Molly Breen did something most college freshmen never dream of doing. She met with a career coordinator.
“I was definitely a scared freshman. I had never done anything like that before,” laughed Breen, a junior from Lakeville, Minnesota.
“I met Melanie Gella and she really helped me feel comfortable,” said Breen, who selected finance as her major and marketing as her minor.
Gella (’05 finance, international business; ’12 MBA) is a career coordinator at the College of Business who specializes in assisting students who major in finance and business economics.
During their freshman year, all business students learn about Undergraduate Business Career Services, and the staff, located in the Gerdin Business Building.
Career coordinators assist students in all aspects of career development. This includes researching careers, creating a résumé, interviewing, connecting with companies of interest, and learning about negotiation skills. Each career coordinator at the College of Business specializes in a certain major to better assist students.
“Melanie has degrees from our programs and has work experience in corporate investments,” said Director of Career Services Kathy Wieland.
“I think this is an advantage for us that several of our career coordinators actually worked in the discipline with which they work,” Wieland said. “We really do have a comprehensive team of career coordinators who are here to help business students on their path to career success. I encourage them all to take advantage of this service and meet with a career coordinator as soon as possible.”
Their efforts are paying off as 97 percent of business undergraduates report they are working, continuing their education, or serving in the military within six months of graduation.
Iowa State University has a decentralized career services approach. Each college has
its own process for helping students. “That’s unique,” Gella said. “Only about 15 percent of U.S. universities have this structure, and ours is the only one on campus that divides career coordinators by major.”
Business students are required to take BUSAD 203, which is taught by a career coordinator. Each class meets once a week for one semester. Students learn about careers in business, issues relevant to the workplace, developing and implementing a professional job search, résumé and professional correspondence, interviewing, evaluating offers, business etiquette, networking, and transitioning from student to employee.
“They also learn about the career fairs we hold each semester, and why it’s so important for them to attend, even if they are not yet ready to apply for an internship or full-time position after graduation,” Gella said.
During their time together, Breen said Gella has had a positive impact on her. “She helped me improve my résumé and learn how to navigate the career fair. She helped me with cover letters. I applied to about 50 different internships, and Melanie helped me through the entire process.”
If there is one message Breen would like to share with early program business students, it’s this: “I would recommend all freshmen go in and meet a career coordinator,” she said. “Go in and just talk. That initial sit-down is so crucial. I didn’t think I was ready to talk about internships or careers. All I had on my résumé at that point was lifeguard and nanny.”
Dawson Barriuso, who graduated in May with a double major in finance and business economics, agreed.
“I met Melanie during my junior year while I was looking for an internship,” he said. After attending the career fair, he received an internship offer the next day.
“I had to make a fast decision. Melanie really helped me with that by going through the pros and cons and sharing her point of view. She gave me an objective opinion based on those points. It’s not the same feedback I get from friends or family members.”
As Barriuso neared completion of his degree, he met with Gella about every two weeks as he searched for full-time employment. During that process, he had multiple interviews, offers, and negotiations to sift through. “It’s a lot to take in,” he said. “I’ve never done anything like this before, so it’s pretty overwhelming.”
As he recalled his experience, Barriuso said he could not overemphasize how friendly and willing Gella was throughout the process. “Even when we were meeting every two weeks, it was like she was excited for an update and really wanted to help,” he said.
With that careful guidance, Barriuso chose full-time employment with Ecolab in Houston, Texas. He is thankful for the services offered by the College of Business Career Services office.
Business Career Services is dedicated to providing students and alumni with the information and tools necessary for successful career development and job seeking. Learn more: firstname.lastname@example.org or 515-294-2542.