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Get to Know Sullivan Career & Life Planning Center With Laurie Cirillo

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Bay Path University’s Sullivan Career and Life Planning Center (SCLP) encourages mindful career development through a variety of initiatives, inside and outside the classroom. From mock interviews to lifetime customized coaching benefits, students and alumni enjoy numerous benefits aimed at ensuring lifelong success. So, what are those benefits and how can Bay Path community members take advantage of them? Laurie Cirillo, Executive Director of Career and Life Planning, shed some light on SCLP’s vast resources:

SCLP provides a variety of services to Bay Path students and graduates. What services are offered specifically to undergraduate students?

The entrance experience for most traditional undergraduate students begins with their personal career coach, assigned to them based on their major field of study. That student and coach stay together through the student’s entire academic experience. The coach champions the student and ensures that the next step in the student’s professional journey is in place upon Commencement, whether that’s graduate school or a job placement.  

Describe the undergraduate student’s career prep journey at Bay Path.

Students first meet their career coach through WEL100, where the coach helps the student build confidence in their major, or, for exploratory students, develop confidence in declaring a major. This is done through activities in class, individual career coaching appointments, and career and networking events--a signature foundational career program at Bay Path. Students are also required to take WEL310 which is the mid-program core of our WELL program. That course focuses on answering the questions: who am I? What are my strengths and competencies? What am I inspired to do with my career? How do I present myself? Students practice their mock interview skills, build personal statements, set up LinkedIn profiles, write resumes or CVs, customize cover letters, and get business cards, and then have all of those documented in a career portfolio once the course is done. Also, 99% of students are required to complete a four-credit internship. Their coach assists in matching them with an internship site around junior year, which culminates in a student reflection of learning. Internships are tied to the goals of the major, so students graduate with relevant real-world career experience.

How about graduate students?

There are three primary ways that graduate students can take advantage of SCLP: customized individual career coaching; attending career networking events, where many serve as panelists sharing their experiences in our graduate programs and networking; and, third, we assist them with job searching as well. Just recently, I met with a cybersecurity graduate student looking to get more career experience on her resume. So, I connected her with a local staffing firm who was looking for temporary cybersecurity workers--what better way to get experience on your resume while searching for the next step in your career?

How can alumni benefit from SCLP?

Similar to our graduate students, alumni receive customized career coaching, assistance with job searching, network opportunities, serve as panelists at career networking events, and function as mentors for our students as well. Alumni are often invited in to speak in the classroom by our faculty chairs, who maintain strong relationships with them.

Beyond classroom learning and individualized career coaching, how does SCLP ensure student success?

One of our primary responsibilities is to assist students finding work on- and off-campus during the time that they’re with us. We want our students to be able to come back each semester and minimize stress over the financial aspect of college to the extent possible. Most of our students work upwards of 20-30 hours per week in addition to their course load--they’re very busy.

We offer students at all levels and alumni free lifetime access to our Carpe Diem Career Network, which is a virtual career network powered by Handshake. From small businesses to Fortune companies, more than 300,000 employers post jobs to this network. 700 colleges and universities utilize this network for their career centers, and we love that our students and alums have access to their career center opportunities as well.

During the year, we offer seven different career networking events across every major field of study, with panels of professionals working in the field. Around 50 professionals per year participate, giving students a window into a variety of career outcomes. After the panel presentation, attendees have the chance to sit with panelists for further discussion. This ties in with our overall approach to supporting students--we believe networking is the key to success. On a daily basis, we connect students with alumni, board members, donors, faculty, and staff to learn about different career paths and get connections for interviews.

Finally, undergraduate students including those enrolled through The American Women’s College can take advantage of our Professional Image Fund. Generously funded by donor and trustee Mary Ann Spencer for over 15 years, this fund allows undergraduates with a high financial need to participate in a personal shopping experience and purchase professional outfits. About 50-60 students a year are selected from a financial aid lottery to benefit from the program. We’ve also been working with the Advancement team to raise money for an unpaid internship fund, which we’re very proud to offer. Students completing internships in fields such as psychology or education often do so at nonprofits and are unpaid. This fund awards over $30,000/year total to about 15 students for unpaid internships. We’re in the process of growing the fund and hope to grow the number of students who benefit over time.

What other opportunities are available to the Bay Path community through the career center?

In early 2019, we will be launching a career transition series geared toward alumni and members of the community, in partnership with Johnson & Hill Staffing. Andrea Hill-Cataldo, President of the company, is a member of our Board of Trustees, Chair of the Advisory Council, and has been a mentor of mine for many years. This new program will theme around five career development topics and be offered on the first Monday night of each month, February-June.