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GPI - Julia O’Reilly, Career Counselor


Courtesy of Julia O'Reilly

By Bella Omar

Editorial Staff 


What is your professional background?


Before FSU, I worked professionally at the University of Tennessee Knoxville, where I got my graduate degree. I worked in leadership and service, so I did a lot of events. I did a lot of service work, service leadership, and education. It was more so on the student life side of things. And then, I worked for two years as an academic coach there, which was more on the academic side of the house working with strengths, study skills, time management, and different ways to succeed in the classroom. And before this job, I was at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences in Boston and I did academic advising there. I did that for about a year and this is kind of my first stint in career development specifically, but I think each one of those experiences brought me here. It allows me to focus on helping students get involved outside of the classroom, helping them succeed in the classroom, and then using the product of that to help them market themselves. 


What does a day in your life look like for you?


So as a career counselor, that's my primary focus. A lot of what I do the bulk of my day is student appointments. I typically see all different types of topics. I see résumé and cover letter reviews, I see graduate school inquiries, I see job interview questions or conducting mock interviews - helping students to begin their job search and their internship search. So a lot of student meetings, I think, is the bulk of my day. It's very student-facing and then outside of that, I do the Suitable Solutions program, so I work on marketing for that. You know, doing a lot of appointment notes, and just trying to do personal research, right? I've got tabs up on my computer all the time about things that I'm interested in, things I want to learn more about, and just helping everybody else around the office with whatever they need.


Do you have any particularly memorable student stories?


The Strong Interest Inventory is something that I know we're really proud of in this office. And what I always bring up is this - an alum who has been an alum for 15 or 20 years, who was beginning a career change, and I think it was my first Strong Interest Inventory interpretation that I did. So I was really nervous because it was someone who was older than me. So there was kind of that impostor syndrome in there, but I hope that this is something that they're going to benefit from and luckily, they were absolutely phenomenal, super open-minded to the results, what the assessment is designed to do, and they were really open to feedback. They were really open to any next steps we were willing to take with that and I thought it was validating in a few ways. It was really cool to see someone embrace that humility and say “I'm however many years old and I don't know what I want to do, and I'm open to the idea of starting over,” and then having a tool that allowed them to start doing that was really great, and they were so receptive to what we had to say that I think on our end, we were like, “OK, so this does work. This is something that does serve multiple purposes.”


What is a piece of career advice you would give your undergraduate self?


I would say it's never too early, and it's never too late. So it's never too early, meaning if you are a first-year student and you want to develop your résumé, or you want to take the Strong Interest Inventory and just find out who you are, it's never too early. What we see a lot this semester is students who are starting to look for full-time jobs after college and they're like, “Am I too late? Is February too late?” No, you're not because we have the job fairs that are happening in March. If the companies aren't even coming here until March, you're good. It's never too late. We all move at our own pace. And it's never too early. So I think what's helpful is whenever students ask that question is being able to say back to them, “You're doing it now. The fact that you're in here asking these questions - you're a lot farther along than you think.” And then just kind of a reminder, reminding them that all their experiences here are qualifying them, whether it's stuff they are learning in the classroom or in extracurricular activities, interactions with their peers, it all adds up to how they present themselves after they leave here.


What is your biggest takeaway from this position?


I think the work has been a really fun transition into this focus area. Away from things I've done in the past, but I think the power of camaraderie and collaboration that happens at smaller institutions has been really really cool. This is my first time at a relatively smaller school. And none of this happens without every single person in the office. So whether we're executing a job fair, or we're executing Career Week events, or we’re assisting with orientation we are all hands on deck for those things. So that can make for some hectic days. I think the thing I've learned the most is we all wear multiple hats in this office, but in a way that we're happy to do so. We're happy to lean on other people and have everybody have a piece of the pie at the end. What's a really cool is getting to see how teamwork collaboration is defined and demonstrated here. 

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