The Career Everywhere team is excited to highlight a Career Champion each month. The Career Champion Spotlight for January 2022 is Jessica Groves.
Jessica Groves is the Assistant Director of Academic Advising for Psychological Sciences in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. She has been an active member of the Career Champions Program for the past several semesters and has dedicated her time to providing students with career advice and information. Read on to learn more about Jessica and the work she does with students through the Career Champion program.
Cecelia Lickteig: How did you get into your line of work and were there any influential people in your life that helped you along your journey?
Jessica Groves: I like to say that I fell into advising. I was very involved with the advising center when I was a student in college. I interned there for many semesters and was a peer mentor (similar to the FYE Peer Mentors at UConn). I realized through this experience and through an Adolescent Psych class that I wanted to work with adolescents in school settings. So, I decided on a high school counselor. I went to graduate school for School Counseling and was ready to start my career as a school counselor. But life happened, and I moved out of state right after graduating and did not have the proper state certifications at the time of hiring. So, when I missed the k-12 hiring window, I reached out to my alma mater and the people I had maintained relationships with and asked if they had any part-time positions. They did and I was hired part-time in two different offices, working full time. By this time, I had made the connection between school counseling and college advising and expressed my interest in college advising. Then something lucky happened – an advisor who had been there for a long time was leaving. The leadership who was filling the position knew me and knew my background and asked me if I wanted to take the interim role. I did, got hired full time, and I’ve been in advising ever since – about 9 years later!
CL: How did you become interested in career development work?
JG: I actually didn’t love career coaching when I learned about it in graduate school, but after some work experience and helping students connect the dots, I really love that part of my job! Especially within a major where the career options are really endless.
CL: Do you supervise student employees and how do you help them in their career development search?
JG: Yes! I supervise about 7 student workers, or Peer Advisors, as we call them in our office. We are often working on soft skills and transferable skills in the day-to-day. During mid-semester and end of semester meetings, we are reviewing the skills they excel at and the ones they need to work more on. his directly relates to the transferable skills they indicate on their resume for future work or graduate school. We’ve even asked the Center for Career Development to come into our meetings to do a transferable skills workshop for them.
CL: What is the main way you interact with students/your way of giving career advice (during class, by making specific appointments, holding group meetings, etc.)?
JG: As an advisor, I work with students every day. Their major, course selection, and internship experiences are directly related to their career goals. So, it is very important that I ask students this question and engage them in career conversations. I also teach FYE and SYE, and we do a bit more directed career exploration and career information through various class activities and discussions.
CL: What other resources do you use to provide students with meaningful career advice?
JG: I always refer students to the Career Center if they need more individualized and frequent career assistance. The Psych website has a lot of career information and programming, so I refer students to that as well.
CL: What is one piece of advice would you give any student during their career development journey?
JG: Most students carry various misconceptions around career and career development that can hinder their career exploration journey. I do a lot of education around these topics, so much so that I recently published a book about it! (I don’t necessarily want to promote myself, but it is true!). So my advice would be for students to talk to the experts – advisors, career development, faculty, people in the field – to get the most up-to-date information. My other piece of advice to students is to not let their major put them into a career box. You can go into nearly any career with any major. Sometimes, students get really hung up on that and it prevents them from choosing a major they can be more successful in or the careers they view for themselves.
CL: Why did you decide to become a Career Champion?
JG: I had long been including career topics in my day-to-day advising, as well as my FYE and SYE courses. So, I was happy to join and share my information and learn more. The idea that career conversations happen in various places and with various people on campus is a really important and interesting concept and can really impact a student in a positive way. I also love career counseling and love having these conversations with students.
CL: How has being a career champion impacted your approach to giving students career advice?
JG: Because career coaching is such an integral part of my job, I haven’t had to change much of my approach, although the semester meetings with other folks from certain industries have given me specific examples of employers and what they are saying.
CL: If you were talking to a colleague about joining the Career Champion program, what would you share with them about the benefits of joining?
JG: Learning current trends and information from the folks in the program that work in different industries is so valuable. It’s also a great way to hear how you can easily integrate career conversations into meetings and classes.
Interested in becoming a Career Champion? Click here to learn about the program and its benefits.