In order to protect ourselves from COVID-19, much of our lives and work have been pushed into virtual settings. Austin Community College’s spring 2021 commencement was no different and was also forced to be held virtually.
ACCENT wanted to check-in with students graduating during this unusual time, so we reached out to a pair of recent ACC graduates, Emily Pesina and Ashley Silva. ACCENT editor-in-chief, Pete Ramirez, spoke to both graduates to understand what their graduation experience was like and what they had planned for the near future.
ACCENT multimedia reporter, Pete Ramirez, interviews Trish Welch, Career Services Director at ACC, Pam Fant-Saez, Digital Skills for Today’s Jobs Director at ACC, and Gloria Walls, an ACC student who just started an I.T. apprenticeship with the help of Career Services.
By: Pete Ramirez
As the 2021 spring semester comes to a close, Austin Community College is doing all it can to give its graduates the skills to snag the jobs they want. This often overlooked work is driven by the Career Services Department, who offer free tools and career coaching to any current or former student in need of help navigating the current job market.
“Job postings have increased,” said Trish Welch, Career Resources Director at ACC. “The number of employers who are interested in hiring ACC students has dramatically increased.”
Welch believes the challenges students are currently facing revolve around preparing for employment.Through career coaching and innovative technology, Career Services may be able to help relieve some of the stress that comes along with looking for a job, while improving the chances of an applicant landing an interview.
In the current hiring market, artificial intelligence is heavily relied upon by companies to filter through the thousands of applications they receive. These technologies are programmed to search for keywords within resumes to find solid candidates for the position. Career services’ solution to this problem is Jobscan.
Jobscan is a way for students to optimize their resumes by comparing their resume against a specific job posting. The platform then awards a score to the resume which indicates if the applicant is a good match for the position.
“We don’t consider that resume complete until it has a score of 85%,” said Skills for Today’s Jobs Director, Pam Fant-Saez. “[With that score], we know that the chances of it getting through to see human eyes escalates way up.”
Fant-Saez said that the platform can do the same with a student’s LinkedIn account to optimize their profile so that it doesn’t slip through the cracks either.
Career Services also offers assistance in preparing for interviews by utilizing another piece of technology: Big Interview. Big Interview allows a student to practice being interviewed by an avatar to alleviate some of the potential pressure of being put in the hot seat by another person.
With each recorded session, the student can continue practicing until they’re comfortable with what is being asked. The questions the avatar asks can also be changed depending on which industry the student is attempting to enter.
“Students don’t realize how amazingly powerful this is,” Fant-Saez said. “And then they get hired in 10 days as opposed to eight months.”
Students interested in improving their job seeking skills can access these tools by applying to the free, monthly classes Career Services offers, Strategies for Today’s Jobs.
One student who completed these classes and credits them for her success is Gloria Walls. Walls recently started an Information Technologies (IT) apprenticeship at Saber Data, a local tech company in Austin.
These classes taught Walls the t-chart strategy, one used for writing a cover letter. To use the strategy, place the job description in a column on the left and on the right column describe how your qualifications match what the employer is looking for.
Walls said, “I think it also helps to prepare you for your interview because it helps you think about what skills you have.”
Fant-Saez is also a fan of cover letters and encourages students who have something compelling to say to take the time to write a cover letter. She feels it can allow an application to shine brighter among the rest.
“When you don’t have a lot of experience, it might be good to express immense enthusiasm,” Fant-Saez said.
Walls said that any ACC student who is looking for a job should take advantage of this free career training course.
“I think it helps you organize your materials, think about what your skills are and helps you to really get that thing that is going to make you stand out from other candidates,” Walls said.
ACC staff and community members provide different perspectives on volunteering in isolated times.
By: Renata Salazar
As a college student, volunteering is essential when seeking to become involved in your community and craft better relationships. With hundreds of volunteering options and resources, it can be overwhelming to take initiative and find the best option for you. ACCENT spoke to Austin Community College’s Service-Learning Program Coordinator Sabryna Groves, to get a better understanding of the steps students should take to find volunteer opportunities and what it means to become an active community member. ACC student, Olivia Cruz,also gives us insight on what she gained from her experience volunteering through ACC.
