Bulldog Bites

News and Views from the University of Redlands

Students helping students

Under the guidance of Associate Director for Career Strategy & Integration Lauren Wooster (third right), students Ray Pitale '23 (second right) and Sofia Mier '22 (right) offer advice to students who have career-related questions during Fireside Chats, a casual weekly event series at the East Hall fire pit. (Photo by Carlos Puma)

Office of Career and Professional Development (OCPD) Peer Career Educators Ray Pitale ’23 and Sofia Mier ’22 host Fireside Chats, a new event series geared toward answering student questions about all things professional. The pair meet weekly with students at the East Hall fire pit and discuss career topics, from finding internships and job openings to quelling concerns about resume formats and upcoming interviews. Katie Olson of the Bulldog Blog spoke with the duo about OCPD’s cozy new networking strategy.

Bulldog Blog: What does a peer career educator do?

Sofia Mier ’22: We help students with anything career-related. That can mean helping with their resumes, prepping them for interviews, writing cover letters, or even applying to grad school. Now we’re hosting Fireside Chats, and each event is focused on a different topic. Students can just stroll in. It’s an environment that is less intimidating than coming into the OCPD.

Ray Pitale ’23: We also help students with anything that’ll affect their future careers and goals. Even with picking majors—we can answer how your major relates to a career and other questions regarding that decision.

BB: Why did you want to get involved with OCPD?

Pitale: I joined the staff in the fall of 2019. I first joined because I was looking for opportunities to improve my career-related skills. I took a class in high school that focused on networking, interview skills, resumes—I had this knowledge that I wanted to grow and share.

Mier: It was similar for me. I had been coming into the OCPD since my sophomore year. They helped me with things that my professors and friends couldn’t, and as a first-generation student, I can’t go to my parents. So, I really appreciated the office. The more I was involved, the more I saw that I was learning from the staff, so I applied and was hired to help students.

BB: How have OCPD staff members helped you with career resources?

Pitale: Before I was a peer career educator, I came in and talked to [OCPD Executive Director Kelly Dries] about my resume. I’m currently applying to internships, and when I start the interview process, I will definitely ask the staff for some guidance. I’ve also had a mock interview with [Associate Director for Career Strategy & Integration Lauren Wooster], and it was helpful to get that feedback.

Mier: I came in as a sophomore wanting help with my resume and saw posters for events and workshops. I got involved with the Career Treks in L.A. and Seattle. They also helped me get an internship that evolved into a job, and now they’re helping me look at my job offer letter and how to negotiate it. They’ve helped me at different points in my life, which is cool. It can be scary to do it all alone.

Students can also visit Pitale and Mier in the Office of Career and Professional development in Armacost 116. (Photo by Carlos Puma)

BB: You are both hosting OCPD’s Fireside Chats series. Tell me about these events and their objectives.

Pitale: The Fireside Chats are a way for us to open discussions with students about certain topics that get brought up a lot in the Career Studio. We can help answer questions and we can provide suggestions. The chats are a way for our office to interact with the entire campus rather than just students coming to us one at a time. It’s also an opportunity to let them know about our services and what we do here.

BB: What are some of the different topics you’re addressing during future Chats?

Mier: We just had our vision board workshop—that one was super cool—and our next one is about summer internships. We also have chats planned for applying to grad school, workplace dress codes, and a resume Q&A. We have an activity that helps students identify their values in the workplace and desired work-life balance, too. We wanted to expand the office beyond its boundaries to reach students who might not be making appointments to come in.

BB: What sort of questions are students asking?

Mier: Sophomores often come in needing help picking and planning for their majors. But I think the best thing we help students with is interview tips. You can always practice with friends, but our professional staff does a great job of preparing you for answering hard questions in a safe environment where you’re able to try a few times to get the right answer.

Pitale: We get a lot of questions about internships, too—where to find more information and how to apply. Now that students are applying for internships and grad school, we’re reading their applications to make sure that they’re getting their points across. We also answer many questions about resumes—information that should be included, what employers want to see, and how to incorporate information into a cover letter.

BB: When students leave your Fireside Chats, how are you hoping they feel?

Mier: Every student is different—you never know who is going to come in or what their questions will be. I just want to make sure they know about our resources. We’re also trying to guide students to our website if they don’t necessarily want to come in because it has a lot of valuable information.

Pitale: We hope that they feel like they had their questions answered and that they have some guidance. We also want them to know that if they have follow-up questions, they can always come into our office and we’d be happy to answer them. In general, we just want them to have some peace of mind and know that we’re here to help them, and they’re not alone in this process of career searching.

Learn more about the Office of Career and Professional Development.