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Spotlight: Career Development Center's Tara Stevenson

Feb 16, 2017

The “Spotlight” series offers a glimpse into the lives of those who work behind the scenes to provide an enriching experience for Flagler College students. Individuals featured in the series will be included in the bi-weekly faculty and staff newsletter.

For Tara Stevenson, there’s no time like today to prepare for tomorrow. The director of the college’s Career Development Center is leading the charge to help students plan for life after Flagler. Her team’s work is paying off. According to the center’s latest report on job placement, 88 percent of the April/August 2016 graduating class currently works or attends graduate school. That success, she said, starts with the classic, written presentation of self, the notoriously-sidelined resume.

 

Career Development Center Director, Tara Stevenson, in her office

“Our office changed from being the ‘Office of Career Services’ to the ‘Career Development Center’ last summer. The ‘center’ better reflects who we are and is more holistic and inclusive of what we do. We offer more resume-building and professional development workshops than we used to. I’m all about change, and trying something new and creative. We even changed the furniture and layout of our office to make it more inviting. Our goal is to get students in the door, even if they come in just to get coffee. When the time comes for them to need help with their resume, they’ll be back.”


A picture of Tara Stevenson.

“My whole life I was going to be a Special Education teacher. But then I took my very first class in Cultural Anthropology and it turned my world upside down. I loved it. I changed to Journalism, then I thought about Women’s Studies and finally finished with a degree in Speech Communication, with a Cultural Anthropology minor. Throughout all of college I worked on campus. I realized I could make it a career to work at a college. I went to grad school at FIU for Higher Ed Administration. This is where I tell students what they don’t want to hear: I wasn’t happy with the first job I got a community college, and I worked in childcare for two years because I couldn’t find a job at a college after grad school. I tell students you can’t come out of college and get the perfect job. You have to be realistic. I’m always very straightforward with them about that.”

 

A picture of Tara Stevenson

“I tell students, 'Don’t look at the computer when searching for graduate schools. Start here and then go to the computer.' One of my favorite resources here is ‘What can I do with a major in….’ I used these (guides) in my undergrad; it allows students to really zero in on ‘This is my major, these are some things I can do, or no, absolutely not…I am not going into that.’ It gives them direction.”

 

A picture of Tara Stevenson with a student.

“I’m invested in what students do, but what they choose to do doesn’t affect me. I’m that objective person that can look at their situation and give advice. What I tell students is that it’s very important to have a foundational resume. You don’t want to be scrambling to throw something together. If you have one ready you can always edit it. The second thing is to come to a Career Development event and talk to people. Part of my job is helping students get energized and believe that they can do something they love.” (Stevenson pictured above with student assistant Elena De Marco)



A picture of high heels.

“Shoes are a way to express yourself. It's a way to add something fun, your personality, character. When I’m in heels, I feel like I’m on a better playing field. It just makes me feel more confident. I have about 60 pairs. It’s a statement of who I am. My favorite is a floral pair. They started talking last week when the heel broke. I was heartbroken.”

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