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College, Careers and COVID-19: Meet the Career Center’s Kate Herron

Kate Herron serves Florida State University as the Assistant Director for Experiential Learning at the Career Center and as an Adjunct Faculty member for the School of Communication. However, Kate does so much more than what these titles convey. A self-described “fierce cheerleader” for her students, she is a passionate mom, a lifelong FSU fan and an advocate for every student that comes her way. I was honored to get her thoughts this week about her story, how to navigate internships and careers during the COVID-19 pandemic and how we can all begin to answer that terrifying question that comes after graduating: what do I do now?

Her Campus (HC): What inspired your passion for working with students and empowering them to be successful in their career journeys and beyond?

Kate Herron (KH): I don’t know that there is one specific moment or example of what sparked my passion for working with students and helping them on their career journeys. After working with students for over 10 years, there is a palpable joy when you review all the drafts of a student’s resume, see them navigate their first career fair, network with employers, land the job they wanted and then come back and tell you all the ways they’re thriving. It’s not lost on me that one of the most fun and unofficial roles I take on is that of a fierce cheerleader.

HC: How did you come to be a part of the FSU community? How do those experiences help you in your role today? 

KH: I grew up on the FSU campus. My mom has been a faculty member in the College of Business for 42 years. As a little girl, I sat through many of her lectures in the back row with my coloring books. It was always a treat after her class to walk down the halls of Rovetta to the vending machines for a Twix and Dr. Pepper…Even though I moved away, FSU has a way of getting into your bones and bringing you back. After living in Chicago for four years, I moved back and have worked in advising, research and for the last four years at The Career Center. My professional experiences of course influence my role here, but spending my formative years on our stunning campus has undoubtedly made me invested in our University and students.

HC: What is one of the most common fears students have in their transitions from university life to their professional life? 

KH: I think a common fear with any transition, including the one from college life to the professional world, is “will I be successful? Will I be happy? Will I feel like I’m making a positive impact?” That’s not a concrete fear like “will I get a job?” which has a close-ended answer, but they are related. As a Social Worker by training, it is important to validate those fears. Listen to what success looks like for them and then guide them to the resources that can make that happen.

HC: Virtual life during the global pandemic of COVID-19 can be difficult and frustrating. Is it worth it to seek out internships/jobs during this time? How can students still find these opportunities?

KH: It is absolutely worth pursuing internships/jobs, even in the context of a global pandemic. Yes, some employers are not hiring, but many are. Attend a virtual career fair. Find a mentor. Conduct an informational interview. Use search platforms to find internships/jobs like NoleNetwork or CareerShift. Speak with a career advisor or your career liaison. These resources are free for students and we want to help you reach your professional goals.

HC: For our first and second-year students, is it too early to begin looking towards their careers? What are the available resources for them?

KH: There is never a time that is too early to start exploring careers and talking to industry experts! My advice on resources would be nearly identical no matter what year you are in college, but rather assess what phase you’re in: exploration or application. The exploration phase can include resources like finding a mentor or engaging in job shadowing.  Having those conversations and talking to people who work in those roles already is how many of us discover if a career path really speaks to us. The application phase looks a lot more like attending career fairs, information sessions, internships, part-time jobs, or the Experience Recognition Program.

HC: Finally, was the best moment of your #quarantinesummer? What has been helping you stay motivated during this time?

KH: This year has been one for the record books as there have been really ugly, difficult, heartbreaking, isolating things going on – simultaneously it seems. And this year has also been a reminder of what we hold dear. Where we choose to invest our time, our most precious resource! On that note, the best part of my #quarantinesummer was spending quality time with my family. It has been a treat to have my kids around me during the day – to fix them lunch, read stories, play in the garden in between Zoom sessions.

KH: The nights when my husband comes home from work have also taken on a special meaning. He’s an ER nurse and treats COVID-19 patients every shift. He has to take a lot of precautions to keep us safe. I know his job can be hard, but he comes home happy to see us, and we all find a way to make some normalcy. They aren’t glamorous snapshots of our life, but they are some of the most important and memorable. I like to think of them as a reminder that we all have it in us to meet this moment.

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Emily is a passionate writer and speaker dedicated to changing the world one shared story at a time. A junior studying English and Communications, she serves her community through organizations such as Camp Kesem FSU, and recently finished her second year as the Reading Clerk for the Florida House of Representatives. Emily is a proud cat mom, Parks and Rec fan, and taco aficionado.
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