What is WCU’s Center for Career and Professional Development?

The Center for Career and Professional Development (CCPD) is a valuable resource on campus that few recognize until it is too late. Many students hear about the CCPD during their first tours of campus or at orientation but hesitate to reap its benefits until nearing their graduation. 

The Center for Career and Professional Development offers students a wide range of resources both online and at their physical space behind Reid Gymnasium. Photo by Liam Bridgeman.

The CCPD’s physical space is at the backside of Reid Gymnasium. Here, nearly 20 employees, both full-time counselors and peer counselors, help students with their career-related needs. The center is open Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. with drop-in appointments available from noon to 4 p.m. 

The career center offers a multitude of options for students based around their needs. Dr. Theresa Cruz Paul is the director of the CCPD. She knows first-hand that talking about and even thinking about life after WCU can be frightening to many.  

“It’s scary. Career development and your career future is a scary topic to think about,” Cruz Paul said. She encourages students to go to CCPD at their earliest opportunity so they can relieve some of that stress.  

The CCPD has a dedicated staff that can assist in the often-difficult process of choosing a major. 

The CCPD also has virtual resources available to students for free.  

For example, it may be in a student’s best interest to take the “Focus 2” assessment (found on the CCPD’s website). The Focus 2, tests skills, abilities and interests to match them with career paths. Cruz Pual says the test won’t limit your decisions, rather it will expand your knowledge of what career or major you could be interested in. After taking the test, it’s best to meet with a counselor to discuss your next steps at deciding your major or career path. 

Outside of Focus 2, the CCPD has other online resources available such as their career guide. The guide, found on their website, is a virtual book that is a fillable PDF that allows students to explore topics such as interviews, resumes, cover letters and graduate school, among other things. 

JobCat is another online resource that can help students with career development. This is a portal where the CCPD places job postings, internship opportunities, fellowships and career fair information.  

“Big Interview” is another service that is free for students through the CCPD. This service helps students practice and prepare for job interviews. The service uses AI technology to ask questions based on the skill set of the industry you are interested in. The system will then score your interview.  

Outside of the virtual resources, staff at the CCPD can also help students with just about anything career related.  

Cruz Paul encourages freshman to visit the CCPD to explore career opportunities they may not have been exposed to before WCU. Learning more about potential career avenues could change a student’s time in college for the better.  

According to Cruz Paul, students begin to gain valuable skills and experience during their sophomore and junior years. At this time, the CCPD can guide your learning and give you tips on how to gain those experiences. During the year, counselors can assist students looking for internships, part-time jobs and help with putting materials together to get those opportunities such as resumes and cover letters.   

Cruz Paul says her staff of professionals and trained students are eager to help support students. 

“I want students to know that our team is strong [at the CCPD] and really cares about the students. They spend a lot of time making sure they’re an expert in their area and make sure they connect with students in ways that work for them,” Cruz Paul said.  

The CCPD also hosts events on campus that help students connect with businesses and corporations. Three times per semester the CCPD hosts a career fair where organizations across the nation bring representatives to WCU to engage with students. The first career fair this fall will be held on Sept. 26 in the Ramsey Center. There, between 100-130 employers will be eager to talk with hundreds of WCU students that participate in the fair. 

As the CCPD is dedicated to providing students with every resource they could possibly need to be successful, one often overlooked aspect of professionalism is professional attire. For the first time ever, the CCPD will have a “clothing closet” where students can rent clothes for free – returning them after use. On Nov. 6, using some of the clothes from the closet, students will participate in a professional attire and business casual fashion show. At the end of the show, students can keep the clothes.  

For more information or to take advantage of the CCPD’s resources, visit their website linked on WCU’s main page.