A&M's CDS Offers Important, Year-Round Support
What Makes a Placement Director Smile?
Because Yvette Clayton is so gung ho, excited and accomplished at what she does, it's often easy to forget that she's responsible for a very serious university function. As director of Career Development Services, she has proven her willingness to utilize every innovation and trick in the book to give Alabama A&M University students that placement edge among employers. The well-tuned spring Career Fair is but one tool in an expanding arsenal.
Some 30 student volunteers played a key role in helping the recent AAMU Career Fair run smoothly. For instance, several Bulldogs from various registered student organizations (RSOs) assist employers in carrying in their company materials, checking in, and finding their booths. The students also are available to assist those employers who decide to check in electronically. Last semester, students representing the National Society of Black Engineers served as the key volunteer organization. Student organizations MANUP and NSLS carried the torch for the spring 2022 semester.
“We encourage students to check out all career fair participants, large and small,” stated Clayton. “The STEM students tend to gravitate towards high-tech companies. They learn that workplace environments vary and that finding a great fit—projects and culture—is the most important.”
Clayton admits that her duties as director of Career Development Services at AAMU encompasses a much broader scope than her previous duties assigned while at Chicago State University. “Here, I serve the entire campus and work with all faculty, staff and deans, the provost and sometimes the president. I have also had the opportunity to spearhead the relaunch of our Industry and Government Cluster.”
The native Alabamian says the placement effort on The Hill has grown significantly over the years. “We have expanded our outreach and have seen steady increases in employer participation over the last seven years,” said Clayton. “The George Floyd tragedy was eye-opening for many employers and resulted in a commitment to diversity and inclusion. Our fall career fair employer participation has increased more than 80 percent from 2019 to 2022.”
CDS aims to serve the entire campus and to have employers represent all majors at AAMU, said Clayton. As the disciplines of Biology, Sport Management, Communications Media, and Human/Behavioral Science/Public Affairs begin to expand, CDS has actively sought out more employers from those distinct areas.
“We are making headway with previously underserved majors, such as Food Science and Family and Consumer Sciences,” noted Clayton. “We want all students to see employers that they would like to work for at the career fair. However, we also show students that there are thousands more employers on the Handshake platform. I want to dismiss the myth that CDS only serves [engineering] and business students. We are here to serve all Bulldogs!”
Clayton said she enjoys “seeing students connect with employers and hearing them (employers) say how well our Bulldogs present themselves.” Some students share with CDS that they have received multiple offers through their participation at the career fair.
“We are committed to helping ‘Bulldogs Start Here, Go Anywhere,’” Clayton said. “The career fair provides a wonderful opportunity for our students to secure internship, co-op, and career opportunities, and, since the CDS team works hard year-round, students can always stop by for assistance.”
- J. Saintjones