Tag Archive | "Toppel Career Center"

UK Donors Help Students  ‘Aim for the Stars’


UK Donors Help Students ‘Aim for the Stars’

British donors will finance a London immersion trip for 20 students who are interested in global careers.

By Barbara Gutierrez
UM News

LondonCORAL GABLES, Fla. (June 22, 2016) – A group of University of Miami students will witness the complexities of globalization first hand, including the fallout from the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union, when they travel to London for the inaugural international Toppel Career Crawl.

The Toppel Career Center has partnered with a pair of London-based donors to provide a once-in-a-lifetime experience for 20 students. The lucky group will take part in a London Career Crawl, an immersion trip aimed at providing industry insights, networking opportunities, and cultural outings.

“UM aims to develop students into leaders of the world, so we hope the London Career Crawl will play a part in helping them build meaningful global careers,” said Christian Garcia, associate dean and executive director. “Many of our students express an interest in working abroad, and it’s our job to help them develop the skills, knowledge, and connections that will take them there.”

The London Career Crawl will be held the week of the fall academic break, October 16-21. Sophomores and juniors who are interested in participating must apply by August 31.

The immersion trip is generously supported financially and logistically by a British couple who are members of the UM Parents Council. Colin Potter is founder and partner of Global Legal Search, an executive search company established in 2002, and his wife, Clare E. Woodman, is global chief operating officer for Institutional Securities of Morgan Stanley. Their son, Thomas, is a rising junior at UM.

The couple, first-generation college graduates who came from humble beginnings, hope that the educational trip will include students who otherwise would not have the opportunity for such an experience, said Potter.

“Both my wife and I were fortunate to have had the opportunity to work in different countries during our careers,” said Potter. “We wanted to give some UM students, particularly first-generation college students, the opportunity to see a major international city like London and to meet people from a diverse range of global organizations. Hopefully the trip will inspire them to aim for the stars when it comes to their own career ambitions.”

While in London, the students will be able to explore career paths and opportunities in a global work environment and engage in interactive visits to employer sites, including Morgan Stanley’s London office, the London office of New York-based White & Case, an international law firm, as well as a London advertising agency and other major business organizations in a variety of sectors.

Students also will visit professional hubs such as the London Stock Exchange, attend receptions with UM alumni and other professionals living and working in London, enhance their career readiness by learning what they should do now to successfully transition into a global workforce after graduation, and discover what it’s really like to live and work abroad.

The Toppel Career Center launched the Career Crawl initiative in April 2016 with two domestic crawls, one in downtown Miami, which focused on nonprofits, and one in Washington, D.C., where students learned about government and public service.

The London Career Crawl is open to undergraduate students in any University of Miami school or college who will be sophomores or juniors at the time of the trip. There is no cost, though students are responsible for securing and purchasing the necessary documents to travel abroad, i.e. passport and/or visa.

Interested students must submit an online application by August 31, 2016. Students chosen to move forward in the selection process will give a brief presentation/interview on how they hope the experience will enhance their career readiness.

For more information and to apply, students should contact Hilary Kautter Allsopp at [email protected].




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Toppel Career Center’s Garcia, Haimes Honored by NACE

By Barbara Gutierrez
UM News

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (April 12, 2016) – Two members of the Toppel Career Center have been honored with national awards from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), the leading association for career services at nearly 2,000 colleges and universities nationwide.

Christian Garcia, associate dean and executive director of Toppel, was honored with the Mentor of the Year Award, while Samantha Haimes, associate director for career readiness, has won NACE’s Rising Star Award.

The annual awards recognize outstanding work at the national level. The Mentor of the Year Award recognizes an individual who has selflessly demonstrated leadership and the ability to serve as a quality mentor to one or more individuals. Garcia, who has worked at UM since 2001, has mentored several young professionals through the NACE mentoring program for the past three years.

One of those he mentored was Jeffrey L. Alston, assistant director of Employer Relations and Internships at The College of Brockport- SUNY. Alston nominated Garcia for the award and in his nominating letter said, “The growth I have experienced through this relationship has been exponential.” He also noted that Garcia offered tips and advice that helped him improve in his job, including how to facilitate group discussions and presentations.

“My mentor has exceeded the title of mentor and has become my Career Services Big Brother,” said Alston.

