Career Café: Cover Letters and Coffee

By Kevin Murphy

Career Café is a free event available to all Pima Community College students that offers career resources and career advice. 

The event started in 2013, and this year is being held virtually due to Covid-19 safety protocols. It will cover subjects like resume review, professional interviewing, cover letter tips, and career resources. Though the event is virtual this year, prizes will still be awarded, and the coffee will be sent to students in the mail.

First Year Experience program developer Renee Forsyth oversees the event.

“The purpose of Career Café is to teach the students job skills and career navigation,” Forsyth said. “So what we found was that the college was hosting these different career fairs and mock interviews, and the students weren’t even ready with that basic foundation of how to create a resume or a cover letter, or how to prepare and get ready for even a mock interview.”

Forsyth believes that these career building skills should be learned early in college.

“The whole purpose of this is to take a step back and teach those foundational skills, and that’s why we host it under the first year program, which is also to dispel the myth that you wait till you’re ready to graduate to even be thinking or formulating these things.”

The virtual format of this year’s Career Café makes it different from years past, with presentations and seminars conducted through Zoom meeting rooms.

“Students enter the host room where myself and a co-host kind of explain to them how the event is going to operate,” says Forsyth. “So we have one dedicated to resumes, one dedicated to cover letters, one dedicated to interview skills. The fourth one is dedicated to Pima’s career resources, so that’s where they get to meet Pima’s career counselors and learn about all the cool tools and software that we have through their ‘My Pima’ page.”

“The fifth room is what we call the review and practice room. So if there’s somebody who already has those resumes or cover letters created, or they want to practice a brief mock interview, they can go into that room and get that feedback.”

The Career Café is offered five times a semester, giving Pima students a chance to attend that doesn’t conflict with their schedule.

“Typically when we were on campus it would be held once at every campus,” Forsyth said. “But right now it’s just through Zoom, same format, but different days and time of the day. So that hopefully, if one didn’t work with your schedule the next one will.”

While Forsyth encourages students to attend the live scheduled events, they will also be recorded for students to watch at their leisure.

“I would just encourage students, if one doesn’t work with your schedule, try to attend the next one. But if all else fails, we always do live interviews and recordings from our career cafes, that’s how this was online, even before COVID,” she said. “We have those playlists of videos on our YouTube page as well as our Facebook and Instagram. So that’s a great way for students to still get the information, or go back and reference what they learned, maybe if they forgot.”

There is also a Pinterest page for students where each Pinterest board is based around a specific topic.

“We at this point have over 20 different boards with different articles, videos, and infographics to help students continue to learn and with the physical examples of how to format those resumes, and things like that,” says Forsyth.

Forsyth gave one more final piece of advice to college students in terms of career preparation.

“In the First Year Experience program, we have a phrase which is be a duck. when you look at a duck, and they’re out on the lake they’re calm and graceful on the surface. But underneath, they’re paddling furiously to get to where they want to go, they’ve got some hustle,” she said.

“When the waves get rocky, they don’t let that bother them, they just let it roll off their back. And if they’re super organized, you’ll see that they’ve got all their ducks in a row.”

 Upcoming Career Café dates:

Tuesday, March 9 11am-1pm

Wednesday, April 14m at 10am-12pm

Thursday, May 6 at 1-3pm