Did you know that York University has a Career Centre?
Thanks to a new team of Career Peer Educators, more York students can now answer “Yes!” Between September and February, the team of five student educators has helped more than 1,200 students and recent graduates with their career questions.
The program launched in September 2018 in response to the National College Health Assessment of 2016, in which career related issues were identified as one of the top stressors for students across Ontario, along with academics and finances. Funding was made possible through a Ministry of Training, Colleges & Universities Mental Health Services Grant. The team works collaboratively with the Health Education & Promotion Department located within the Student Success Centre to use peer-based models to improve health outcomes for students across the University.
“York University’s mental health strategy encourages an integrated approach to campus mental health,” said Helen Lee, manager of well-being and health promotions. “Through a collaborative approach, we have built partnerships across campus departments and services; namely, Health Education, Learning Skills, Student Financial Services and the Career Centre, to deliver peer-led stress-buffer programming fostering a social model of well-being on campus.”
Career peer educators offer support across campus at the Career Centre, Learning Commons, RED Zone, and at special events such as Red & White Day and the recent Advising Fair. As students themselves, peers are suited to help students manoeuvre the challenges they may face in navigating their careers.
Peer educators provide students with career information and emotional support, and also serve as role models, build connections and engage students in dialogue about career decision-making models.
“I feel ecstatic after helping a student to overcome their career fears and seeing them leave relieved and with next steps in mind, said Zarlasht Jamal, career peer educator and global health student.
New Career Lounge has opened
Along with the launch of the Career Peer Educator team, the Career Centre has opened a new Career Lounge within its office at 202 McLaughlin College. The Career Lounge is a flexible workspace where students and recent grads can drop by (no appointment needed) and stay for as little or as long as they like during designated hours on weekdays. Using the resources available in the space, students can work independently, with a career peer educator, and/or with other students in the lounge to develop their career self-management skills and explore next steps for their career questions.
“It has been amazing to see the positive response to the Career Lounge. We have been busy from day one and have now had over 500 visits. Sixty-one per cent of Career Lounge users from the Fall term were first-time visitors to our office and we are thrilled that our peers have allowed us to support a wider group of students with their career journey,” said Nicole Joron, career educator and peer co-ordinator.
The team participated in a week-long training program at the end of August and continues to hone their skills in weekly team meetings. The peers have received hands-on training that includes coaching conversations, making referrals and effective outreach.
Hasna Egal, career peer lead and education student, said, “It has been an absolute pleasure to support, empower, engage and connect with students and alumni on their career journeys. From connecting with students during campus events to helping students in the Career Lounge with an upcoming job interview, this has been incredibly rewarding for all of us, both personally and professionally.”