“Of all the awards that I could ever win, this one means the world to me because it recognizes the deep relationships I have made through the NACE Mentorship Program,” said Garcia, who holds a Master of Science from Florida State University. “I have learned from my mentees, just as they have learned from me, and that’s what makes this program such a rewarding experience. I was truly surprised and touched by the honor.”

Haimes, who has a Master of Science in Education from UM, has been working at Toppel since 2012. Her award recognizes her strong leadership potential and contributions to the career services profession and the NACE organization. It comes with a $1,500 prize from Spelman Johnson, a premier executive search firm committed to serving higher education.

“This award means so much to me,” said Haimes. “It is such an honor and at the same time a welcomed responsibility to rise to the occasion and continue to contribute to the field of career services, to students, and to my colleagues alike. I feel very proud, humbled, and motivated.”

The Toppel Career Center’s mission is to help students and alumni develop career-related skills by providing high quality resources, services, programming, and events that will prepare them for a lifetime of career success.

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Students Dress for Success with Sebastian’s Closet


Students Dress for Success with Sebastian’s Closet

By Renee Reneau
UM News

Sebastian's Closet

Senior Miles Holmes turned to Sebastian’s Closet to rent the suit he needed for a job interview and Peace Corps networking event.

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (April 7, 2016) — Clothes don’t make the man or woman. But they can make the job candidate. And with the interview season upon us, the University of Miami’s Toppel Career Center is supporting students in all aspects of career preparation—right down to the threads they wear.

Sebastian’s Closet began as a Student Government initiative in 2015, renting professional clothes for free to degree-seeking students at UM (with the exception of M.B.A., M.D., and law students).

Clothing from Sebastian’s Closet can be rented for various purposes such as Greek events, class presentations, career fairs, and interviews. A wide variety of apparel, including suits and shirts for women and men, is available in just about every size.

“I’m 6’6” so the fact that they had something that fits me was impressive,” said Miles Holmes, a senior majoring in Spanish, who has used Sebastian’s Closet three times since it opened.

“I heard about it through Toppel’s newsletter, and I didn’t have a suit at the time,” said Holmes. “I used the suit I rented for a Peace Corps networking event and an informal interview with Protis Global in Miami.”

The physical experience of wearing clothes affects more than just one’s confidence. According to a 2015 joint study by Columbia University and California State University, professional dress is associated with enhanced conceptual processing.

“I felt confident and appropriately dressed,” said Holmes. “If I hadn’t had that suit, I wouldn’t have gone to any of the networking events.”

Holmes will enroll at Cornell University in the fall to pursue a master’s degree in industrial and labor relations.

Since Sebastian’s Closet opened in September 2015, almost 100 student requests have been filled. Freshman Harrison Kudwitt was one of the first.

“When I bid for Alpha Epsilon Pi, I didn’t know I would need a jacket, so I used Sebastian’s Closet,” said Kudwitt. “It saved me money and stress. It was so quick and easy that a week later my roommate used it.”

Sebastian’s Closet requests can be submitted through the Toppel Career Center website. Students will receive a response within five business days, usually sooner.

Clothing from Sebastian’s Closet is rented at no cost to students. One can even return items unwashed, thanks to a partnership between Toppel and Liberty Cleaners and Laundry on campus.

“It’s a great partnership we have with Liberty Cleaners,” said Carly Smith, assistant director of career education at Toppel, who serves as the coordinator of Sebastian’s Closet. “Students know they have nothing to worry about, except performing their best at interviews.”

Clothing from Sebastian’s Closet is rented for a seven-day period. All items are donated from the greater UM community, and suits are distributed on a first-come first-served basis. Once a reservation is approved through email, students pick up their suits at Toppel, Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“We are always accepting professional clothing donations,” said Smith. “The Closet is only as good as the people who make it happen. I’m proud to be a part of it.”


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UM Hires Peace Corps Recruiter

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UM Hires Peace Corps Recruiter

By Barbara Gutierrez
UM News

Donna Bean

Donna Bean

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (March 16, 2016)—The University of Miami, which ranked No. 25 among medium-sized schools on the Peace Corps 2016 Top Volunteer-Producing Colleges and Universities list, has hired a new Peace Corps recruiter. With an office at the Toppel Career Center, Donna Bean will ensure that UM continues to excel in service to the Peace Corps.