As COVID continues, Groves gives us her thoughts on how the pandemic has affected community involvement.
“I have seen a lot of volunteer organizations are pivoting to work virtual opportunities and safe socially distant options into their agenda. Virtual volunteering is great but I think we will still see a demand for in-person volunteering.”
Groves believes that our social climate has played a part in the increased demand of students in search of volunteer opportunities. Movements such as Black Lives Matter and Stop Asian Hate have encouraged students to get involved within the community.
“There is a lot of motivation for people to become involved in their community I think now more than ever, and there is a serious demand for us as ACC faculty to make opportunities as visible and accessible to students,” Groves said.
Before the pandemic, Cruz volunteered through Student Life by participating the monthly food distributions that are partners with Central Texas Food Bank.
“I very much enjoyed volunteering for student life at ACC. I wish I had the opportunity to do it again. I felt like I really had a place and all the people around me had the same intentions to help out,” Cruz said.
Since COVID, Cruz feels that there has been a tremendous decline of volunteer work. Due to safety protocols, gathering in groups and social interaction is not as common as it was before. Cruz shared that she feels that ACC should bring more awareness to virtual volunteering opportunities for students. .
Groves gives us her top three resources for volunteering through ACC. First would be for students to start at Student Life and look for volunteer work there. Next would be Riverbat Reach, a website that includes 30 different community partnersj that the college has. Through Riverbat Reach, students can join the volunteer program and find work suitable to their needs.. As the final resource, Groves recommends givepulse, a website that provides multiple opportunities. Here students can create a free account with their ACC email and find up-to-date information on volunteering options.
Groves is currently working with ACC students in the visual communications area of study to learn how to make volunteering opportunities more accessible to students like Cruz in the future. Students can fill out this survey and participate in helping ACC encourage and present more opportunities to students to give back.
“When you’re working with people within your community and you’re having conversations about social issues, and working together to make a change it’s a very fulfilling feeling,” says Groves. “It gives you a reason to care about Austin and like being able to give back to the community.”
We talk to ACC Career Service about the best ways to adapt to a tumultuous job market.
By Adam Cherian
Need help preparing for the job market during a pandemic? We talk to ACC Career Service about the best ways to adapt to a tumultuous job market.
In the turbulent job market that COVID-19 has created, it’s essential that college students adopt the best qualifications for remote or online work. Given the volatile nature of this pandemic, it’s been stated as the safest option to search for work is remotely. Because there is no conclusive end to this pandemic, remote work seems to be the norm. That being said, there are new sets of skills that students need to adopt with such a shift in conditions. Career Services provides the best ways for ACC students to prepare for a career, remotely.
The best way to start your job search during a time when most things are remote is with this helpful page. ACC Career Services realize that the pandemic has hit working ACC students hard. So to help those who have lost their jobs, they created a page where you can look for job listings in your area. There is an excellent amount of positions ranging from in your field of study, to entry level jobs. Give it a look to help you find the best remote career opportunities.
This guide is a game changer! You will be given the most essential steps in how to prepare for applying for jobs. This guide is extensive, with sixty pages of extremely helpful information. It details everything from resumé tips, to Linkedin profile checklists. Better securing a good remote job is made easy with this guide, as it gives you the best tools to make you stand out. Consider giving this a read when applying for jobs to better prepare yourself, and to impress your future employers!
Need more help making your resumé stand out? During a time where remote work is becoming more necessary, a resumé that exceeds your employers expectations is a crucial step in securing a job. ACC Career Services has a resumé guide that is filled with tips, instructions, and examples to make sure you secure that remote position! Give this a read if you want to give your resumé a professional finish.
The interview process is always nerve-racking. With the added pressure of remote interviews and technological barriers, this process can be scary. Thankfully, ACC Career Services provides us with a platform where you can practice interviewing in your specific field. You can use this to practice at any time because the questions are pre-recorded. Give this a try and see how helpful practicing real world interviews virtually can be.
Once you have visited all the other resources ACC Career Services has to offer, it’s time to visit with a career counselor. Career counselors will offer you with the best advice on how to get, and prepare yourself for a new job. Speaking with professionals on how to better suit yourself for a remote job is priceless, and ACC offers it for just that! If you want to understand everything you need to know for remote work, schedule an appointment with a counselor today!
