Nace Award Nominees
Career Peer Mentors Jessica Dickinson Goodman (EHPP '12) and Christopher Sparks (IRP '13) were honored at the NACE National Conference and Expo, held in Las Vegas in June.
Dickinson-Goodman and Sparks were selected among all entrants as finalists for the Innovation Excellence Awards for the StuCo (student-taught course) they created entitled: “How to Get a Job.”
The organization that recognized the work of Dickinson Goodman and Sparks, is NACE, the National Association of Colleges and Employers, which connects campus recruiting and career services professionals, and provides best practices, trends, research, professional development, and conferences to its constituents.
When Sparks read about the nomination in an email, he was ecstatic. “We’d always been proud of the class,” Sparks noted. “But to hear that something you helped create is nominated for a national award is phenomenal. I called my parents. I called my girlfriend. I called everyone I’d ever known.”
Sparks attributes the nomination to several factors, first among them that the course was not taught by people who had already succeeded in the field or even career professional, but by students (himself and Dickinson-Goodman) who were also searching for jobs. Their positions as CPMs at the CPDC gave them unique access to resources and career consultants which allowed them to assist their students. But the fact that they were students themselves gave them a unique credibility with their peers and an insiders perspective the pressures students are under in looking for a job while keeping up with their studies and activities.
The next step was for Sparks to head to Las Vegas to be a part of the awards ceremony at the NACE National Conference. As he sat in the ballroom of the Paris Hotel and Casino, in front of approximately 1500 career professionals and employers from universities and companies spanning the country, the thought that his accomplishment was being touted nationally, was, as he describes, an experience beyond words.
Because this StuCo required more work than some, enrollment in the course declined as the course progressed. The real success of the course for Sparks was the sense of community that was created among the students and the bonding of individuals with varied backgrounds. “The art majors suddenly had more people from the class attending their shows or performances; the business majors had new people to listen to their ideas; the people who’d had jobs before volunteered to critique the resumes of the people who never had, just because they wanted to and they’d become friends.”
Though they didn’t win the award, Sparks noted that he felt minimal disappointment. The experience of being nominated and asked to attend made him feel humble and proud. “Did I want to win?” Sparks said, “Absolutely. I wanted to bring home the honor to everyone who couldn’t be there.”
Dr. Farouk Dey, the Director of the CPDC, who attended the conference and awards ceremony alongside Sparks said, “We couldn’t be more proud of Chris and Jessica for this accomplishment. It was a well-deserved nomination for an excellent course. We're excited to see where Chris will take the course this coming year.”
Sparks will continue to teach the StuCo both semesters of the 2012-13 academic year. He’s looking for a teacher to take the reins after he graduates in 2013-2014. As far as tweaking the course for the future, Sparks notes, “I don’t want students slaving away at a StuCo while they have other classes for their majors and minors to be completed.”
At the CPDC, we have every confidence in Sparks’ ability to carry on with the work he started with Jessica Dickinson Goodman, and to continue the tradition of this award-worthy course.