The Day 1 Advantage at SNHU: Career Support from the Start
When Jennifer Langley ’16 returned to school in her 30s, she wasn’t feeling fulfilled in her career. She needed more options, so she sought help from her career advisor, Leonard Bell.
Fast-forward seven years, and Langley’s settled into a role she said “has filled my soul every single day.” She’s a career advisor at Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU), working alongside Bell, who is now a team lead, to assist students in search of career support.
“I love celebrating moments with learners and helping them realize there is a huge world of resources out there that can help them reach their goals and that I am here to help, guide, coach and cheer them on,” she said.
Langley is one of over 80 SNHU Career Services team members dedicated to the preparedness and success of the university’s students and alumni.
Within the team, there are four main groups.
1. Career Advising
When you think of a career services team, the work of a career advisor is probably what comes to mind. Career advisors such as Langley assist students and alumni every day in areas such as, but not limited to:
- Building a professional network
- Considering degree and career path alignment
- Creating a resume and cover letter
- Preparing for interviews and salary negotiations
- Seeking out professional development and experiential learning opportunities to fill gaps
“Sometimes my role is just listening and helping a learner as their sounding board,” Langley said. “Each student, each call, each email are always unique to the learner.”
SNHU’s campus in Manchester, New Hampshire, also has a dedicated team of advisors in its Career and Professional Development Center. Tracy Micali, its associate director, said her team’s goal is to help students think about and plan for post-graduation, as well as grow their confidence as professionals. In addition to one-on-one appointments, her team teaches "Professional Communication and Career Planning" and visits clubs and organizations across campus with the mission of meeting students where they are.
“A big part of those conversations is trying to encourage students to step outside their comfort zone,” Micali said. “Whether that is through attending a career fair or applying to an internship to test the waters in a role and industry they have an interest (in), it all begins by taking that first step. We encourage students to get curious, talk to people and try stuff.”
While you can tap into career advising resources at any point during your time at SNHU, Langley and Micali agree that the earlier you do, the better.
“We try to encourage students to visit our office early and often so that we can have conversations about their career interests and help them to make decisions about their future,” Micali said. “The sooner a student visits our office to meet with a career advisor and learn about the many ways we can support them and help them to navigate their SNHU experience, the better.”
2. Career Engagement
The Professional Communication and Career Planning courses Micali’s team teaches aren’t the only SNHU courses focusing on career development. A team of career engagement partners works closely with academic leadership across the university to ensure programs are built with the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) career-readiness competencies in mind.
These competencies include:
- Career and self-development
- Critical thinking
- Equity and inclusion
The chance to embed these competencies into programs is what brought Sonja Moffett, PHR, MS.HRM, MBTi, GCDF, to her role as a career engagement partner.
She knows many students return to school to grow their professional opportunities, and her team helps to foster that growth. “As a career engagement partner, we contribute to transforming lives at scale by equipping students with experiences and competencies needed to compete against candidates with the same degrees and perhaps more experience,” Moffett said.
She does this in three main ways:
- Planning and implementing experiential learning programs
- Developing career-related video resources
- Integrating professional development into curriculum
Moffett also teaches a human resources class called “Creating the Employee Experience,” which incorporates real-world case studies. As an instructor, she said she has witnessed the impact of this career-focused approach to education.
One of her students, Megan Poe, found the course particularly useful.
Poe said she learned so much about HR's role in every aspect of an employee’s experience: from recruitment and the day-to-day to career progression and offboarding.
“The employee experience course has played a pivotal role in enhancing my contribution to both recruitment and retention strategies within (my) HR department,” said Poe, who works for a Kentucky school district. “Through this course, I have gained a deeper understanding of the critical factors that influence an individual's decision to join and remain with an organization.”
3. Employer Relations
There’s also a team of people with a pulse on employer trends that build partnerships with organizations, as well as create opportunities for students to network with employers in their field.
“At the heart of it, I’m a connector,” said Daisy Gillam, an SNHU employer relations partner for the New England region. “I listen to the wishes of SNHU students and the hiring needs of our employers and fill in the space in the middle.”
One of the aspects of an employer relations role is hosting events that bring employers and students together. Gillam recently hosted a series of events geared toward liberal arts majors and their career development in areas such as:
- Artificial intelligence
- Building portfolios
- Professional networking
“Even though I don’t have direct contact with students daily, I know that my work lets me make connections, educate students and set them up for success,” Gillam said. “I strive to be the sort of resource that I would have benefitted from when I was first in college, and this work allows me to do just that.”
