The Collegian
Wednesday, October 05, 2022

Students visit the new CDC

Collegian Reporter

The Career Development Center's new location Tyler Haynes Commons' third floor has been open for only a few weeks, but already students have been making the trip up to visit.

Construction continues on parts of the third floor, but amid the ladders and workers is the new CDC, locating behind inviting glass windows and doors.

With the walls painted orange, green and yellow, the new space -- where the President's Dining Room used to be -- is calming and has windows overlooking Westhampton Lake, giving the room an open feel.

Leslie Stevenson, director of the CDC, lists the facility's aesthetics as one of its advantages over the former location in the basement of Richmond Hall. She said she has heard positive reactions from alumni and students, like the professionalism it evokes. Stevenson also said she overheard a senior in the facility saying "how amazing the space was," comparing it to the renovations of the Heilman Dining Center and the Recreation and Wellness Center.

Along with its looks, the CDC has become more accessible with its move to the Commons.

"I've been here for two years," Stevenson said, "for the first time we had a student who uses a wheelchair in on the day we opened. That was never possible [in the old location]."

Stevenson, along with Jenny Pedraza, the CDC's communications manager, was enthusiastic about features of the facility.

Both are fans of its openness.

"This place just feels like 'come in,' or at least it feels that way to me," Stevenson said.

Pedraza said she believed it would draw in more students because it would make them feel comfortable. She wanted students to come in and take advantage of the resources the CDC offered, such as library with books on careers, different brochures and handouts advertising career preparation events.

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The library also serves as a waiting area for students, with comfortable chairs and free coffee and tea. Students can also get peer advising during walk-in hours from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays.

Another advantageous feature of the new facility is the video conferencing system in one of the interview rooms, something that benefits employers and is available at only a few other schools. Often, if they're unable to visit the university, they still have the ability to interview students.

Pedraza said the facility offered more room for employers and created "a professional, really top-of-the-line university presence for outside employers coming to recruit" students.

CDC staff members said the number of students visiting the CDC had already increased from last year, even before it moved to the Commons. Pedraza said this was because of newly hired staff members, and the convenience of being where there's already a lot of student traffic would help continue the increases.

The move has helped to improve staff chemistry, too. In Richmond Hall, the CDC was divided between two levels, but Pedraza said: "The staff really has this collaborative synergy now."

It's not just the staff members, but also the peer advisers who praise the new location.

Senior Laura Musser, a peer adviser in the library Wednesday nights as well as during walk-in hours on Fridays, said she thought more students would visit the CDC in the Commons than in Richmond Hall because it had been "tucked away" in the old location.

"The Commons is a lot more happening," Musser said, "so I think it's showing a step toward the CDC becoming a more prominent resource for students ... I think it's kind of a symbolic thing also, but very practical."

Elena Kostova, a senior who came in during walk-in hours for help with applying to graduate school, said, "I think it's all the same, at least to me." But she acknowledged the new space was much nicer than it had been in Richmond Hall.

The CDC has planned to increase student visits with a special opening week that will be held during walk-in hours Nov. 17-21 because the space isn't fully completed yet, Pedraza said. T-shirts and other items will be given away and it will give students who have never been before an opportunity to come.

"A lot of good things are going on," she said. "I think the space is the visible embodiment of all the exciting things."

Contact staff writer Elizabeth Hyman at elizabeth.hyman@richmond.edu

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