Marcella’s Career Readiness Journey 

Marcella first came across the 8 Nace Career Competencies during her sophomore year while browsing the Center for Career Development’s website for resources. The idea of learning about them seemed daunting, especially because she had already spent a lot of time updating her résumé and LinkedIn profile and was looking for summer internship opportunities. Balancing her rigorous curriculum with her job search efforts was no small task, so she was hardly excited at the prospect of now having to learn about the Career Readiness Competencies and how to enhance them.

After reluctantly reading through the Career Readiness Competencies definitions and sample behaviors, Marcella quickly realized that she had already demonstrated and, in many cases, enhanced most of these Career Readiness Competencies both in high school and as a first-year student at UConn. She initially thought back to the time when she decided to travel to Canada as part of a high school study abroad program. It was the first time she found herself outside her comfort zone, without friends and family to support and encourage her. Despite her shy nature, Marcella made every effort to meet and get to know people in this new environment. She even made a surprising discovery that challenged one of her long-held assumptions; being introverted had very little to do with one’s ability to effectively communicate or collaborate within a team

“I immediately felt more confident, once I realized that these were all competencies I had demonstrated in the past.”

Marcella then thought about how she ended up majoring in Biomedical Engineering at the UConn College of Engineering. She had spent considerable time during her junior and senior years in high school, critically thinking about the potential areas of study that would allow her to combine her strong proficiency in math with her interests in engineering and healthcare. During that same period, Marcella had engaged in various student club activities that, without her realizing it at the time, had helped her enhance several of her Career Readiness Competencies including teamwork, communication, the use of technology, and leadership.  

During her first year at UConn, Marcela had taken full advantage of her class group assignments to learn how to work effectively in a team, while demonstrating her professionalism by being responsible and accountable for the quality and timely completion of her work. Outside of the classroom, Marcella continued to apply her growth mindset by engaging  in various on-campus activities, including becoming one of the mentors in the Engineering Learning Community where she contributed to creating an inclusive and equitable learning environment

Once in her sophomore year, Marcella was in the process of securing a summer internship but was having second thoughts about her choice of major. She spent the next several weeks analyzing her options while communicating with academic advisors, professors, and students that had found themselves in similar situations. It was going to be an important decision, and Marcella made sure that she had consulted diverse sources of information before making an informed decision about her future. After careful consideration, Marcella decided to transfer to the Management & Engineering for Manufacturing major. Making the transition was initially quite stressful but Marcella felt confident in her ability to adapt to the new circumstances. In fact, when she revisited the “How to Become Career Ready: Skills Employers Seek”  section on the UConn Center for Career Development website, she realized that the Career Readiness Competencies that she had been enhancing over the years and was continuing to enhance on a daily basis, were going to be critical to her career success, regardless of the career that she would eventually chose to embark on.  

During her junior and senior years, Marcella took advantage of every opportunity to enhance her Career Readiness. Her internship in the summer of 2023 not only allowed her to demonstrate and further develop her Career Readiness Competencies while on the job, but also prompted her to consider additional steps that she could take as part of the career and self-development.

“It was during my internship in the summer of 2023 that I came to fully appreciate the importance of the Career Readiness Competencies. Every situation I encountered required me to leverage one or more of these competencies in order to achieve success in my job.”

By her graduation in May 2024, Marcella had enrolled in a part-time graduate program in Business Analytics and Project Management and had secured a job opportunity in data analytics to complement her graduate studies. Her ongoing career readiness journey had not been a linear one, but one filled with opportunities that helped her navigate uncertainty, while successfully enhancing her Career Readiness Competencies along the way. 

By Theo Menounos
Theo Menounos Assistant Director, Career Readiness Competencies, Liaison for Engineering, Physics, Chemistry