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Career and Academic Planning Experts Offer Advice for Student Success

October 15, 2019

Fisher’s Center for Career and Academic Planning (CCAP) serves as a one-stop shop for students seeking advice and counseling as they map their academic journey. Located on the first floor of Lavery Library, the Center is staffed by professional advisors available for walk-in meetings or one-on-one appointments.

CCAP leaders Michelle Erklenz-Watts and Julia Overton-Healy

Fisher Family News sat down with CCAP leaders Michelle Erklenz-Watts and Julia Overton-Healy to learn more about the services available to undergraduates and how parents can best help their students as they progress along their academic path.

FFN: CCAP staff members offer double the knowledge and are able to help students with academic and career planning. How does this dual expertise offer students an extra edge as they move through their four years at Fisher?

JOH: By blending these two elements, Fisher has created a seamless support experience for students. Working with our advisors, students receive guidance and wisdom to help them make decisions about how they integrate their studies with their career dreams. It is synthesis planning. Students can get help from any advisor instead of waiting for a “specialist” to be available.

MEW: We pride ourselves on having individually unique relationships with each student.  This effort is even better now that we can serve the student from course planning to internships to graduation and beyond.  We offer the students more personalized, authentic, and meaningful in- and out-of-class experiences because we truly know who they are and what they would like to be.

FFN: How could meetings with CCAP advisors complement meetings with academic advisors?

MEW: The academic advisors know their discipline very well and are the best planners and mentors within the major. CCAP advisors have insight into majors across all five Schools.  If a student is considering changing a major, adding a minor, or just wants to talk about academic opportunities outside of the major (for example, what core courses would be best for me?), CCAP advisors are a great resource for students.

FFN: With the creation of The Fisher Edge, the College invested in cutting-edge software, including Cardinal Connections, Handshake, UAchieve, and FisherLink. What do each of these bring the academic and career advising staff, and how can students leverage these platforms to articulate and achieve their academic and career goals?

MEW: FisherLink helps students connect and communicate with their instructors and support staff.  At any moment, students have the capability of sending a message or making an appointment with someone in their success network. UAchieve will be most useful as students build their schedule.  It helps students stay on track with the requirements of the College and their major/minor.

JOH: Handshake is one of the most powerful tools students have to access job and internship postings from our partner employers, on-campus interviewing days, employer visit days, career events, and more. Cardinal Connections is also an extraordinary opportunity for students to connect with alumni, selected employers, and families for networking. It’s the Fisher version of Linkedin.

FFN: What’s one thing a student can do to help jump start their academic and career exploration?

MEW: Set up a one-on-one meeting with their advisor or do go their department meetings in their major or potential major and ask that exact question.  Talk to different experts and get their advice then take action. We also have a Career Support Specialist who works with transfer, graduate level, and new alumni who are navigating life after Fisher, so we’re here to support students at any part of their journey through Fisher.

FFN: Students will be registering for classes soon. What are two questions they should be asking their faculty and academic and career advisors?

JOH: From the career perspective, I’d like to hear them asking, “How can I get some pre-career experiences during the winter break, or even plan for next summer?” and “Can you help me get my résumé together and begin to build my professional brand?”

MEW: One initial question students should ask is:  “Am I still on track with my academic pathway?” These are the course progressions of guaranteed classes to keep The Fisher Edge process moving.  Another question students should be thinking about is: “What experiences—coursework, internships, study abroad—should I/could I take advantage of to enhance my learning and opportunities for better clarity of my choices in graduate schools or a career?”

FFN: What services or resources would you encourage students to take advantage of to help address issues of time management?

MEW: Time management, or task management, is a big challenge for students, especially first-year students. First, use an electronic or paper planner. The Writing Center and Tutoring Center offer workshops throughout the semester to master task management and CCAP advisors can work with students to find the strategy that best matches the student’s style.

FFN: What’s the best way to connect with CCAP advisors?

JOH: Students can use FisherLink for online access to make appointments with CCAP advisors; they can also use our walk in hours for quick help; or they can call our office.