Career Advising & Professional Development is piloting a new peer program for the 2019-20 academic year, and hired the first cohort of Peer Career Advisors (PCAs) to support fellow MIT students on their career journeys. The inaugural group of Peer Career Advisors, represent several departments/programs, and include Yasmin Chavez (Meng, Course 2), Rui Chen (PhD, Course 2-OE), Danielle Grey-Stewart (undergraduate in Course 3), Elise Harrington (PhD, Course 11), and Angela Zhang (MD-PhD).
PCAs attended orientation in early September and were trained by CAPD staff to assist fellow MIT undergraduate and graduate students with a number of career-related needs, such as resumes and cover letters, graduate school applications, career exploration, and the job/internship search. As MIT students themselves, PCAs offer a unique perspective to the students they meet with.
After an initial period of observing and then co-leading career appointments with CAPD staff, PCAs are now holding their own individual 30-minute appointments with students, and have conducted over 50 appointments since late-September. Though most meetings occur at CAPD, PCAs have been hosting a smaller number of appointments in public spaces across campus, and outside of normal business hours, to increase availability and access to career services. Next semester we will be testing drop-in career appointments with PCAs, from both CAPD and other locations on campus.
Peer Career Advisors receive regular ongoing training in relevant career topics such as internship search strategies and job offer negotiation. They are also encouraged to participate in CAPD programs, events, and projects that will increase their knowledge and skills to better assist their peers, as well as support them in their own personal career and professional development.
In addition to building stronger connections between CAPD and the MIT student body, a goal of the program is to increase accessibility by providing additional opportunities for students to get the career support and guidance they need. For many MIT students, career exploration can be overwhelming, and for some, it is difficult to make career exploration and planning a priority when they are pressed for time. Our hope is that the PCA program will further help to de-mystify career services, normalize career exploration, reduce barriers, and model that it is okay to ask for help.
—Libby Doucet, CAPD