New career tools boost workplace readiness for USC grads

The “Ready, Set, Career!” and “Skill Boosters” sections will accompany the Trojan Network to offer students and alumni new training and mentorship opportunities.

April 28, 2021 Grayson Schmidt

As the Class of 2021 prepares to head out into the world after graduation, they will have some new tools at their disposal from the USC Career Center.

The Career Center is set to launch two new sections in May as part of its USC Career Launchpad program. “Ready, Set, Career!” will offer students and the graduates from the Class of 2021 resources like job interview prep and resume critiquing, and the new “Skill Boosters” section will teach what most people would otherwise learn often through trial and error in their first year on the job.

“Our students already have very strong academic backgrounds, but now they can augment that with additional skills that employers are specifically requesting,” said Carl Martellino, associate vice provost for student affairs and career services.

Students will be able to receive training in areas like media literacy, decision-making, people skills in a polarized world, data visualizing, self-presentation, fundamentals of project management and remote working. Students will receive a certificate and a notation on their transcript for each completed Skill Booster section.

“This just gives our students that additional skill set that helps make them even more marketable than they already were,” Martellino said. “These skills are always needed in any type of work setting, whether it’s an internship or a full-time position.”

The Skill Boosters are applicable to programs across the university. Whether a student is going into business, the arts, engineering, medicine or environmental work, they’re going to need to understand many of these areas in some form or another.

“No matter what career you go into, you’re going to work with different types of people across different cultures, across different generations, across different backgrounds of all types,” Martellino said, “so skills like presenting yourself through the digital age or project management are going to be relevant in any field.”

New USC tools part of the career services offered to all students, alumni

Martellino added that these additions to the Career Launchpad were not in response to COVID-19. Despite concerns over declining job opportunities across the country due to COVID, last year’s graduating class actually did quite well in terms of a “post-graduate plan,” which can include a full-time job, fellowship, graduate school or the military.

“I think there’s a lot of anxiety about the pandemic’s impact on the job market,” he said. “Has there been some impact on graduates at USC? Yes, but it’s been very minor, almost none to be honest, and our students are doing really well and getting some incredible offers.”

Part of that can be credited to USC’s vast and active alumni base, particularly the Trojan Network. This part of the Career Launchpad has been active, in various formats, for a long time and connects students with alumni professionals in wide-ranging roles and industries around the globe. The online platform is designed to help students and graduating seniors gain career knowledge and industry-related experiences through interviews, networking and mentorship opportunities.

Ryan Barner, a 2014 graduate of the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, said the Trojan Network is a great way to stay connected to the university and give back. Plus, it allows him the flexibility to answer questions from students who may not have time for a mentor-mentee commitment.

“The Trojan Network served as a great platform for me to apply for jobs when I was a student. Most of my interviews and eventually my first job out of college came from it,” he said. “Since then, I’ve interacted through the network, mentoring students who were in the same spot I was years ago.”

Martellino said the hope is that all USC students who take advantage of the new career tools return the favor to the students that come after.

“We want students to get these sets of skills,” he said, “and then add value back into the Trojan community.”