Student to student mentoring: UNC Hussman launches Career Peers program
Dean Susan King calls this year’s seniors “the resilient class.” Throughout UNC Hussman’s transition to remote learning, UNC Hussman faculty and staff have noticed one theme: students helping students. Now, UNC Hussman Career Services is channeling that spirit into a new program: Career Peers.
The Career Peers are students who work with the Career Services team to support other undergraduate students during the job and internship search process. This year’s inaugural Career Peers are seniors Isabel Hewgley, Alice Lim and Niki Suchy.
Career Peers will provide everything from editing resumes, cover letters and LinkedIn profiles to interview tips to informal chats about students’ concerns and their own experiences and insights. They will also assist in programming various student-focused events such as virtual Meet the Pros and a student-to-student internship fair.
UNC Hussman Career Services director Jay Eubank and assistant director Jenn Sipe will still provide their usual appointments and services. But the new program will give undergraduates a unique opportunity to talk to fellow students who have been through the internship and job search process, too.
The program was planned before the coronavirus pandemic, and has long been a goal of school leadership. But this year, “the challenging environment that our students face makes it a timely addition to our services,” said Louise Spieler, senior associate dean for strategy and administration.
“Some students are more likely to seek help and support from a peer they can relate to than a staff member,” Sipe said. “Additionally, adding our career peers will expand our bandwidth, provide more services and reach more students.”
The Career Peers are receiving training from Eubank and Sipe, and are looped in on the latest strategies coming through that office. They will also provide feedback to the school, so that UNC Hussman can nimbly respond to students’ needs.
“We’re constantly looking for ways to improve,” Spieler said. “Having that student voice is essential.”
The Career Peers
Isabel Hewgley ’21 says she “knows how overwhelming the career preparation process can be.” She is excited to be what she calls a “thought partner” for her peers, since “sometimes when you are going through this process you want to talk to someone who is your age and has the perspective.”
Hewgley is studying advertising and has been excited about a career in the field since she got goosebumps touring UNC Hussman. “I’ve, seriously, tried just about every piece of advice you can get when it comes to this topic and used most of the resources available to us at UNC,” she said.
Hewgley has held a number of advertising and marketing-focused roles, most recently as an account management intern at McKinney where she worked on the ESPN, Little Caesars and Sherwin-Williams accounts. After working closely with Eubank and Sipe to prepare for interviews and polish her qualifications, she has realized the value of talking through her options with a good team.
Job searching is “more about trying to really understand what people’s lives at certain jobs look like, what companies are putting out into the world and trying to find where you will be a good fit,” Hewgley said. “If you can genuinely invest time into this type of searching and you can find places that you are genuinely excited about, your application will be so different, in the best way.”
The new Career Peers program is important, Hewgley notes, because the peers are able to offer appointment times outside of regular work hours so that more students can get help. She welcomes students at all stages of the career search: “You might just need to bounce ideas off someone, or get help putting your resume together. Career Peers meetings just offer a different vibe and I think a lot of students could benefit from that.”
Alice Lim ’21 agrees that the Career Peers offer a unique perspective. Lim, who was born in Korea and raised in Vancouver, is concentrating on public relations and writing an honors thesis on social media research. She is also double majoring in peace, war and defense. With such diverse interests, she was grateful for guidance from the UNC Hussman Undergraduate Hub and Career Services team.
“All of my internships have come about through Career Services,” she said. After interning at CISLM “fueled her passion” for research, she secured an internship at The Brookings institution last summer, with essential help from Eubank. Lim hopes to intern in Washington, D.C. next year, and eventually work towards becoming a professor.
Even before Career Peers, Lim often found herself helping friends through the job search process. “I’ve had a lot of friends come and ask, ‘can you take a look at this resume; can you help prepare me for this interview,’ really since I got to UNC,” she said. After joining the Hussman Ambassadors program, “I realized there are so many career resources and Hub resources for students. I just thought it’s just too good not to share.”
Lim is passionate about being an empathetic presence for her fellow students. “As an international student, it can be hard to fit in and applying to your first internship in a new country is completely different,” she said. “At the time I wished that I had a student I could have reached out to. That’s what I want to be now.”
Student-to-student interaction is key for everyone, she believes. “We are here with you; we fully understand the confusion and fear you might have. We’re here to walk you through because we’re going through the same thing.”
Niki Suchy ’21 also loves the interaction that the Career Peers program brings. “Communication can be so hard right now, and I love helping people and talking to people,” Suchy said. “I’m so glad this program exists.”
Suchy is studying journalism and graphic design at UNC Husman, along with a double major in contemporary european studies and a minor in art. This semester, she is interning at WALTER Magazine in Raleigh. After starting out as a pre-med student, Suchy found her calling in graphic design. “A friend helped me find my place in the world by telling me about intro to graphic design at Hussman,” Suchy said. “So now I want to help others find their way.”
Like Hewgley, Suchy noticed that the job search process can be more flexible and creative than many students anticipate. As an artist, she was worried that her branding and interview style had to be presented in a rigid format — until she spent time with the Career Services team and learned of the different ways to present herself to employers.
“It’s been so flexible and there are so many more opportunities to showcase my work than I expected,” Suchy noted. “I’m very excited that I have now broken into this field and know how to structure my cover letter and resume and do interviews in a way that works for me.”
After training with the Career Services team, Suchy feels connected to UNC Hussman: “This department means so much to me.” She hopes students from all years of the school will find the Career Peers to be an intimidation-free space to explore their options.
“Career Services has so much to offer. I would love to share it with others.”
The Career Peers are kicking off the program with a resume round-up. Students can email their resume to firstname.lastname@example.org to be reviewed and critiqued by a career peer. A career peer will then follow-up individually with the student to schedule an appointment to go over their resume. And register now for the Hussman Student-to-Student Virtual Internship Fair! Listen to fellow students who've gained industry knowledge through summer internships or experiences and connect with fellow Hussman students. https://go.unc.edu/InternshipFairUNCHussman.