Career Center director earns award for expanding students opportunities
It’s never too early to plan for a successful future, said Suzanne Billington, director of the University of Idaho Career Center.
“Don’t wait until your senior year to think about professional and career development,” Billington said.
Billington, who is also the part-time director for Academic Support and Access Programs (ASAP), was recently selected as a co-recipient of the Leadership in Career Development Award, given by the Idaho Department of Labor’s Career Information System (CIS) and the Idaho Career Development Association (ICDA).
Billington received the recognition for expanding the capabilities of the Career Center, which helps students who are unfamiliar with career development and the job search process find internships and careers.
She was presented with the award at the Idaho Career Development Association annual conference on April 3.
Her efforts and the efforts of her team, she said, are allowing the university to better help students be successful in getting the experiences they need to complement their education at UI.
Billington said the Career Center assists students and alumni in marketing themselves well in the competitive job market. She said she knows students are eager to improve themselves, but it’s not always easy.
Billington was nominated for the award by university faculty including Nicole Campbell, a career advising specialist at the Career Center. Although Billington is happy to have received the award, she said it was a team effort.
“This award really should have been for the entire office,” she said. “It’s all of the staff we have on board that do the hands on work.”
Billington said she is happy with the work she’s done at the Career Center so far, although there is much more to do.
Last fall, Billington said she started working with former Vice Provost of Student Affairs Dean Bruce Pitman doing research to see what resources UI students needed most from the Career Center. She talked with colleagues at UI and visited other universities to see what their priorities were and reworked them to fit the needs of UI. She said she has also met with administrators and student groups.
With this information, Billington said the Career Center was able to submit a funding proposal through the university president to the Idaho Legislature that is still pending passage.
One of the issues Billington said she’d like to tackle in the future is increasing personnel within in the Career Center. She said the center has just three career advisors, one of whom is only part time.
Billington said the number needs to be higher. She said she is certain more students need career advising, and funding for more staff is the major limiting factor in serving more students.
“Right now, our advising staff serves about 10 to 15 percent of the student population,” she said.
Billington said she first became interested in career advising through her own experience looking for a job. Billington said when she was in college she didn’t do the job hunting she wished she had, and doesn’t want current students to make the same mistakes.
“Students who effectively plan ahead will be in better shape,” she said. “They will be very competitive for all the jobs they apply for, and they’ll have a leg up.”
Getting a college degree is not the only thing a student can do to make getting a job easier, she said.
To gain an advantage, graduates should show a resume with experience that complements their degree, such as internships or volunteer experience, she said.
“I really enjoy working with the college student population,” she said. “I find it rewarding.”
Nishant Mohan can be reached at email@example.com