By Eilene Zimmerman
Diana Saldivar, Social Media Coordinator, San Diego Metro Region Career Centers
For years, Diana Saldivar worked in academic advising at colleges in San Diego, helping students to either navigate university studies or meet their matriculation needs.
But in 2010, when the California State University (CSU) system implemented broad budget cuts, Saldivar lost her job. She spent the next two years working part-time, trying to keep her foot in college and career advising, until she was hired in 2012 to be an employment training advisor for the San Diego Metro Region Career Center (SDMRCC). SDMRCC is a workforce development center that offers job and skills training, as well as career transition help, to job seekers.
Within a few months Saldivar began the UC San Diego Extension’s Career Advising Specialized Certificate Program, offered on-site at SDMRCC through Extension’s Custom Training department. The program is designed to bring WIB/Workforce Partnership Career Advisors the latest information on current economic trends, coaching techniques, career-building strategies and interpersonal communications. “As new career agents, many of us came from different professional backgrounds, so each of us needed to have the same understanding of the scope of career advising,” said Saldivar. Some career advisors had come from academia and nonprofits; others had been case managers for veterans and other populations in need of career services. Advisors like Saldivar worked with individuals in all stages of work or life, including those transitioning into new fields, students looking for a first job, veterans re-entering the job market and employees facing retirement.
The Career Advising Certificate Program included three courses: one that taught foundational principles for career advisors, a skills development course and another that honed in on specialty populations within career advising. Saldivar said she was impressed by the rigor of the curriculum and the topics covered, especially in the first course, which gave an overview of the history of workforce development. “The goal was for us to learn how our career center worked within the bigger system and the entire field,” she said. The final course, which focused on areas of specialization, was designed like a seminar and featured a capstone project to apply the newly developed certificate skills to a specific local challenge.
Three months after she finished the Certificate, Saldivar was promoted to social media coordinator. She has been in that position for about a year, applying what she learned in the program. Specifically, Saldivar is equipped with the knowledge to identify communication barriers with groups like veterans, enabling her to reach out to them more effectively. “I’m better able to understand how to reach the populations we target and I can tailor our marketing campaigns and branding to those audiences.”
As the job hunt process has rapidly and dramatically changed with the growth of social networking tools such as LinkedIn, Saldivar also applies what she learned in the program in her social media workshops. “I teach clients how to use social media as a career tool,” she said. “I use much of what I learned in the program related to how professionals should represent themselves online and showcase their skills.”
UC San Diego Extension’s Corporate Training department offers customized professional training and employee development for organizations of all sizes. Each program is tailored to fit an organization’s needs, from curriculum options to delivery format. One of the many benefits of corporate training is the outcome of high-performing teams. Training employees together cements new skills, develops a common language, builds confidence and increases employee engagement. For Saldivar, this was one of the best parts of the program. “I was fairly new to the profession when I started the program and it was great to be able to talk to other colleagues about their experiences and about their best practices,” she said. “I learned so much from the interaction in class with both other students and teachers.”