Seminar steers students professionally, mentally

By Janette Neuwahl Tannen

Seminar steers students professionally, mentally

By Janette Neuwahl Tannen
Students can attend a free, one-day conference on March 27 hosted by the Toppel Career Center that will help to identify their career strengths and teach them how to navigate the job search with confidence.

When Miranda Persaud returned to her family’s Fort Myers home last spring amid COVID-19 concerns, the junior political science major was still exploring her career goals but knew she was interested in crime.

Yet Persaud was not going to spend her downtime relaxing. Soon after she settled into virtual learning, she began looking for internship opportunities near her family’s home. A few months later, Persaud started a summer internship at the Lee County Courthouse, where she helped the clerk’s office revise criminal and civil court documents and learned about criminal evidence processing.

“I was able to see where and how they store criminal evidence, and it was fascinating,” she said.

The experience helped Persaud realize that she wants to earn a master’s degree in criminal justice and eventually apply to law school. But Persaud also recognizes that she had the motivation to apply for the internship because of a Professional Development Academy (PDA) training she received at the University of Miami’s Toppel Career Center last fall. 

Miranda Persaud

“I’ve become more comfortable in myself,” said Persaud, who is now a senior. “And even if I’m not certain of my future, I can utilize the strengths I learned about myself from the PDA to be more confident and not worry as much about my future.”

She and three other students are now hoping to inspire other ’Canes to tackle the job market with newfound conviction about their own talent. Persaud, along with Donnae Farquharson, Bishara Randolph, and Sarah Elena Shanahan are organizing Toppel’s first one-day Diversity and Inclusion Professional Development Academy virtual conference, “Navigating Identities in the Professional Landscape,” on Saturday, March 27, from noon until 4:30 p.m. 

The seminar will condense what is typically a nine-week course that is offered once a week into an afternoon event, so that more students can attend. It will include sessions led by the four facilitators to help other University students who are looking for jobs, internships, or even applying to graduate school programs focus on their personal assets in order to find the right job. The conference will also feature a panel discussion with diverse professionals representing organizations, such as City Year, Maximus, Techtronic Industries, the T. Howard Foundation, and the Aqua Foundation for Women.

Donnae Farquharson

Farquharson, a senior exercise physiology major, will lead the first session guiding students on how to identify their personal strengths. Farquharson is hoping to become a doctor, and the guidance from Toppel helped her to become a medical scholar at the Miller School of Medicine last summer. She is also looking forward to sharing what she has learned from Toppel with other ’Canes.

“When you’re able to explore your own personal strengths, you’re able to relate it back and ultimately help build your company’s brand,” she said. “So, by identifying your strengths you can give back to a company in ways they never even thought of.”

Randolph, a junior public health major, will lead a session on communication in the workplace. He said the guidance Toppel has offered since freshman year helped him land an internship at the Michigan Department of Health last summer, where he created an e-newsletter for the state’s contact tracers during the pandemic. Because this all occurred in a remote work environment, Randolph said he relied heavily on the training he received in professional communication to share information with the tracers. He is hoping to use all of these skills to eventually become a health care lawyer; but in the meantime, Randolph is happy to share his knowledge with other students.

Bishara Randolph

“I want students to come out of this conference knowing more about themselves and how they can use their strengths in the workplace to their advantage,” he said, adding that his session will allow students to identify their preferred mode of communication. “We’re also going to help them realize how they communicate best and how they should be communicating with others.” 

The conference will be held online on Saturday, March 27. Register here by Sunday, March 21. Students who attend will receive a certificate of completion.