The year 2020 has thrown everyone for a loop. Hopefully these resources will help ACC students better prepare for the remote job market. These are the best for career readiness, and ACC students are privileged enough to get this for free!
Hello Riverbat! Ready To Leave The Nest & Transfer?
every day attend community college for a number of reasons, but one of the top
reasons is to better prepare themselves to attend and get a bachelor’s degree
from a four-year university. If this is your ultimate goal, then you’re
probably wondering whether the process of transferring will be difficult or
easy and the answer is that it is simple with planning, preparation and
said above, students attend community college for a number of reasons and most
of the time the reason is to use their time as a stepping stone and learning
opportunity for the next step up towards a 4-year degree. If you want to take
this path, here’s what you should do:
Do Not ‘Go With The Flow,’ Create A Plan!
Talk to an academic advisor.
Find resources, tools and more on ACC Transfer’s website! (Do not forget to schedule an appointment!)
Decide If You Want To Obtain An Associate’s Degree
Obtaining your associate’s degree can prove quite useful and fulfilling in the long run helpful for a number of reasons:
Degrees often transfer more easily than individual courses
An associate’s degree certifies that you have completed all of your general education requirements (be sure you have a basic understanding of the general education requirements at the school to which you are transferring).
An associate’s degree provides you with a credential to fall back on should you need to put your bachelor’s work on hold for any reason.
Do Your Research & Search For A New Home!
Research the university you want to attend and speak to an admissions advisor. Let them know you’re interested in transferring and see if there’s any information they can provide to help. It could also be helpful to network with professors and see if there are any programs you could participate in to make yourself stand out.
Define your educational goals. (i.e: What kind of degree do you want to get? What do you want to major in? What kind of career and job do you want after you graduate? … etc.)
Think about which universities you’d want to transfer to. It’s important to plan for this ahead of transferring because every school has different requirements. You want to make sure that everything you do during your time at community college will help you get accepted to your university.
Talk to your community college advisor and tell them about your plan to transfer to a university.
Communication Is Key!
Communicate with your community college advisor (and university transfer advisor) regularly to make sure you’re taking the right classes and doing the right things to make your transfer possible.
Apply for FASFA or TASFA Before Application Deadline!
Apply for financial aid when you’re in community college and when you plan to go to a university. Your school might have scholarships available specifically for transfer students, so make sure you know about them.
this information can look stressful or make you anxious about transferring to a
university from a community college, BUT you will succeed if you follow these
tips and head over to view ACC Transfer’s website! It will be a smooth and easy
process if you follow these tips and do well in your classes, good luck and I
assure you that you will be great.
Transfer Services– There are many ways to transfer to a four-year university via ACC. Transfer Services will help you navigate the possibilities. The department can also answer your questions about earning some credits here while you’re enrolled at another institution.
The Austin Community College Job Fair & Career Exploration Event this Spring was a success. Students from across all 11 campuses came together at the Highland campus in search of opportunities. Career Services hosted the event and brought together businesses like IBM and Amazon in the ACCelerator. It wasn’t hard for the sea of professionally dressed students to find supportive words of encouragement from staff members and volunteers at the event.
The ACCelerator housed over 100 businesses for students to network with. Grant Loveless, Student Ambassador for Career Services, values the opportunities that were made available to ACC students.
“The Job Fair was created to bring opportunity and access to Austin Community College students, as well as Austinites,” Loveless said. “It also helps connect student organizations and different opportunities out there for full-time, part-time, internships, externships, and volunteer work to students at all of ACC’s 11 campuses.”
The businesses featured at the Job Fair were organized by Area of Study with Area of Study Advisors located near each section. Students had access to LinkedIn profile headshots, onsite resume labs, and ACC resource tables. The Student Money Management Office also facilitated a free credit report station. The study rooms normally available in the ACCelerator were turned into interview rooms for onsite interviews.
K&G Fashion Superstore and the Austin Community College Fashion Incubator sponsored a work attire fashion show. Katie Johnson, a Creative Writing major, had the opportunity to model in the show.
“I had fun modeling in the fashion show,” says Johnson. “I was excited and nervous. I looked for Youth Development jobs since I used to work for the Boys & Girls Club.”
