Peer Career Advisors offer relatable advice

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The Peer Career Advisers (PCAs) of SVSU’s Career Services office work with students and alumni who need assistance with their professional endeavors.

PCAs are current SVSU students who have been trained to help individuals write professional documents, including résumés, cover letters and electronic portfolios.

“The PCAs are working with everyone from nursing to teaching to social work to business majors,” said Tom Barnikow, an assistant director of Career Services. “They know about what a nurse is doing in their clinical rotation versus what a secondary teacher is doing in their teaching experience, and they know how to help those students adequately represent themselves through their résumé.”

PCAs help individuals reflect on their past experiences, gain new perspectives and enhance their résumés.

“I think meeting with a PCA is the building block to understanding the types of skills that will make you marketable to employers,” said Michael Major, the director of Career Services. “The PCAs have the entry level conversations to help our students start thinking about what they accomplished versus what they did in previous jobs.”

Shafayat Alam, a senior PCA, echoed Major.

“We have students and alumni reflect on their accomplishments so that they bring back the skills they didn’t recognize while they did that work,” Alam said. “Secondly, we get that framework established. Once you come in and you work with us, you have your résumé and cover letter in a situation where it can be accepted anywhere. Then, you have the possibility to have a one-on-one with one of the directors, taking the conversation to the highest level.”

Meeting with a PCA gives students a chance to discuss their skills with peers who have similar life experiences and goals.

“We are at the student level,” Alam said. “Students can relate to us because there are things that we all share as college students. I think the baseline of the college peer is great because I can laugh or be sad around them. Students who meet with us are more open to share their stories, which helps us better understand them and their objectives.”

PCAs help individuals of all ages and backgrounds achieve their highest level of marketability and professionalism.
“(PCAs) can sit for an hour with a person who has been laid off after being employed for 20 years,” Major said. “At the end of that hour, when that individual checks out with me, they have a sense of pride, because they understand how to utilize what they’ve done for the last 20 years to move into the future.”

Barnikow further emphasized the skills of the PCAs.

“They have the ability to take an individual’s entire path of how they got to where they are now and encapsulate that in one or two pages,” Barnikow said.

SVSU students and alumni who are interested in future co-op or internship opportunities are encouraged to meet with a PCA.

“Peer career advisers monitor the co-op and internship application,” Alam said. “If you have an intention of getting accepted into the internship program or applying to internships, we can expedite it. We can sit down and make sure that everything looks good for the application so that you do not have to re-apply multiple times.”

PCAs meet with individuals on a walk-in basis during regular office hours. They can also be reached via email through SVSU’s Career Services website.

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