Joy Richards, an employer relations specialist in SNHU’s Career and Professional Development Center, also sees herself as a bridge between employers and campus students.
“This looks like researching local organizations and companies and their job and internship opportunities as they apply to our on-campus programming and creating opportunities for the employers and students to connect,” she said.
On campus, Richards said these opportunities for face-to-face time between employers and students look like:
- Career fairs and on-campus interviews
- Class presentations
- Industry nights
- Panels and information sessions
- Postings in an online career portal
“I love to see employers excited to engage with SNHU students and seeing students make connections with industry professionals, particularly when it’s SNHU alumni returning to campus to recruit at an event,” Richards said.
4. Internship Administration
As an internship administrator, Amreék Hector and his colleagues guide students interested in an internship. From providing search strategies and interview prep to reviewing resumes and cover letters, Hector said his role is all about helping students be the best internship candidates they can be.
Whether they’re interested in doing an internship for academic credit or not, Hector encourages students to connect with his team within their first few courses. The earlier a student meets with an internship administrator, the earlier they can start the search and be aware of any requirements and prerequisites needed.
Hector still recalls the first time he saw the impact of his role. He encountered a student with a solid cover letter and resume — but who had been turned down from multiple internship opportunities. “So my thought was: It had to be the interview,” he said.
He met with the student and coached her on how to best answer interview questions, and soon after, she called him back with good news. She landed the internship.
Internships are optional for many programs at SNHU, but a few have an experiential learning requirement — such as the bachelor’s in sport management. In programs like that, partnering with members of the Career Team can be especially helpful.
Heather A. Bartlett, for instance, is a fieldwork administrator who supports SNHU’s master’s in clinical mental health counseling program, which requires an internship. (SNHU is not currently enrolling students into the clinical mental health counseling program.) One of her tasks is to ensure internship and practicum experiences meet program requirements.
She likens her role to that of a success coach. “We are (dedicated) to nurturing learner skill development and career readiness for success in the workplace with employers and fostering the ability for learners to advocate for themselves with confidence,” Bartlett said.
Education at the Forefront
While each element of SNHU’s Career Services team has different focuses, they all share the responsibility of preparing students and alumni for career success. To help others succeed, the team needs to know what employers are looking for now and in the future. One way everyone stays up to date is through learning directly from organizations, said Eric Hall, an associate vice president of Career Services at SNHU.
“We will have these conversations on the books with our employer partners ... to have a better understanding of ... those workforce needs," Hall said, which helps his team better understand how to effectively prepare students.
This includes finding out what talent gaps employers see in their organization and among job candidates and leaning into them.
AI, for instance, is a big focus. “There’s a huge conversation now around AI, and how that is going to continue to fundamentally shift the dynamics of work and how can we have our students get out in front of that,” Hall said.
Creating Moments of Recognition, Celebration
Nearly a decade ago, when Career Services at SNHU had roughly two dozen team members, a tradition involving a bell began.
When an SNHU student or graduate who worked with a career advisor would share that they landed a job, a bell rang out. This sound queued cheers and applause across the team.
After the COVID-19 pandemic shifted more of the team remote, this recognition remained — but it looks (and sounds) a little different.
The original bell lives on, on the desk of Career Services Director Nicholas Botto, but the celebration is now online, where every team member can participate. Career advisors now share achievements in a virtual environment where the rest of the team can see them and participate in the excitement through congratulatory messages and gifs of bells.
“It still is about celebrating and recognizing the successes with the student and with each other," Hall said.
Rebecca LeBoeuf Blanchette '18 '22G is a writer at Southern New Hampshire University, where she fulfills her love of learning daily through conversations with professionals across a range of fields. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Communication with a minor in Professional Writing from SNHU’s campus in Manchester, New Hampshire, and followed her love of storytelling into the online Master of Arts in English and Creative Writing at SNHU. Connect with her on LinkedIn.
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About Southern New Hampshire University
SNHU is a nonprofit, accredited university with a mission to make high-quality education more accessible and affordable for everyone.
Founded in 1932, and online since 1995, we’ve helped countless students reach their goals with flexible, career-focused programs. Our 300-acre campus in Manchester, NH is home to over 3,000 students, and we serve over 135,000 students online. Visit our about SNHU page to learn more about our mission, accreditations, leadership team, national recognitions and awards.