New Career Services programs focus on cross-campus partnerships

November 10, 2017

Ninety-two percent of Price alumni secure full-time employment or accepted into graduate school within six months of graduation.

Career Services Networking Night
USC Price students, alumni and employers gathered for the Office of Career Services’ annual Networking Night on Oct. 24 at the Tutor Center. (Photo by Tom Queally) More photos from the event available on Flickr »

By Cristy Lytal

To capture the unique qualities of students at the USC Price School of Public Policy, new Career Services Director Valerie Savior decided to invent her own adjective.

“We came up with this notion of ‘Priceful,’ which is service oriented, mission driven, courageous, brave,” Savior said. “It’s a combination of Trojan ethics and Price School values — and a ‘Priceful’ student possesses these.”

To help students be both Priceful and priceless in the eyes of potential employers, Savior and Assistant Director Allyson Dhindsa have launched several new Career Services programs. These efforts are tailored to improve upon what is already a great success: currently, 92 percent of USC Price School alumni secure full-time employment or acceptance into graduate school within six months of graduation.

Innovative initiatives

Career Services Director Valerie Savior, center, with Assistant Director Allyson Dhindsa and Associate Director of Employer Relations Dominic Alletto (Photo by Tom Queally)

For undergraduates, Career Services’ new flagship program is “My Career Essentials,” a series of workshops discussing best practices for cover letters, resumes, internships, networking, the elevator pitch, job search strategies and more.

“Allyson and Valerie provided so many example resumes, cover letters and graphics that effectively explained concepts,” said undergraduate student Rachel Krusenoski, following the first workshop this fall. “Also, I loved that they provided firsthand experience with employers, as well as highlighted the ways other students have utilized the resume template and made it their own. In particular, I liked the information on how to make cover letters sound more genuine and personal — that was something I was really struggling with. I look forward to going to more workshops in the future.”

The Price Career Services team also partnered with the Master of Public Policy program office to provide a career assessment to all first-year students during orientation.

Utilizing an evaluation instrument called the PRINT assessment, Dhindsa helped students identify their unconscious motivators — “what motivates you to seek fulfillment professionally? And given these motivations, how do you look for work environments with these kinds of work cultures?”

Many MPP students found the assessment to be an insightful resource; and half of them chose to attend a follow-up workshop, led by Dhindsa.

“[The assessment] provided me with detailed feedback about how I can react more positively in situations, and concrete guidance related to my career path,” said MPP student Candice Rankin. “Allyson’s presentation to all new Public Policy students clarified the most effective ways to use [this resource] to improve group project dynamics and to prepare for informational interviews.”

Expanding experiences

Price Professional Mentorship Program
The Office of Career Services recently hosted the Price Professional Mentorship Program (PPMP) launch event at Lewis Hall. (Photo by Upasana Paul) More photos from the event available on Flickr »

For all USC Price students at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, Career Services introduced “My Resume Bar.” Through this program, 11 second-year master’s students provide drop-in resume critique services for their peers three days a week.

“My Resume Bar has transformed the tedious experience of formatting, writing and cutting a resume into something interactive, positive and fun,” said MPP student, Hannah Harper. “[My advisor’s] genuine desire to help me, coupled with his can-do attitude, enabled us to create an application-ready resume within an hour.”

Edmundo Diaz, a student in the MPA program, added: “My Resume Bar made everything so simple. I have gotten tons of compliments on the format and word choice on my new resume thanks to all the tips I received from the peer advisors.”

Most recently, Career Services partnered with the Development Office to offer the first-ever Washington, D.C. Career Trek this past October. Thanks to generous support from the school’s donors, 12 students had the opportunity to get a taste of careers in the nation’s capital free of cost. They visited alumni who hosted them at the National Counterterrorism Center, the Trust for America’s Health, Deloitte Consulting and other key sites.

In addition to introducing this new programming, Career Services has also enhanced their existing offerings. For example, participants in the USC Price Professional Mentorship Program now receive access to Gallup’s strengths assessment, which identifies their five top talent areas.

Savior and Dhindsa are also teaching PPD 543, an Internship Seminar for students in the Master of Public Administration program. The course guides the students through the process of reflecting on their goals, marketing themselves and landing in the professional realm.

Mission motivated

Valerie Savior (Photo by Tom Queally)

For Savior, one of the best parts of her job is helping students achieve career clarity.

“I enjoy working the college-age population, whether undergraduate or master’s,” she said. “It’s such a transformational time in their lives, and there’s so much identity development wrapped up with career choice.”

Savior’s own path to career clarity took many twists and turns. Raised in both New York City and Los Angeles, Savior studied comparative literature as an undergraduate at Occidental College and earned a master of fine arts degree in poetry from the University of Iowa.

“As you may know, poets often have some sort of other employment also,” she quipped.

After trying out human resources and tutoring, Savior discovered her passion for career services and worked in the field for 18 years at her alma mater, Occidental College. During her nine years as director there, she opened a $1.2 million career center and shepherded a donor-funded internship program for the students.

When the opportunity arose to serve as director of Career Services at USC Price, Savior decided to make the leap.

“I thrive in mission-driven work environments,” she said. “The fact that we serve communities, and we have this social justice focus to most of our disciplines is a very good fit for me. I enjoy having those rich conversations about how to be of service.”

Career Services’ new mission statement celebrates this ethos of service: “The USC Price Office of Career Services connects students motivated to solve local and global problems with practitioners who already are. By empowering students to navigate career complexity, we help create life-long, fulfilling careers.”

To complement their new mission statement, Career Services has also crafted a set of “tips to be career competent.” These tips include discovering your path, communicating the Price advantage, marketing yourself in the global Internet economy, and building your search strategy and your relationships.

“We really see ourselves as brokers or facilitators of connections,” Savior said. “We’re here to empower students to have agency and connect with the Trojan network for lifelong, fulfilling careers.”