ACC’s Job Fair gave students access to a variety of career options.
“This event can open up a lot of door for students when it comes to their aspirations and for their academic and professional journeys,” says Loveless. “It is impactful when you see a student that has an urge to get an internship with a radio station or a job working with kids like the YMCA or doing volunteer work that includes kids like the Boys & Girls Club or Boy Scouts.”
When it comes to equipping students with networking skills and professionalism, Career Services is here to help.
“I talk to a large amount of students about Career Services,” Loveless said. “Some people don’t know what it is and the other half don’t know how to utilize it. The one thing I want any and all students to know is that Career Services is here to help. With Career Services we help you build your resume. We help you build your cover letter. We help you build job interview skills. We help you cultivate yourself as a leader. We push you in the direction you want to go in.”
Austin Community College students are not only learning networking skills, but also applying their knowledge in real world situations like the Job Fair.
Two Austin Community College Alumni from different walks of life, share their stories in hopes to change the stigma of junior colleges.
Written, Photo & Video by Marissa Greene
Once one has come to the point of receiving their high school diploma or completing their GED, what’s next? Well, that may look different for some people. It could be taking a gap year, entering the workforce or attending a college.
“Not going to college was never an option,” says ACC Alumni Network Council President, Lynn Kindler. Like many, Kindler was encouraged to take, at least, one year at ACC by her father. So, she began her educational journey in 1980 at the Rio Grande campus.
Decades later, a first-generation student, Jose Sosa, began his college education at ACC in 2002. “It was a big challenge, to be honest,” he says. “I never thought I would be able to accomplish my associate’s degree.”
Sosa was able to further his education through ESL and math classes to better his GPA at ACC before transferring to a four-year university.
Many pursue community college to make the transfer to a four-year college. However, according to the National Center for Educational Statistics, this past fall approximately 13.3 million first-year students enrolled in a four-year university, while 6.7 million students attended a two-year college. That’s nearly twice as many students paying more for the basic courses. What causes this gap – is there a stigma related to attending a community college?
“I had a lot of shame going on…it’s like everybody knew I was going to a community college instead of UT or St. Edwards,” says Kindler. “But I knew I was getting the education I needed because the classrooms were smaller and I was getting the attention I needed from the professors.”
As some may feel a lack of clout at a community college, others feel the stress of juggling daily tasks.
“I had to meet deadlines, go to work, study for my tests, and travel between campuses because I didn’t have transportation at the time,” Sosa says.
Prioritizing these tasks can be difficult for some. ACC works to create a variety of resources provided to its enrolled students, from financial readiness with Student Money Management to goal setting with academic coaches to networking with the Alumni Council.
“I was very disciplined to take my tests,” Sosa says as he took advantage of ACC resources in order to comb through all that he had to accomplish. Once he completed his associate’s, he wasn’t done just quite yet. Sosa took it to the next level by attending Texas State University and graduated with a Bachelor of Business Administration in 2013.
“I truly believe in education, it is very important,” Sosa says. “It can open so many doors professionally in so many ways.”
After looking back at all of her accomplishments and her start at ACC, Kindler recommends trying a two-year college before anything else. “It has taken a progression of many years for me to get to the place where it’s not a shame thing to go to community college. In fact, as a career coach…if you don’t know exactly what you want to do and where to get it, why wouldn’t you go to a community college to get the first two years knocked out?”
Kindler completed so many of her classes at ACC that she only had to earn 30 credit hours after transferring to UT. She claims to have a passion for helping others, “when I’m working with somebody and they’re really struggling with something or looking at something in their life, I can help them unlock the knowledge and gifts that they already had in them and wow that’s awesome.”
As members of the ACC Alumni Network Council, Kindler and Sosa show thanks to ACC for being their first steps to where they are today.
“I would like to give back to all that ACC has given me,” Sosa says. “What I tell students is that when I came to ACC I was not very fluent in the language. So if I could do it anybody else could do it.”
Whether you are looking to go back to school or beginning your first semester of community college, think about Jose Sosa and think about Lynn Kindler and think to yourself if community college is really all that bad?
