New Career Center for Students to Launch in 2017

Photo: Phil Dembinski (BFA '08)
A new Career Center is currently in development, aiming to better help students connect with internships, career advising, industry leaders, and more.

More than ever, careers are in flux. Columbia College Chicago students, like other college students nationally, are eyeing internships and employment opportunities as they focus more and more on being “career-ready” when they graduate. Enter Columbia College Chicago’s new Career Center set to launch in Fall 2017.

The new Career Center is envisioned as a “one-stop shop” that combines the services currently offered by the Portfolio Center, Student Employment and Internship Coordinators in various departments into a centralized resource for all students. Although the full complement will not be operational for another year and a half, changes are already underway at the Portfolio Center, which will continue to be the “career hub” of the college until it officially changes over to the Career Center.

With first year priorities of the college’s Strategic Plan focused on curriculum and student experience, the new center will work toward strengthening the connection between Columbia College talent and industry leaders. This will also free up faculty who were previously tasked with the dual role of academic and career advising to focus more fully on academic mentorship. The Career Center advisors will act as career mentors to students and serve as a resource for academic departments.

Christie Andersen Asif, Executive Director of Career Initiatives, says that internship opportunities will remain the highest priority. “Creative industries are competitive and we need to respond to those demands. Because we will have a dedicated staff of industry leaders who can assist with finding internships, the new model is a better fit for the Columbia student,” says Asif.

Asif, who has over ten years of experience working with career development, has a distinct eye on what a real-world portfolio truly means. She wants students to combine their talents with modern-day career readiness. At other higher education institutions, career centers often house on-campus internships and host job fairs. With the kind of talent coming out of Columbia, Asif saw an opportunity to make stronger, more relevant pre-professional connections.

One of the new events that Asif and her team are debuting this spring is Immersion, a new series of engagement opportunities for students and industry professionals designed to connect students to their career fields.

Another new initiative is the Columbia Internship Award. This spring, 40 students received the inaugural award and another 30 students will receive the award for their summer internships. This unique award helps defray the expenses associated with most unpaid internships.

When Music Business Management Senior Aly Mitchell (BA ’16) found out about the new award, she eagerly applied. “The first thing I felt when I got the award notice was relief. I’m putting myself through school and financial aid is something I always have to keep in mind. Receiving this scholarship means tuition is covered and I can focus on producing quality work,” says Mitchell.

As the college moves into the second year of the implementation of the Strategic Plan, Asif continues to work on ongoing opportunities for students at all levels. All services are available to undergraduates, graduate students and newly minted alumni.

Soon, the Career Center will be an integrated part ot the Columbia student experience. “I’m deeply invested in making a more seamless transition for students going from the classroom into the professional world. It’s not about popping in on their last semester, polishing things up, and putting a ribbon on things. It’s about getting started on day one,” says Asif.

Currently located at 623 S. Wabash Ave. in Room 307, the Career Center (currently Portfolio Center) will be relocated to a new semi-permanent home later this year.