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EDU Honor Roll: Cameron Whitfield, Internship Developer at Cosumnes River College

Help us congratulate Cameron Whitfield from Cosumnes River College! 🎉

Over the last decade, Cameron Whitfield went from a career programming enthusiast to a workforce development expert. His educational background in anthropology and personnel administration, combined with his dedication to helping students realize their potential, are at the forefront in his role as the Internship Developer at Cosumnes River College in Sacramento, CA. Read on to learn how Cameron and his team are leading with empowerment to get their students hired.

Tell us about your career journey and your role in the career center.

As the Internship Developer for the Work Experience and Internship Program, I support student success by seamlessly integrating experiential learning opportunities into students' academic journeys, allowing them to earn course credits while gaining invaluable real-world experience relevant to their majors.

Two significant influences on my working style have been David Allen's Getting Things Done productivity system, which aids in focus and smart decision-making, and Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain, which empowered me to understand my introverted nature, build confidence, and leverage my strengths to better assist others. These resources have emphasized efficiency, empathy, and personal growth in my professional endeavors.

What is an example of an impactful initiative you’ve implemented at your institution?

One impactful initiative I've spearheaded is the implementation of resume drop-in sessions across various student support programs on campus. Rather than waiting for students to come to us, we meet them where they are—literally and figuratively. By providing services in spaces where they feel safe and supported, we foster a sense of accessibility and inclusivity, and demonstrate genuine care and investment in their success.

How are you utilizing data from Handshake to effectively provide leadership with an accurate and compelling view of programmatic success?

At the district level, we have taken proactive steps by establishing a Handshake Data and Reporting Committee, which develops strategies that ensure the accuracy and reliability of the data housed in Handshake and allows us to confidently share dashboards and reports with leadership.

An example of data utilization from our career center is the implementation of student labels to track engagement from students in grant-funded programs like Extended Opportunity Programs and Services (EOPS), CalWorks, and those serving veterans. In response to frequent inquiries from program supervisors regarding participation, I developed a custom Handshake report that is shared with them monthly, saving them time and informing their decisions.

Looking ahead, we’re committed to enhancing our processes by collaborating with our district IT office to standardize data integration and conducting regular training sessions to educate different departments on embedding Handshake within their programs. By leveraging Handshake data in these strategic ways, we are fostering a culture of data-driven decision-making and student success across the district.

How does Handshake help make your team more successful?

Handshake has positively impacted our team's success via…

  • Marketing features that allow us to send tailored emails to students based on their majors, enhancing our engagement
  • Tools to track student hiring data that provide valuable insights into our recruitment processes and help us refine our programmatic strategy
  • Centralized on-campus job listings which simplifies the job search and streamlines hiring process for both students and employers
  • Case management capabilities that enable us to monitor students progress to their goals and facilitate more targeted support and intervention where needed
  • Event promotion hub where campus academic and support programs can advertise career-related programming, which fosters a stronger connection between academic initiatives and career exploration

What is one of your favorite events or programs that you or your team have implemented for students on your campus?

One of my favorite events is the "Networking for people who hate networking" workshop, inspired by and named after the book by Devora Zack. This workshop is tailored specifically for introverted students who feel overwhelmed or intimidated by traditional networking events—a unique challenge that I understand as an introvert myself. During the workshop, we explore unconventional and strengths-based networking strategies and emphasize qualities like active listening, deep thinking, and empathy. One of the most rewarding aspects of facilitating this workshop is witnessing students transform from apprehensive and uncertain empowered and optimistic.

What are the biggest career-related challenges your students face and how do you and your team help solve for them?

Many of our students struggle with uncertainty regarding available career options, lack of confidence due to lack of experience, pressure to choose a major based on family expectations or perceived salary potential, and limited opportunities among employers recruiting primarily bachelor’s degree holders.

To address these challenges, our career team focuses on empowering students and broadening their horizons by building strong relationships with employers, advocating for inclusive recruitment processes, showcasing successful community college graduates, and emphasizing skills-based opportunities and job searches. Additionally, we leverage career assessment and exploration tools to help students expand their understanding of potential career paths and identify positions that align with their interests and skills. Through these initiatives and more, we help students make informed career decisions and equip them to succeed in today's competitive job market.

Any final thoughts?

My goal is to ensure that no student feels alone or overlooked in their journey towards professional success. By providing tailored support and guidance—and leveraging Handshake—I hope to equip students with the tools they need to thrive in any environment. Colleagues across the district have long sought a comprehensive platform for campus jobs, events, and employer engagement, and while we're still in the initial stages of incorporating the platform into classrooms, student support programs, and services, I'm optimistic that it will become an integral part of our campus community in the coming years.

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