To preface, no, CCPD is not the Corpus Christi Police Department. The CCPD, at Southwestern University, is the Center for Career and Professional Development, and this office is arguably one of the best aspects of the Southwestern Experience. Yes, this office assists students with constructing résumés, practicing mock interviews, and writing cover letters. However, it’s the extra things that SU’s CCPD does that separates them from all other campus career centers, which is why our CCPD continually ranks as one of the best in Texas

The basics

Southwestern students can schedule an appointment with the CCPD for just about anything related to applying to an internship, job, or graduate school—essentially anything pertaining to a potential future career. At its core, the friendly staff at the CCPD can help current students with résumés, CVs (curricula vitae), cover letters, and personal statements. The CCPD also offers mock interviews for students to polish their skills before their actual interviews for jobs or internships. For the student who may be undecided in what they want to major in or for the student who may not be sure what they want to do after they graduate (don’t worry, you’re not alone), the CCPD team can also help students decide on a major and identify career paths through advising appointments or even through self-assessment tools such as the TypeFocus Careers inventory. Craig Gilden, the internship and employment developer at the CCPD, says that it helps when students start coming to the CCPD early in their college career so the staff can help “set up a game plan [for the student] in terms of internships, people to contact, and jobs.” However, these things just scratch the surface level of all the things our CCPD offers to students. 

Southwestern students spent their summer interning with the Round Rock Express, the Houston Astro... Southwestern students spent their summer interning with the Round Rock Express, the Houston Astros Triple-A affiliate.

The extra mile

Our CCPD also provides students a lot more opportunities to enhance their experience at Southwestern and to improve their career paths. The CCPD puts on numerous internship and career events throughout the year at Southwestern that help students connect with employers, alumni, and other professionals who can give students advice and opportunities in students’ desired fields of work. They even offer to bus students to career fairs at other universities across Texas.

One such upcoming event is the inaugural SOAR Summit, happening in early January 2020. This two-day conference will provide Southwestern sophomores the opportunity to receive a tailored résumé, broaden their connections, and gain a head start on securing internships. 

The CCPD also offers other information sessions about graduate schools and employment opportunities to all students so that they can stay informed about how they can best prepare for life and a career after graduation. These sessions often feature alumni and professionals outside of Southwestern who come to campus to discuss these opportunities with students and answer any questions that students may have. Alexandra Anderson, the senior associate director at the CCPD, says that these are some of the most valuable things the CCPD offers. She adds, “We can teach you how to write a résumé or how to interview, but we would love for you to hear directly from professionals working in the area that you are interested in learning more about.” 

The CCPD is truly one of the great aspects of the Southwestern Experience

In addition, our CCPD offers students the chance to come to Career Café Drop-in Advising. This advising does not require an appointment, and students can drop in any time between 3:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. every Wednesday to ask anything, ranging from internships and grad school to help with a résumé or cover letter. 

SU’s CCPD is also always contacting people in various companies and organizations to develop connections with them to see whether they are offering any internships or jobs that SU students could apply for. The staff at the CCPD is even willing to visit individual students at their internship sites to better understand the student’s role within the organization and to develop connections with their employers as well. Gilden notes that they visit students’ work sites to show students that if they have an internship, “Southwestern will try to lift that up and promote it.” 

Making connections and building a professional network

Arguably, one of Southwestern’s best attributes is just how strong and helpful our alumni base is in helping current students in internships, jobs, and making connections. Our CCPD is a big reason for this: they are in constant contact with alumni who work at various organizations throughout the country, checking to see whether they have any opportunities for current students or whether they are willing to come to campus to discuss their journey with students. Dana Luna, the assistant director of internships and employment at the CCPD, says, “Your biggest asset is your network, and connections are everywhere. Alumni are great connections.” She advises that using resources like LinkedIn and PirateConnect are great ways to build connections with alumni. PirateConnect especially gives students the opportunity to “maximize the power of the tower” and join a community that can connect them with alumni in their desired field of work. 

Each year, the Center for Career and Professional Development hosts a Career Connections BBQ allo... Each year, the Center for Career and Professional Development hosts a Career Connections BBQ allowing students to engage with alumni and friends who work in an industry they are interested in.

A tailored approach

Our CCPD gives students a highly personalized experience that enhances the skills students need for personal and professional success. Daniel Orozco, the director of CCPD, says that this tailored experience has often been referred to as a “boutique model.” That is, boutiques offer a highly specialized set of services or products to a very specific niche of shopping customers. Orozco says this is highly comparable to CCPD’s approach: “While your job search may have some things in common with [those of] other students, it is your job search, and we want to help design your career.” It is imperative, though, that students start early in their freshman or sophomore year when reaching out to the CCPD for a tailored experience; it’s difficult for the CCPD team to help connect students with the right people if they are less acquainted with the student or their desired career path. 

Internships and high-impact experiences

It seems like you can’t walk anywhere on campus and not see something related to students who have completed internships or some other type of high-impact experience, such as community-engaged learning or study abroad. This is more than likely because most students at SU have completed some type of internship in their four years here, with about 60% of recent graduates reporting that they completed at least one internship experience while at SU. This is exactly what CCPD wants: to demonstrate the success that other SU students experienced at their internship sites so more students will be motivated to pursue an internship of their own. Luna reported one study’s finding that “94% of hiring managers are more likely to hire a recent grad with internship experience. Therefore, employers value experience.” The only way, then, to acquire the work skills and knowledge to succeed in the workplace straight out of college is to learn through internships and jobs that are completed while in college. Anderson adds, “There aren’t any entry-level jobs anymore. There’s no coming in and redshirting and training. You have to be ready to go day one, and how do you build up enough steam to do that? You have to start while you’re in school.” 

Art history major Paola Bazan '22 interned with the Witte Museum cataloging a botanica collection... Art history major Paola Bazan ’22 interned with the Witte Museum cataloging a botanica collection.

Start early and often

Searching for internships and jobs and applying for graduate school can all be extremely difficult tasks if you try to do it alone. That is why CCPD is here. They want to help students become the best versions of themselves in respect to their future careers. Gilden notes that the CCPD “can’t guarantee you [will] get your dream job, but we can help set up a game plan in terms of internships, people to contact, and jobs.” 

The CCPD encourages students to visit, talk to their supportive staff, and discuss their postgraduation plans. Everything that the CCPD does, from organizing job fairs to reaching out to employers in search of internship opportunities, is meant to benefit Southwestern students. Whether it’s a first-year who is just beginning their journey of searching for a career path that is right for them or a senior who is currently job searching, SU’s CCPD will do their very best to help set Southwestern students up for success in their postgraduation lives. The CCPD is truly one of the great aspects of the Southwestern Experience