As the first Director of Career Services at the School of Social Welfare, Emerald Templeton has taken on the role of preparing students for life after college and impacting their career decisions. However, she also aspires to make a difference in the lives of her fellow advisors.
How did you find yourself on this career path?
ET: As a community college transfer student I was encouraged by the great support and strong foundation I received from a team of advisors who walked me through academic, career, and personal development decisions. That experience really shaped my view of student development issues and inspired me to do some work in foster youth advocacy and then, counseling. After pursuing a master's in Counseling from San Francisco State University, I've worked with a diversity of students with concerns ranging from adjusting to college life, getting internship credit, applying to graduate school, and exploring careers. Now, I've come full circle in applying all of my experiences to supporting the career and professional development of graduate students in the School of Social Welfare.
How long have you been at UC Berkeley in your current role? Beyond your daily job, are you involved in the advising community in other ways?
ET: I've been working in this role for a year and half now. As means of professional development, I remain involved in a few activities and associations that help me stay grounded and connected to research and other trends in the field. I am a member of the American Counseling Association, National Career Development Association, NACADA, and NASPA. Not only do I actively serve on boards for the California Counseling Association and the CareerOneStop Advisory Committee, I try to attend and present at local and national conferences. In addition, I connect with other staff on campus through committees like the new Career Practitioners Community.
As a Career Services Advisor in a professional school, what does your student population look like? Do you work with undergraduates? Alumni? What are the challenges and rewards in working with these different populations?
ET: The student population in the School is very diverse--we serve about 200 masters students and of that number just under half (49%) identify as a member of an underrepresented ethnic community. My primary goal is to provide targeted services in preparation for social work and related careers. One of the challenges our students have faced, much like students in other professional schools, is finding supplemental career development advising outside of the classroom that meets the specialized needs of their respective fields. As such is the case, I also work with alumni in advising them as they make career decisions and in connecting them with current students as a resource. This type of specialized career advising is not a singular event; but many professional schools like Public Policy, Public Health, I-School, and Optometry have taken this approach as well.
Do you have advice for the advising community?
ET: College students face challenges that are unique to their population so having an awareness of what goes on on-campus is vital. It is important that advisors and counselors don't lose touch with students and their world. What has been most helpful for me, and what I encourage others to consider, is cross-departmental collaboration--the support and resources found makes a world of difference in service the complex needs of students.