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The new career readiness program getting results at a South Coast University

Students at Cal State Channel Islands had headshots taken as part of a career readiness class
Caroline Feraday
Students at Cal State Channel Islands had headshots taken as part of a career readiness class

Cal State Channel Islands is helping students get ready for future employment.

Photographer Whitney Howard, is shooting headshots of students at Cal State Channel Islands.

It feels like picture day at school, says student Gabe Hoffman.

"I got all dressed up this morning. I'm like, wow, I'm a senior in college. And this is like, I'm taking headshots. This is so different than what I'm used to, but it still feels like an elementary school, middle school picture day. It feels like a, you know, dress up and have fun kind of. So it's been nice. It's a nice way to start the day," he said.

"I would say professional headshots [are] excellent for LinkedIn," explained Jessica Muth the Director of Career Success Initiatives at the Martin V Smith School of Business and Economics and the Professor for Business 411 at Cal State Channel Islands.

"I also have an assignment that we call a professional branding assignment, which is the students are creating an email signature," continued Muth. "So when those students are reaching out for an informational interview, a career conversation, it just gives a better chance at that student getting a yes, like a yes to a conversation, a yes to a coffee."

"We all get so many emails, and as much as we all would love to pay it forward and connect with a student, sometimes the emails just get lost. So whatever we can do for the student to kind of stand out," Muth says.

The class is pretty new, but already, says Muth, students are landing good jobs after taking it.

"So last semester was the first time launching this class. Students could take it voluntarily. This fall, it's required and it is required for all graduating students in the MBA School of Business and Economics. And I had three students, before they ended the class, land excellent jobs," said Muth.

The class was launched to help people holding diplomas to actually get real world jobs, as a response to California Governor Gavin Newsom's executive order creating a master plan for career education in the state. For students like Hoffman, it's a way to not just set goals, but to build a path towards achieving them.

"I think the personality testing has been really cool. It's like getting an inside look of like, 'Oh, I see how like my brain works' and I see that I do like these things that it's saying that, you know, might suit my personality or like the way that I think. And so, so far I have kind of realized that in the field that I'm in right now, I feel like I'm in the right place and I kind of see why now," said Hoffman.

And with employers saying they can't fill jobs, most say bridging that disconnect benefits both the student and potential employers.

"There's a dizzying amount of resources right now for students to try to find jobs. And this class teaches them how to search for those jobs," said Muth.

"I want them to get interviews because we hear, oh, it's so hard to get a job. But then we also hear employers saying, I cannot fill my positions. So there's a disconnect," she said.

Caroline joined KCLU in October 2020. She won LA Press Club's Audio Journalist of the Year Award in 2022, 2023 and 2024.

Since joining the station she's won 10 Golden Mike Awards, 6 Los Angeles Press Club Awards, 2 National Arts & Entertainment Awards and a Regional Edward R. Murrow Award for Excellence in Writing.

She started her broadcasting career in the UK, in both radio and television for BBC News, 95.8 Capital FM and Sky News and was awarded the Prince Philip Medal for her services to radio and journalism in 2007.

She has lived in California for eleven years and is both an American and British citizen - and a very proud mom to her daughter, Elsie.