This week, as we enter Fall both on campus and virtually, Career and Professional Development aims to help our Zags prepare for a successful semester considering the new virtual environment. To help provide some guidance in tackling this, we talked with O. Ray Angle, Assistant Vice President for Career & Professional Development, who gave us some advice and suggestions for utilizing the CPD this semester.
Hi Ray! To start off, what is some background on your experience and what led you down this career path?
I’ve been working in college career services for about 30 years now, and what really led me down the path was when I was in college, I changed majors quite a bit, and went to two different schools. It took me 5 years to get through college, and in my third year of college, my advisor suggested I go see if I could get a job in the Career Center. For three years I worked in the Career Center and realized that it was the kind of work that I wanted to do. I’ve done college career services across the nation in the Midwest, the East and the West, California, North Carolina, all over, and have worked for Gonzaga for five years.
How would you describe your position within CPD?
My role is to make sure that we are living out the mission of our office, which is to help students clarify and attain their educational and career goals. I make sure that everybody on the team that I work with has the resources, the information, and the support that they need to do that.
No day-to-day is ever the same, [and] I’m oftentimes in meetings talking about programmatic and logistical issues, budget one moment, a student who’s dealing with a challenging issue related to their current development, a weekly one on one meeting with a staff member, or interacting with professionals from across the nation who do this work in our professional associations and different collaborative efforts.
What are some of the ways in which you have seen your position shift in response to COVID-19?
It’s similar to what the entire University has experienced. What’s unique about us is that since we’re supporting students in their career development, pretty much everything we can do online. Our major things are on campus recruiting, job postings, and Treks. We made the transition fairly seamlessly and are also in the process of moving our career services management platform from Handshake to ZagsIgnite. We also launched a new platform that allows us to do all our career fairs online.
For returning students, what are the ways in which the CPD has changed in the services they provide this semester in comparison to previous semesters?
One of the big concerns we’ve had is for the graduating class of 2020. With the previous class  we witnessed one of the best employment markets ever, and so now we’re trying to do extra things to help the class of 2020. Continuing to serve them and alums for as long as they want to use our services and making sure that all the other services that we moved online are working well with the technology.
We did volunteer this year to teach a couple of classes: One on the job search, and one on getting into Graduate School, and that’s new for us. We may end up teaching it again next semester, and each is a one credit course. I’m teaching one of them, University 420, Section 1, and it is basically a next step in the job search process if you’re getting ready to graduate.
The number one service that I think we provide is the one on one career coaching experience because that helps students individually figure out what their next steps are, and I have really enjoyed being able to deliver that service online because I can show technology platforms more easily.
How would a student go about setting up a one-on-one career coaching experience?
All they really need to do is to go into ZagsIgnite, and there is a place where you can make an appointment with a career coach based upon the topic that you’re interested in.
New students on campus this year are already experiencing many firsts simultaneously with the new policies the rest of us are undergoing. What is your biggest piece of career and networking advice for these individuals?
Don’t be afraid to think about and start taking steps toward what your career path is. I always tell people; you start looking for a job the day you start college. I would say meet people who do the work you’d like to do, talk to them about that work, make sure you’re getting experience in that field, and that you’re that you have a plan for moving forward with that. We’re here to help with that.
For students who didn’t return to campus this semester, how can they still take advantage of CPD’s resources?
Pretty much every resource we have is available online. Make a conscious effort to connect with all the friends that you would have connected with while you were here via zoom, or whatever platform works best for you.
From our perspective, you can have access to everything that you need. Maybe not the building that we work in, but we’re not even in it. Try to stay connected in other ways and certainly stay connected with us. We’re happy to chat with people anytime they want to talk by making an appointment with us.
We do have a platform called ZagsConnect, which is kind of our own LinkedIn platform. Log into ZagsConnect, make a profile and start looking at some of the alums and friends of the University who are on there and start reaching out. Maybe they even live in an area close to you and you could meet for coffee, and you can always reach out to Erin Shields in our office as well and see if she can locate an alum in the area where you’re living that you could develop a Mentor- mentee relationship with.
Is there anything else you’d like students to know about CPD?
Make sure that you’re following us on social media, looking in ZagsIgnite for the things that are coming up, and just because you’re remote doesn’t mean you can’t participate in them. You can come to our career fairs, attend our tracks, and meet with a staff member. We’re just really a warm group of caring individuals who want to make sure that you are successful.
If you are interested more in Ray, ZagsIgnite, ZagsConnect, or any other resources provided by the CPD, feel free to check out any of the following links. Thanks so much to Ray for giving an insight as to how this semester is working at the CPD!