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MTSU Career Development Center provides ‘holistic’...

MTSU Career Development Center provides ‘holistic’ gateway to students, alumni readying for workforce [+VIDEO]

Beka Crocket, director of MTSU’s Career Development Center, wishes more True Blue students took advantage of the many tools and resources available through her office located in the center of campus.

“I often joke that we are the best kept secret,” Crocket said. “Once students find us, they have a good experience, and we want to make sure that all students know this service is available to them, and that they don’t have to prepare for life outside of academics alone.”

Beka Crocket

Beka Crocket

Located in room 328 of the Keathley University Center on campus, the Career Development Center offers a myriad of online and in-person services to help students find the job for them.

One of its greatest resources — the annual Fall Career Fair — will be held Sept. 30 from noon to 3 p.m. at the Murphy Center and is now open for registration. It is open to all students and alumni.

“We help with so many things,” Crocket said. “From major confirmation and exploration; to getting a job or internship; to resumes, cover letters and interview prep; to complimentary professional attire and hosting events to connect with employers.”

A Colorado native, Crocket got her undergraduate degree in agriculture education and her master’s degree in education with a focus on counseling and career development from Colorado State University.

Since joining the Career Development Center in 2019 and becoming director in 2021, she began pursuing her Ed.D. through the College of Education.

Crocket admitted she fell into her own career in the world of higher education while working for the government as a case manager and career coach for people on assistance.

“A friend who knew I had a background in agriculture and a passion for helping people encouraged me to apply for a job at Colorado State,” she said. “I (applied) and have been working in higher ed for over 10 years. Walking alongside students to help them find their way … and their next or first job is such an honor.”

Ikeia Gaines, far right, recent Middle Tennessee State University master’s graduate in criminal justice administration, used the university’s Career Development Center to obtain her full-time probation officer position in Marshall County, Tennessee. She continues to use the center’s services and visited the on-campus center and staff on Sept. 8, 2021. (MTSU photo by Stephanie Barrette)

Ikeia Gaines, far right, recent Middle Tennessee State University master’s graduate in criminal justice administration, used the university’s Career Development Center to obtain her full-time probation officer position in Marshall County, Tennessee. She continues to use the center’s services and visited the on-campus center and staff on Sept. 8, 2021. (MTSU photo by Stephanie Barrette)

Crocket is proud of the center’s holistic approach to supporting students.

“(It’s) not transactional, and we are able to have highly impactful conversations with students about potential careers based on our motivation to assist them with identifying their personal values and interests,” she said. “We don’t have a cap on how many times we will meet with them, and we’re also here to cheer them on even as they’re alumni and potentially transitioning careers.”

Crocket emphasized the center’s message to the campus community: It is open, and staff are waiting to serve you.

“Visit us early and visit us often! We are here to help!”

‘I say start now’

Ikeia Gaines, a recent master’s graduate in criminal justice administration, did not take full advantage of the career center at first.

“I heard previously of the opportunities that students could obtain using these services, but I honestly thought that I would have to first obtain my degree before I could work in the field,” Gaines said.

Ikeia Gaines, right, recent Middle Tennessee State University master’s graduate, gets help from Jason Wasilewski, MTSU peer career ambassador, at the university’s Career Development Center on Sept. 8, 2021. The center helped Gaines obtain her full-time probation officer position in Marshall County, Tennessee. (MTSU photo by Stephanie Barrette)

Ikeia Gaines, right, recent Middle Tennessee State University master’s graduate, gets help from Jason Wasilewski, MTSU peer career ambassador, at the university’s Career Development Center on Sept. 8, 2021. The center helped Gaines obtain her full-time probation officer position in Marshall County, Tennessee. (MTSU photo by Stephanie Barrette)

Gaines soon realized she could use the center’s services right away — over a year before she was set to graduate. With the center’s support, Gaines obtained a full-time position as a probation officer in Marshall County, Tennessee.

“I have been able to expand my experience within the criminal justice field as well as learn different things about the justice system,” she said. “I’ve been working for a year and a half, and I’m super grateful to be enjoying the opportunities I was given.”

Gaines recommends an early-start approach, concurrent with studies, to all students.

“You should start early,” she encouraged, “even with internships. That way you are gaining enough experience, so when the time comes to graduate, you will have fulfilled the minimum experience requirements.”

Holly Allen, career advisor at Middle Tennessee State University’s Career Development Center, right, meets with Ikeia Gaines, a recent MTSU master’s graduate, to offer career advice on Sept. 8, 2021, at the on-campus center. (MTSU photo by Stephanie Barrette)

Holly Allen, career advisor at Middle Tennessee State University’s Career Development Center, right, meets with Ikeia Gaines, a recent MTSU master’s graduate, to offer career advice on Sept. 8, 2021, at the on-campus center. (MTSU photo by Stephanie Barrette)

Gaines also said her experience with the center was great.

“They were understanding and welcoming!” she said. “Having someone help you who is honest, reliable and works in a timely manner is a great resource to have. I received great feedback and resources to use to even further my career…. I still utilize the Career Center Portal (now) to search for part-time positions that are available.”

To learn more about the Career Development Center’s ample services and receive online support immediately, visit the website at https://mtsu.edu/career/ and follow the center on Instagram and Facebook.

— Stephanie Barrette (Stephanie.Barrette@mtsu.edu)


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