Across OU’s campuses, many advisers are looking for ways to connect with students through online meetings. Although virtual, these meetings are done so advisers can make sure they are creating comfortable ways for students to build the in-person connection that isn’t as prevalent this year.

In this difficult time for students, the Career and Leadership Development Center, or CLDC, and the Division of Diversity and Inclusion have created the Diversity and Career Drop-In Center, offering an opportunity for students to talk to someone who is able to provide guidance and answer questions.

The drop-in corner is an addition to the countless resourceful opportunities that OU offers.

“Well, it’s really unlimited,” Tamika Williams, assistant director of diversity and inclusion for the CLDC and organizer of the drop-ins, said. “That's in our coaching style. We don't limit students on what they can talk about. The cool thing about me is, I'm a jack of all trades. I know a little bit about financial aid, and I know a little bit about clubs and organizations. I know a little bit about employers coming to campus. I know how to connect people.” 

Williams’ main priority is making the student feel comfortable and heard. Any topics can be covered during a drop-in, from resumes and letters of recommendation to adding a specialization or just talking about school or personal life.

The drop-in meetings are 10 minutes long, and students can sign up online. If a student needs more than 10 minutes, Williams said she’d be happy to meet with the students in order to help them with whatever they need to feel fulfilled.

Thirty-minute meetings are offered for career coaching as well through the different colleges at OU.

“That is the most exciting, fulfilling part of my job,” Marcquis Parham, assistant director of the Patton College of Education for the CLDC, said. “It’s seeing a student go from that place of discovery, where they're really looking at what they want their next direction to be, whether it's a specific major or a specific career field. Some students may want a specific location where they are really interested in being. But taking them from that discovery phase to actually achieving that goal is one of the most fulfilling experiences you can have as an educator or as a professional. Along with that journey, I think the process involves more listening than it does advice, which is unique.”

In the Patton College of Education, Parham prioritizes creating connections with his students before meeting with them. He helps them network, answers their questions and points them in the right direction.

“It takes a little bit more time to build rapport in an online environment because it's hard to observe body language in an online environment, and it can be a little awkward when you meet someone for the first time, and it's through a video chat.” Aaron Sturgill, associate director of employer relations for the CLDC, said. “I think it's important to spend a little extra time on just getting to know the student, hopefully helping them feel comfortable because sometimes these career conversations are scary.” 

Sturgill meets with students in all majors, so no matter the major of a student, there will always be an adviser waiting to help.

Although this year has looked different when scheduling appointments and building rapport is more difficult than ever, it doesn’t stop Williams, Parham and Sturgill from helping answer student’s concerns and questions.

Coming up, the university is hosting a career and internship fair that will help students meet with people who can offer ideas for future career paths. The career fair will take place through Handshake on Feb. 10 as a chance for students to build a network with employers and expand their horizons to the opportunities out there.

“At some point in life, you always have to try something new,” Williams said. “It's not a facade. There's an authenticity and a real passion for wanting to help. I want to give you that one answer that you've been searching the whole university to get. I want to be that person.”

@kkayyben

kb084519@ohio.edu