Over the past 15 years the career services office has served thousands of alumni. My file folder of alumni stories and thank-you notes is about two inches thick. And while we have not been able to help everyone, our office has been successful in reaching out and helping many alumni resolve vocation and job-search questions. The following stories are a sample. If you have a career or job search story you would like to share, please send it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Your story may inspire or encourage a searching Calvin student or graduate. Remember, we are here for you. Stay in touch!
— Glenn Triezenberg
“Finding a job was a job in and of itself.”
“I was asking myself, ‘Am I doing the right thing?’”
“Just writing my resume was an overwhelming task.”
The Calvin grads profiled here felt all of these things and more as they looked for work. The economy made the undertaking a daunting one. All of them today, though, describe themselves as excited about the opportunities ahead in the jobs they found. All of them got the help they needed at Calvin’s career services office.
In May of this year Derek Hunderman ’97 took a risk. With his wife, Andrea, at home caring for their young child and expecting another, he left his job as a manufacturing salesman for a position with Grubb & Ellis/ Paramount, selling commercial real estate — entirely on commission.
Hunderman admits there’s pressure but feels confident about the move. “It was a step of faith. But it’d be ignorant for me to step out blindly without educating myself first. That’s where I’ve appreciated Glenn.”
This isn’t the first time Hunderman has consulted Triezenberg about a job change. “I go to Glenn and say, ‘Here’s what I have as an opportunity; I’m thinking of pursuing it and this is why. You tell me if I’m thinking straight.’ He’s my gut check. He goes all the way back to my sophomore year when he helped me pick a major.”
It’s a relationship Hunderman doesn’t take for granted. Two or three times a year he e-mails or calls Triezenberg just to tell him how things are going. Down the road, he knows, there’ll be another opportunity, and he’ll need a gut check again.
“There’s a different level of communication happening in Calvin’s career services, one you won’t find going to a commercial out-placement firm.”
Mark Mensonides speaks from experience. When the 1991 grad found himself in the job market last March, he went to a placement firm. He also went to Calvin’s career services department and met with Bonnie Speyers.
“She became an important confidante and coach for me. Because she knew my values, what I base my life on, she could give me honest feedback on job options — which ones were a fit for me. You can’t put a dollar value on that.”
After just seven weeks searching, Mensonides found the fit — a management job with the Paulstra Corporation, an automotive supplier in Grand Rapids, Mich.
“You know you’re going to be supported at Calvin’s service,” Mensonides added. “You’re not going to fail in that environment; you’re just not.”
Networking, networking, networking.
That’s Caty Rozema’s job market mantra. And networking rule #1? “Do not be afraid to put yourself out there.” By which she means, be willing to ask people, especially other Calvin grads, for job leads and recommendations. The trick, she added, “is knowing how to use your inroad as a springboard rather than as a crutch. At some point you need to make the jump from ‘I know so-and-so’ to ‘I’m a really qualified applicant.’”
Rozema credits career services with teaching her the “networking tricks of the trade.” And how to craft a resume. And how to present herself in an interview, and… . “I can’t say enough about Glenn and his team,” she said.
Earlier this year, the 2001 English/CAS/art grad found out about a job in the Washington, D.C., area through a friend of a friend of a friend. She applied, interviewed for and was offered a job she considers “perfect” for her. As a software specialist for the Orkand Corporation, she travels to capital cities around the world, teaching employees at American embassies how to use their computer systems.
“It’s hilarious, considering I was computer illiterate until a couple of years ago,” Rozema said. “That’s another thing Glenn taught me: On the job, be a sponge. Learn as much as you can.”
At the time she called it a “career crisis.” It was the winter of her sophomore year; her original triple major had shrunk to a chemistry major, and that wasn’t going well. So Denise Griffioen Tamminga made an appointment to see Glenn Triezenberg.
“I needed career counseling, but that was a launch into counseling of other kinds. Glenn helped me work through some tough issues. He listened to my story and passions and helped me put the pieces together.”
In 1992, Tamminga graduated and moved to southern California to do what she’d wanted to do since childhood and what Glenn had counseled her to go ahead and do: teach math. Ten years of teaching was all preparation, she feels, for the new work she began a year ago as director of member ministries at Rosewood Christian Reformed Church. In that role, Tamminga helps people “look at their gifts, passions, abilities, personality and experiences and then discover their shape for ministry.” Now she, too, is helping people “put the pieces together.”
As the manager of experiential education in Calvin’s career services department, Beth Brink Cok is doing for today’s students what she had to figure out and piece together on her own in the early 1970s.
Then, the only real career service Calvin offered was the placement of student teachers. Entering college as a nursing major, Cok discovered that was not her true vocation. She went to the library and looked at inventories that matched interests and skills with careers. On her own, she determined her interest in medicine combined with her administrative strengths made the insurance business her field. So she went out and got a job with an insurance company.
For 20 years, Cok worked in personal property and injury claims, mostly as a manager. For five more years she owned her own insurance business. Then, at mid-life, she decided to move from the profit to the non-profit sector to “give God a more direct return on the talents he’d given me.”
An article she remembered seeing in Spark about Calvin’s growing career services department brought her back to campus, where she took aptitude tests and personality inventories and met with Glenn Triezenburg. Though Cok didn’t know it, he was looking for someone to manage the burgeoning student-employer internship program. With her 25 years experience at all levels of business management, Cok was a natural fit.
Now her role is to provide students the assistance she didn’t have, helping them assess their strengths, identify possible career paths, and try them out in on-the-job internships. Since Cok began her work with career services in the summer of 1999, the internship program has grown from 15 to 330 students placed — none of them having to go it alone.
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