Published June 2018
Written by Laura Henschel
Patrice Crooms gets it. Prior to becoming an Assistant Director for Career & Industry Engagement with the newly-named and renovated Career Connections Center (CCC), she found herself back home after getting her undergraduate degree in Marketing and Business Administration, supporting her family, without a clear idea of how to use her degree, what she wanted in life, or what the big picture was. Does this sound familiar, those of you feeling lost on your academic path?
After getting into subbing at public schools in Jacksonville, Crooms moved into education, teaching middle-school children for seven years before earning her master’s degree and moving into graduation planning and retention resources for college students. The rest is history—Crooms has been with the CCC for eight months now, loving every moment of connecting with students and making an impact.
“There’s a huge disconnect between students stepping on campus and their career preparation,” Crooms said. “The time is really now to connect with what your career aspirations may be.”
Crooms is the first sitting liaison between the CCC and the Beaty Living Learning Community (IA LLC IGNITE) — a program designed to connect students in the Innovation Academy to their peers not only within their academic programming, but through living together, participating in community events at Beaty such as IA Faculty-Student mixers, embedded career planning, and “Ask Me Anything” discussion panels.
For IA students in particular, the CCC is appealing to students that don’t want to settle down in a 9-to-5. Instead, the Center is research-driven, changing the way career coaches interact with the demand of the economy and the needs of students.
“We highly promote job crafting. If it doesn’t exist, we are helping you craft what your path can look like,” Crooms said. “We embrace that you are not alone in preparing for an unconventional career.”
The center itself has been nationally-recognized as the best career services department in the country, according to Princeton Review in 2012. Because of this, Gator graduates are found in careers in every state in the country and in over 135 countries.
While navigating the undergraduate process, Crooms stressed the importance of treating the CCC just like an academic advisor—a place to come several times a year for counsel. “This is not a one-time ordeal. It’s a process—as you matriculate through your undergrad or grad, we are here through the whole process, every step.”
Crooms saved her most important piece of advice to IA students for last. “To quote our Director, Ja’Net Glover, experience changes everything. With connecting with our center, you gain access to those impactful experiences—things like resume review, co-ops, research, and internships-- and it will manifest into ultimate career success.”