period that we are all going through; the employers know it's a tough time, but show them how you've adapted and made this issue become an asset,” she said. "Students who come to Penn State are really impressive and our job is to make sure that they showcase that to employers."

With more than 2,400 jobs posted during the fall semester, the recruiting landscape at Penn State remains strong. Career offices across the University have continued to host virtual career fairs and events while reporting strong employer participation.

“Right now, especially with COVID, everyone is turning to virtual means of networking and LinkedIn is an ever-growing part of that. I think students often don’t know where to start so that’s a great place,” said Isabella Renney, a senior studying international politics and French linguistics. She often has students asking for advice on how to set up a LinkedIn page and recommends that students add their LinkedIn URL to their resume.

Matthew Cavadas, a senior studying supply chain, suggests students put even more emphasis on networking. 

“Utilize LinkedIn, Lionlink, and the Brazen career fairs to get your resume out there and build your network,” he says. 

Emily Deivert, a senior studying security and risk analysis, often coaches students on the importance of testing their technology before interacting with a potential employer.

“The most important piece of advice I like to share with students is to make sure that they have dependable technology with a functioning camera and microphone," said Deivert.

Renney and her fellow peers have been hopeful that the increased use in technology will continue to provide more opportunity for students. 

“In a lot of ways I think our virtual platforms have made it more accessible for students to access our services," she said.

Cassie Rosas-Carson, a career counselor with Career Services, has been leading the peer program for over three years and has seen the students on her team this year rise to the challenge of remotely providing quality services to Penn State students.

“As I looked to this fall semester, I saw this as an opportunity for creativity and professional growth. We have been able to create new services and utilize different software like Microsoft Teams," she said. “I'm proud of what we have been able to accomplish."

Students can schedule a 15-minute check-in with a Peer Career Assistant using Nittany Lion Careers to get help with key career-related services. Career Services, a division of Student Affairs, continues to provide students with virtual career counseling sessions and appointments alongside the Peer Career Assistants.

Students can learn more about connecting with a peer at https://studentaffairs.psu.edu/career/counseling.

Last Updated February 04, 2021