Let's Get to Work

Photo: Phil Dembinski '08
Associate Dean of Career Development and Industry Relations Erik Friedman talks jobs.

Finding a job is a serious task for students, and Erik Friedman is a serious advocate. The newly appointed associate dean of Career Development and Industry Relations comes to Columbia College Chicago from DePaul University and has 23 years of experience in career development. He’s got many goals for his work, and one of them is providing Columbia students with the resources they need to begin professional careers not after they graduate, but before they leave the college.

One of the ways to achieve those goals is through the new Career Center, which Friedman oversees. Located on the first floor of 618 S. Michigan Ave., the center is a combination of student employment, career development, industry relations and internship advising. “Students need to come here early and often,” Friedman says. He emphasizes the importance of planning for career experience as soon as students get to Columbia. “Students might not start an internship until their junior year, but they need to get started on a portfolio and other early engagement work.”

Friedman is realistic about the significance of internships in career and business-related fields. “Internships are the new entry-level job, and many professionals are getting hired directly at internship sites. We need to put programs in place for students to have experiential learning,” he says. The Career Center has designated areas for resume workshops or creating the websites to house digital portfolios in order to get internships. But the work doesn’t stop there.

“Students need to build not only a body of work, but the professional skills to complement that body of work,” says Friedman. Part of that professional skill comes from Columbia’s own expert faculty and staff. One of Friedman’s key messages is the essential relationship between expert and beginner, mentor and mentee, teacher and student. “Career development and employability aren’t just the responsibility of the center,” he says. “We need alumni to come back and give career advice to our students. We need department experts with industry connections to share knowledge.”

Friedman understands the demands of balancing a creative career with a professional one. He’s been a performing musician in Chicago for 16 years. “I’ve played in bands, recorded several albums. I feel like I can relate to the creative side.”

He says he’s excited to use his creative expertise and experience to move the Career Center forward. “I’m energized every day coming into work. I feel like I’ve been moving toward this role for a long time.”