Jose Sosa is a Lead Safety Coordinator at Workers Defence Project and owner of Sosa Income Tax and Adela’s Cleaning Services. He also earned OSHA Safety Certification to educate construction workers and nonprofit organizations about safety in the workplace.
After college, Lynn Kindler had a variety of careers such as an Executive Assistant to the Publisher of Texas Monthly, a mentor coach, Producer and host for Blog Talk radio, a career coach, amongst many others.
[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Written by Arlenne Lozano
Video from the Student Life Chronicle
Motivation is a force that drives people to execute goals. Sustaining motivation can pay off in many ways; such as achieving personal goals, feeling successful or earning a reward. Hard work does pay off. Whether it’s working towards a degree or continuing education, the struggle to keep the motivation is real.
“I think we’re naturally goal-directed; we have a purpose for doing most things,” says ACC Counselor Dawn Allison. “‘I want this degree for this career’ or something like that, but then there is just every day slogging through the homework, studies, and attendance, so sometimes we lose sight of that.”
So, how can students keep the motivation going in the upcoming year and semester?
Have S.M.A.R.T. Goals: Specific – A person who knows what their goals are is off to a good start but it can become a problem if that goal is too broad. The more specific and narrow the goal is, the more manageable and achievable. Ask personal questions, such as: why is this goal important to me? What do I want to accomplish with this goal in mind? What resources do I have that will allow me to accomplish the goal?
Measurable – Having a goal that is measurable is important because it helps one keep track of the progress. Having access to measuring a goal opens the ability to stay focused and meet important deadlines.
Achievable – Having achievable goals is vital to the process itself. Continue to reach for the stars, but think about the realistic ways you can get there. Ask yourself, “what skills are necessary for a particular goal” – what is needed to build them – go from there.
Relevant–Sometimes a person’s goals are influenced by family, friends, other loved ones.
Another important question to ask yourself, “is this my goal?” Maybe trying to be an engineer, just because the family does it, is not what you truly want as a career. Making a goal personal can turn out to be very rewarding.
Time-limiting/Time-bound – Create a deadline or target date for each goal. Think about what you can accomplish in six days, weeks, months, and years from today. Think about what there is to do today i order to meet that deadline.
Prioritize: Students have a lot going on that requires a day-to-day balancing act. Prioritizing responsibilities can help make the tasks less intrusive, stressful and overbearing on one’s personal life.
Know What Personally Motivates You: It is important for all individuals to understand what personally drives them each and every day.Allison said, “We’re driven by something to look forward to.” Perhaps the source is money, a new car, a degree, or good grades.
See an Advisor/Counselor: Seeing an advisor can be important for students to find the help they might need. Students might need help with transferring, choosing classes, or knowing what their next academic step is. Educational goals can be either short or long-term, so it is important to take advantage of given opportunities. Make an appointment with a counselor at austincc.edu/support-and-services.
Pick this story up in the Spring 2018 Life4U magazine on campus[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_video link=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PmuP_XXoMZ4″][/vc_column][/vc_row]
[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Written by Nate Torres Video by Amanda Lanclos
There is no shortage of people considering going back to school. The associated, and often deterring, question is often, “is it worth it?” Many weigh this by considering if the time and money invested will lead to better job opportunities. The determining factor is often the area of study.
Despite the bumps in the road that the auto industry has been going through, there is no shortage of cars on the road. Vehicles, eventually need repairs. To service those repairs, automotive technicians will be in demand. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the need for auto technicians will grow at a steady rate of 6 percent over the next ten years, averaging 2,300 new positions a year in Texas, alone.
In response, ACC has been training students to help meet the demand for technicians. Many students are finding work even before they complete the program.
“All of our students get jobs,” says department chair Mike Schoebroek. “Employers are calling all the time looking for employees. Typically it’s one of three different types of employers. Of course the dealerships, then independent repair shops, and then franchises like Firestone, Jiffy Lube, and Christian Brothers.”
ACC is certified by the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation (NATEF). The department offers four certificates and an associate degree in automotive. With the certification, the school makes sure to keep the instruction evolving as the quickly as vehicles.
