Career Expert Nikki Cook Shares How FIDM Presentations are Preparing Moreno Valley College Students for Jobs
Meet Nikki Cook, Employment Placement Coordinator for the Career and Technical Education Program at Moreno Valley College, whose collaboration with FIDM’s Community & Educational Affairs department is preparing students for careers from graphic design to cybersecurity.
The Career and Technical Education (CTE) program offered at Moreno Valley College includes students in the sheriff's and fire academy, EMT and paramedic programs, and health programs, including social work, dental hygiene, and medical assistantships. For the past four years, Cook has developed an extensive network of employers, faculty, and industry experts to help students in the program find internships, assistantships, and long-term careers. One of these connections is with FIDM College Representative Patty Phelps, whose presentations “Tools to Land the Job” and “Job Ready Dress” have helped students successfully navigate the virtual job market.
When Cook collaborates with Phelps, the workshops are geared towards students of all disciplines. Since Moreno Valley College is a two-year community college, the curriculum is catered to a diversity of students, from high school students in the middle college program to retired professionals looking to acquire new skills. Cook employs FIDM’s presentations into the CTE workshops to assist in the allocation of jobs and career paths for the variety of students at the college. “If there is a resume workshop, I want everybody, not just the CTE students, to attend,” remarked Cook. She does this by promoting workshops via social media, email blasts, and flyers around campus. “I also want students to know how they should appear and how they should dress for an interview,” said Cook, “It’s not just for an in-person interview, but for a virtual interview as well. They need to know that you can't be in your pajamas when you’re doing your virtual interview. Employers are going to see you, and they are going to look at you more than they would at an in-person interview.”
Cook’s incorporation of FIDM’s presentations focused on how to stay ahead of the job market have helped students in the CTE program and beyond, including the most recent success of an Information Technology student who attended “Tools to Land a Job” in November of last year. After sending his resume to Cook, she recommended that he attend the presentation to learn how to professionally present his past work experiences in his resume. Cook noticed a dramatic change in the format of the resume after he attended the presentation. “It was like night and day,” she commented. Cook then sent his resume to one of the employers in the CTE network, and the student was immediately interviewed and was hired within several weeks. Now, he is one of the company’s top-performing employees. “He showed up at the presentation, he listened, he paid attention, and he did his revisions,” said Cook. “When I went over his resume, I didn’t really have any corrections for him. That is what the goal is.”
Cook enjoys having Phelps present FIDM presentations in her workshops as it “really hits home with the students to have somebody from the outside who is an expert in that category.” She elaborated, “It’s been very helpful and we have good turnouts when FIDM participates with us in the workshops. It’s so important that they attend these workshops, because they are the tools that help them land the job later on.”
For the past year, Cook has held 100% of the workshops virtually due to COVID-19. This transition has not only boosted attendance, but accommodates students with varying schedules and long commutes. “When I ask my students if they like going virtual,” Cook said, “they say it’s so much more convenient for them. They can just hop on their phone or computer.” Cook’s ability to provide the materials and information for students to apply and establish careers is the core of her career. “My job is to place them in a job that they are going to want to stay in as a career.” Cook plans on continuing to offer these workshops and FIDM presentations via Zoom, as well as in-person when they are back on campus. “We want to make it easy for them [students] to attend, and if it’s something that can help them, then I have done my job.”