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Navigating College and Beyond with Wilkinson College Manager of Career Development, Erin Berthon

Close your eyes and picture two scenarios. You're a first-year student at Wilkinson College, feeling overwhelmed and unsure of how to get involved in campus life. Now, envision yourself as a second-semester senior, anxious about your future and what kind of job you can land with a creative writing degree or as a CCI minor. Fortunately, Erin Berthon, the Wilkinson College Manager of Career Development and Alumni Relations is ready to provide you with guidance and reassurance during every step of your journey– even after you graduate.

Erin Berthon is the Wilkinson College Manager of Career Development and Alumni Relations. Photo courtesy of Erin Berthon.

Erin Berthon is a passionate career development professional with 7 years of experience in higher education. Ms. Berthon’s background with Chapman University began with her work in the Office of Disability Services. She then moved to a position in the Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences where for the last 5 years she has served in the capacity of Career Advisor, and now Career Manager for Wilkinson students. As such, she is dedicated to helping students reach their highest potential by the end of their college journey. Berthon connects with new students to discuss the importance of getting involved on campus and exploring their desired industry, assists sophomores and juniors with internship opportunities, and offers guidance and support to seniors regarding post-graduation plans. She also provides tailored support to students through the HUM 229, the one-credit experimental career development course she teaches. Berthon is committed to helping students reach their educational and career goals from enrollment and beyond, which she kindly agreed to sit down and talk with us today for the blog.

## Start of Interview

PC: What is your experimental course; HUM 229: “Leading your Life, Managing your Career,” about?

EB: “HUM 229: Leading your Life, Managing your Career is an interdisciplinary course that provides students with the tools and knowledge needed to successfully navigate their professional journey. The course is designed to serve all Chapman students, regardless of their majors. To ensure I can provide the best experience for them, students will fill out a Google form so I can get an understanding of their majors and interests within the class. I strive to make sure that the course is beneficial to everyone, regardless of their year in school. For those in their first two years, I focus on internship preparation, while seniors learn skills such as networking and pay negotiation. Additionally, I bring in alumni to speak about their industries and help students make connections, as well as cover topics such as interviewing skills and understanding contracts. To further help the students, I provide an assessment to give them career recommendations that they may not have considered before. I also meet with them one-on-one to work on their resumes. By customizing the course to the students' needs, I hope to provide them with the skills they need to be successful.”

PC: When did you realize that a course like HUM 229 was necessary?

EB: “When I saw more students coming in to attend workshops with me and seeing all the blank stares when I spoke to seniors, I decided to take matters into my own hands and approach the dean about teaching a one unit course. She gave me the greenlight and my first time teaching the course was during interterm 2022. The class filled up and continued to do so for the following spring. As I learn what works and what doesn’t, I encourage my students to fill out their evaluations, which have provided me with valuable feedback. With each passing year, my course continues to get better and better.”

Berthon was inspired to spearhead her experimental course; HUM 229 after seeing the stress and anxieties her son was going through as a college senior.

“Additionally, the funny thing is my son recently graduated from Arizona State University last year and like many students, he was a typical procrastinator. Watching him experience the anxieties and stress of graduating and finding a job was a valuable experience for me when it came to helping my senior students, as I was able to empathize with their stress and anxiety. I talk with them about these feelings and help them understand the resources at their disposal. Soon enough recruiters start reaching out to them but before they get overly excited, I advise them to take their time and research the job– such as the pay and work-life balance and make sure to discuss mental health to ensure they are taking care of themselves.”

PC: What advice do you have for seniors navigating their last semester at Chapman?

EB: “My first piece of advice is to build a network of Chapman alumni who work in the field that you're interested in. Not only will these alumni be able to provide valuable insight on the industry and how to advance your career, but they also serve as mentors who are willing to help current students. Additionally, I encourage students to pursue internships, even if it isn't in their major. If you have an interest that isn't related to your major, don't be afraid to explore it and see where it takes you!”

Take advantage of Senior Week, happening April 24th-28th! Get resume help, network with alumni, and celebrate the hard work you've put in to your time as a student at Chapman.

"Additionally, this spring, Chapman is hosting the biggest career fair ever! Even if you don’t see something you’re interested in, remember that companies may be hiring for roles you don’t know about. Take a chance and practice your networking skills by getting your resume out there. Moreover, the university is planning a senior week which is coming up April 24th - 28th. On the Wednesday of that week, The Career Center will be having an event called, “ Just in Time.” We plan to bring in different companies and recruiters that have at least one open position. To make the most of this opportunity, Wilkinson College plans to host a panel of creative industry alumni, a senior drop-in with resumes and any individual questions, a workshop on pay negotiation, and a “Senior Toast” which will include appetizers, drinks and photos.”

“Finally, my last piece of advice for seniors is to make the most of every moment of your senior year. Cherish every memory and take it all in. As you look ahead to the future, remind yourself that your first job is not necessarily your last. It is simply a stepping stone to your next opportunity.”

PC: What resources are you typically surprised that students are unaware of?

EB: “All of them. Chapman University provides a range of resources to help students transition from student to professional. GoInGlobal is a job search website and internship resource for jobs in the U.S. and abroad. StandOut is an interview practice site with industry-specific questions to help prepare students to ace their interviews. These resources, including the ones below, can be used by students before and even after they graduate.”

Job Searching Resources

PC: What CCI-related strategies or resources have you discovered since working with CCI students in the last few years?

EB: “In recent years, CCI students have become more aware of their desired career paths. Whereas when CCI first began, the majority of students were interested in fashion classes, now they are able to use the minor to explore creativity as well as take advantage of internships offered through CCI. This has been the biggest shift I've noticed; the minor is giving students the opportunity to figure out what it is they truly want to do.”

## End of Interview

College can be an exciting time, but it can also be overwhelming. With this in mind, we encourage you to take advantage of the resources Chapman, Wilkinson College, and Career Development Manager Erin Berthon have to offer. Whether you're a first-year student exploring your options or a senior preparing for your last semester, we hope that this blog gave you some insight into the many resources and people available to support you wherever you are on your four-year journey.

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