“I went to trade school in the seventies,” says adjunct professor Kevin McNeil. “These kids have to learn a lot more in the same amount of time that I did. [Cars] are getting more technical… it ain’t the seventies. You have to hook with a lab scope and a DBOM, read a schematic and do pin checks.”
For soon to be graduate Mike Lopez, the more instruction ACC can get him on the automotive industry the better. “I plan to further my career and come back to get the advanced certificate; which I advise everybody do. They have automatic transmissions II, alternative fuels, and diesel classes which they don’t teach for the regular certificate or degree so you come back and finish that while you’re working.”
Advanced degrees or specialization is a great advantage for those who are already in the industry. According to the Bureau of Labor, specialization is a wise commitment reporting an increase from the average wage of $18 per hour to upwards of $30 an hour ($60000 per year) for those who specialize.
Honda has shown great interest in students looking to specialize with their PACT program through their partnership with ACC. This semester PACT is investing in ACC with a fleet of cars and specialty tools, so students are learning and working on Honda/Acura vehicles specifically. This program’s intentions are to provide students with many opportunities, especially those looking to find work at a dealership.
Howdy Honda’s shop foreman, says, “[Students] who come out of school with a PACT certificate are more likely to be hired here than the guy with the associate degree, because they’ve been working on our products.”
That’s not to say a generic automotive associate degree isn’t valued but as a former TSTC student, Bone says, “… when I came out I was ASE certified in all 8 areas and I didn’t have a clue how to work on a Honda. I had an idea how to work on a GM transmission or a Ford transmission but a Honda transmission is completely different.”
PACT will offer a 16-week certificate course as well as a two year associate degree similar to ACC’s generic program. Either way, time spent in ACC’s automotive programs seems to be a sure way to open doors to an automotive career. Bone says, “I like word of mouth but education, you can’t beat it.”
Starting college, there are many things to think about like paying for classes, which ones to take, where to live and more. Ultimately, ACC provides students with an education and sources to add to a resume to get a job in the appropriate area of study. However, not many know how to write a resume, or what to even put on it.
Many advisors suggest students build their experience at ACC by joining student organizations, volunteering, internships and anything that can give you experience beyond the classroom.
“I think the biggest mistake I see college students make when it comes to building their resume is, they don’t pay attention to anything except school,” says ACC advisor Don Bradley. “They do the bare minimum to get by and at the end they find themselves with a piece paper, nothing more. If an employer had a choice between two college graduates, one with a degree and one with a degree and an impressive resume of things they did in college who do you think they are going to hire?”
It’s not uncommon to attend class, go home and/or work and call it a day. However, the Office of Student Life offers multiple ways to to volunteer and participate in campus activities. If being on campus is too limiting, they can help you find ways to be involved in the community.
Bradley says, “I was very protective over my GPA and basically did whatever I could fit into my schedule. Doing stuff gives you experience and you never know who you might meet or what kind of connections you can make.”
Every job application should have a tailored resume and cover letter.
Resume Resumes should include several sections: your career objective, a list of experience and skills that pertain to the job and education. It is ok to apply to jobs before graduation, just be sure to place your expected graduation date under the education section. If a list of references isn’t asked for, then include it at the bottom of your resume. Have three or four references of current and/ past co-workers and managers who can speak, honestly, about your work ethic.
Cover Letter In addition to a resume, many employers, often, ask for a cover letter. A cover letter is a summary of your resume and a formal way of introducing yourself. This is the opportunity to explain how a past experience or skill set, listed in your resume, makes you a top candidate for the job.
“Sincerity is an important element to a good cover letter,” says Bradley. “Staying away from empty phrases also, give people the facts they need not a flowy paragraph about how you’re a people person. The absolute worst thing you can do is use your cover letter to kiss up. Being a kiss up is a big turn off and it makes you seem lazy,”
When writing a cover letter, try keep it about a page long. Human Resources and the managers are receiving many resumes and cover letters (if asked), so be sure to keep it short simple and to the point. Formally address the boss or company you are writing it to and close it with the best way to reach out to you for an interview.
The libraries on every ACC campus has readings that can help you build your resume and cover letter. Or you can visit their online guide at austincc.edu/careerinfo. For hands-on learning, the Highland ACCelerator hosts several Resume & Cover Letter workshops throughout the semester.