THE CENTER FOR CAREER ENGAGEMENT AND EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING
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Staff Highlight: Q&A with Ms. Victoria Harris, Director of Career Engagement and Experiential Learning

Ms. Victoria Harris has served as the Director of Career Engagement and Experiential Learning at Harris-Stowe State University since June 2018. With 12 years of experience in career development and human resources, Victoria has a strong passion for connecting scholars with professional development opportunities to connect to their careers.

Ms. Harris is an emerging civic leader; serving with the National Coalition of 100 Black Women-Metropolitan St. Louis. She has also served as a mentor for over 10 years with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri, a Board member of the SoulFisher Ministries and a member of the United Way's- Charmaine Chapman Leadership Society. Ms. Harris is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. North County Inc. recognized Ms. Harris as one of the "30 Leaders in their 30's" award. 

In this question and answer, Ms. Harris talks about why she decided to pursue a fulfilling career in the education field, how she came to work at Harris-Stowe and the importance of her work the Harris-Stowe student population with regard to their career aspirations.

 

How did you decide to pursue a career in the education field?

I made the decision in 2010. One of my mentors was working at the St. Louis Community College. There was a position at the institution in their career development department. Working with young adults to help them find employment opportunities became my passion. This will be my 8th year working in career development and working at my second institution.

 

What brought you to Harris-Stowe State University?

When I lived in the Central West End, I always heard about Harris-Stowe. Prior to working here, I attended a presidential lecture series event and HBCU college fair. I brought my students over from the community college. There was always a good family vibe. I met Dr. LaTonia Collins-Smith at a networking event and we exchanged business cards. A year later, I met Dr. Warmack at a leadership event. He asked me what I planned to do in career development. In 2018, Dr. Collins-Smith called me and said Harris-Stowe was recruiting for Director in Career Engagement. We had a conversation about me coming on to work. I established these connections early on. As I often tell my students, it is not whom you know but who knows you. In short, working at Harris-Stowe fell into place for me.

 

What change have you brought to the HSSU campus through career engagement and experiential learning?

I think the Office of Career Engagement had already built rapport with HSSU students prior to my arrival. My main priorities were getting them to come in for help with their resumes and employment opportunities. I was already completing more presentations to bring more employers to the campus in addition to creating more events. When I think about this office, it is about building rapport and being relatable. I can remember a friend of mine talking to me years ago about the difficulties of networking when looking for a job; it is not easy. I want people to feel welcome. I want employers to connect and hire HSSU students. Connecting people is the goal.

 

Are there any new events students should be on the lookout for this academic year?

On October 18, College of Education Fair will take place. I am looking to lead an After the Career Fair Workshop. The purpose of this event will be to follow up with the students. The overall question is, “How can we move forward in making sure our students are employed after graduation?” I will also do goal planning this academic year. I am working on securing guests to come speak to our seniors. Resume and Pizza Night will be on Thursday, Nov. 7 with Wells Fargo. Executives and advisors will connect and network with our students.

 

What are you looking forward to most in the 2019-2020 academic year?

For me, I look forward to continuing to work with our students, seniors especially. Although I hate singling out any one group, getting them properly prepared for their upcoming graduation is important to me. I look forward to helping all students with whatever they need, really. From providing information on available internships to getting our students in the eyes of potential employers, I’m helping where I can in. I’m thankful for the real super heroes of HSSU, groups that are always supportive, one which falls under the scope of Dr. Collins-Smith, and my team including Ms. Butler. I love being able to do the work.

 

To reach out to Ms. Harris, you can give her a call at (314) 340-3512 or visit the Office of Career Engagement and Experiential Learning, located in the HGA Building on campus.

 

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