New Berney Family Welcome Center helping students be career ready

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Andrew Walber, senior in civil engineering, browses through the selection of suits at the Career Closet in the Berney Family Welcome Center. The Career Closet offers free, gently-used business clothing to students Monday through Thursday, 12-4 p.m. (Nick Horvath | The Collegian)

Starting this past summer, a prospective Kansas State student’s journey now begins in the Berney Family Welcome Center. The center, which is located in the former East Memorial Stadium next to the K-State Alumni Center, will offer several different services for incoming, current and graduating students.

“This building project is unique in that it’s not new construction, it’s taking an old structure and really preserving it for the campus,” Emily Lehning, associate vice president for student life and director of New Student Services, said.

The newly-renovated structure has become home to other departments like the Career Center. The Career Center is a combined service with Career and Employment Services and the Academic Career and Information Center, which were separate entities previously.

“We feel like this is much more convenient for students, for both of our departments to be located in the same space,” Kerri Keller, director of the Career Center, said. “Especially since it was so confusing between the names of our [previous] buildings and for students to understand what different kinds of help we provided in the career services area.”

The Career Closet

The Career Center can provide students with access to several different resources and services, including access to the Career Closet. The Career Closet provides K-State students with professional clothing for free. This allows students to prepare more appropriately for interviews and other professional settings, like career fairs.

“There are clothes in there from people such as Dr. Bosco, former [K-State] President Schulz, April Mason, many of the great teachers from across campus,” Jared Meitler, senior assistant director of career exploration for the Career Center, said. “So what a cool opportunity to be able to wear the same purple tie that Dr. Bosco did when he recruited you to come to K-State.”

Before, the Career Closet did not have a permanent home, as there was no designated space for all of the clothes. Meitler said that because of this, it used to only function whenever it was possible to wheel the clothes out on racks. The new space of the Welcome Center has allowed these donated clothes to have a specific place inside the Career Center with set hours.

“Now, where it’s got a permanent home and a consistent schedule that students can rely on, it gives them a resource that they know they can trust and go to as they’re preparing for those interviews or whatever else they might need that professional dress for,” Meitler said.

Keller said she hopes that students will come and utilize the opportunity for free professional clothes. She also said that her hope is that students learn of the Career Closet and utilize it as soon as possible so that they will then also discover the many other services provided by the Career Center, such as free resume help and professional portraits for sites like LinkedIn.

Looking ahead

“Even as new, prospective students are coming into this facility, they’re going to be exposed to the Career Center as they make decisions about where they’re going to go to school and they’ll already know what kinds of resources we have through the Career Center,” Keller said.

Because of all of these unique services, Lehning said the location of the Career Center can give visitors an inside look at the opportunities K-State could offer them in the area of career development, too.

“It’s a tremendous benefit,” Lehning said. “A lot of our students and families like that idea of looking ahead and seeing possibilities and thinking about ‘how will that K-State experience get me to those career goals?’”

This combination of services in one building provides a “bookeneded” effect Lehning said. She explained that the Welcome Center provides incoming students with resources to begin at K-State, while also providing resources for graduating students to transition more easily into the workforce.

“We think this is a unique combination, but one that’s very meaningful and we think will really resonate with our visiting students and families,” Lehning said.

Technology opportunities

In addition, the space was also designed with 25 interview rooms that can be used by all of the services in the building. These interview rooms can provide a space for employers to interview students on campus, or also be utilized for admissions representatives to speak with prospective students and their families.

Along with the interview rooms, the Welcome Center also has a theater, which Meitler said could be very effective for a variety of occasions.

“The theater provides us a really conducive space for student learning to happen when you consider employers want to deliver information about their company, whether it’s a workshop, preparing students for career fairs, we have a space now within our own building where we can deliver that information to students,” Meitler said.

He also said that the theater has the technological ability to record presentations, which can be beneficial for students who are taking classes from off campus or from a remote location. While the outside of the building represents part of K-State history, the inside uses several types of newer technologies to further student service.

This also includes interactive touch-screen technology that will allow prospective students to explore more information about K-State, although it is not up and running yet.

“I expect that the new features that are yet to be fully implemented, like the interactive screens in the Great Room area, those will continue to provide a wow factor that we’ve really been meaning to achieve with the project,” Lehning said.

Another technological opportunity provided in the center is the option for video interviews to take place. The Career Center provides this video chat equipment, which is available for students to use for upcoming online interviews.

Overall, Meitler said the transition to the Berney Family Welcome Center has been helpful and effective at improving the services provided to all K-State students.

“I think, holistically, we’re able to offer a more seamless delivery of career services at K-State, bringing together a resource that was primarily used by first year students…. [is] now going to be in the same building where they can continue to get all of the developmental steps of career readiness while they’re here,” Meitler said.

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My name is Emily Moore and I'm a senior majoring in English and mass communications with a minor in leadership. I love to read, write and edit. During my free time, I enjoy doing crossword puzzles, rock climbing and spending time with my friends.