SMC’s Best Kept Secret
An internship that leads to a job: It’s every student’s dream. The Santa Monica College Career Services Center (CSC) helped make that dream a reality for Moises Quintero, who came to SMC from Animo Venice Charter High School.
“I learned about the Career Services Center as a First Year Experience (FYE) student,” said Moises. FYE partners with the CSC’s career counselors to help students sort out career interests and develop strategies to accomplish career goals.
A music major more interested in the music business than in music theory, Moises credits his counselor Deanna Gurrola, who “helped me see how I could realize my goal by majoring in communication.”
Through the CSC, Moises was offered an internship with Exposition Rehearsal Studios in the West LA/Palms area, and was soon hired part time to help with social media and outreach.
Services from the CSC are available to every student at SMC. The CSC offers internships, workshops on resume writing, help on interview skills, an on- and off-campus jobs database, and the all-important gateway opportunities presented at the internship and job fairs on campus.
Through the CSC’s Applied Learning Program, career counselors also work with SMC faculty members to place students into service learning opportunities in the community, such as helping with activities through WISE and Healthy Aging, a Santa Monica nonprofit that provides services to seniors.
And in Spring 2017—after providing advance coaching on making a strong impression with a two-minute “elevator pitch” and dressing for success—the CSC took more than 75 SMC students to the “Your Turn Internship Expo” at the LA Convention Center.
“You’ll find out immediately…what direction you should take. And you’ll develop a strong relationship with your counselors, because they are there for you and really want you to succeed.”
– SMC Student Hermele Bekele
To give SMC students real-world work experience, the CSC has developed extensive relationships with companies offering internships and job opportunities.
At Populus Brands—the production company that created the Emmy-nominated CW-TV show “Save Our Shelter,” dedicated to renovating animal shelters—SMC students are learning about the entertainment industry and branding.
According to Populus’ internship coordinator Liz Tapang, students “mirror what we do at the company: creating a brand from scratch, executing a social media campaign, doing marketing research, outreach, and cost analysis, and learning how to use analytics.” And when Populus hires, the company looks to its interns first.
The CSC also offers Counseling 12, Career Planning, a self-assessment course that includes the Myers-Briggs personality test. Elsewhere, said Jenna Gausman, Interim Faculty Leader of CSC, “services like these can cost $150 per hour or more.” At SMC, students pay $46 for the class and $30 for the test.
“I learned so much about my strengths, weaknesses, and skills,” said communication major Hermele Bekele, who was born in Ethiopia, raised in the U.S., and is taking a full course load at SMC. Counseling 12, she said, inspired her to change her career goal from broadcasting to earning a Master’s degree in human development and becoming a career counselor.
The CSC paired Hermele—with her strong leadership and interpersonal skills—with Stanton and Company Public Relations for an internship starting in Fall 2017.
Hermele advises new students to take full advantage of the CSC as soon as they arrive on campus. “The CSC is located right there in the Welcome Center. You’ll find out immediately what classes you need and the direction you should take. And you’ll develop a strong relationship with your counselors, because they are there for you and really want you to succeed.”