A 2015 graduate of the School of Nursing and Health Studies, Bean served in the Peace Corps in Mozambique from 2009 to 2012, using her skills as a nurse to work with HIV/AIDS patients. Now, as a part-time recruiter, she hopes to attract more UM students by providing one-on-one counseling, organized information sessions, film screenings, and attending other networking events. Currently, 13 UM alumni are serving in the Peace Corps around the world.

“My goal at the U this first year is to establish the presence of Peace Corps on campus,” Bean said. “I have an office on campus and provide weekly office hours for students to come in and ask any and all questions about the Peace Corps.”

Her efforts also include working with the School of School of Education and Human Development, which has a Peace Corps Master’s International program through its Masters in Education, Community and Social Change degree. That program couples a master’s degree with Peace Corps service.

Bean credits former UM President Donna Shalala’s enthusiasm for the Peace Corps for motivating many students to learn more about organization launched in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy. One of the first Peace Corps volunteers, Shalala served in Iran, where she lived in a mud village and taught at an agricultural college, from 1962-1964. It was in the Peace Corps, Shalala always told students, that she became “a citizen of the world.”

“I think her presence and collaboration with the Peace Corps has been a wonderful influence on the campus and our student body,” Bean said, noting that UM students have been participating in the service organization since its inception.



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Toppel Center Director Transforms Lives through Art

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Toppel Center Director Transforms Lives through Art

By Steve Pierre
Special to UM News

Christian Garcia is inspired daily by gaping void works at the Toppel Career Center.

Christian Garcia knew Gapingvoid’s works would help the Toppel Career Center achieve its mission of inspiring students and visitors alike.

Fire. The Internet. Selfies.

Changes in culture have defined human lives throughout the ages. At the Toppel Career Center on the University of Miami’s Coral Gables campus, change has been top-of-mind for as long as Christian Garcia, associate dean and executive director of the center, can remember.

“I love the word culture. It’s something we’ve been focusing on for many years at Toppel,” said Garcia. “We’re in a permanent state of reinvention.” For Garcia and his colleagues, part of that reinvention came in the winter of 2014 as the career center was poised to move into its new building and new location on Ponce de Leon Boulevard.

State-of-the-art furniture, large bright spaces, and multiple rooms welcomed the staff into their new home, but there was something missing. “I knew we needed to bring this building to life somehow,” he said. Upon returning from the holiday break, a former colleague presented him with a special gift: a Gapingvoid book featuring images of various art pieces touching on entrepreneurship.

“I remember flipping through [the book] and falling in love not only with the illustrations, but with the messages conveyed through them,” Garcia recalls. “They were very tongue in cheek and modern, and in the back of my mind, here I was, in this building that had nothing on the walls, knowing that we needed to bring this building to life somehow.”

At the end of the book, Garcia knew it had fallen into his hands for a reason. “I saw that they [Gapingvoid] were based in Miami Beach, and the first thing I did was give them a call to ask if they would consider a full-scale installation of their art at an institution of higher education,” Garcia explained. Soon after the call, Jason Korman, co-founder and CEO, Hugh MacLeod, co-founder and creative director, and their team were at the Toppel Career Center.

Gapingvoid provides creative services based on the drawings and sensibilities of MacLeod, who in this case, was more than excited at the prospect of helping Garcia achieve his goal of creating a dynamic space for visitors. Over the month leading up to the building’s dedication ceremony, the Gapingvoid team observed the staff and their interactions with students, alumni, and partner companies. As Gapingvoid roamed the hallways of Toppel, they began picking out messaging that would be included for certain areas of the building based on the area’s purpose.

“One of the things I thought was interesting from the beginning was how they actually wanted to partner with us to create personalized pieces for our spaces, rather than have us select from their existing pieces,” said Garcia. “We believed in what they did, but they also wanted to learn about us and understand our vision and what we do.”

That partnership led to continuous dialogue resulting in 80 unique pieces of art curated specifically for the center.

“I knew that we had a huge responsibility to add a sense of inspiration for our students and visitors,” Garcia said. “There were so many options we could have gone with, but Gapingvoid inspired us with their elements of motivation through art.”

With no expectations set in stone about what the building should look like, Garcia and his team were able to capitalize on the opportunity to inspire not only visitors to the center, but themselves as well, by transforming their workspace.

“The art is inspiring and motivating because it is so unique and eccentric. It makes a simple task like walking down the hall more fun and engaging,” said Samantha Haimes, associate director of career readiness and staff member at Toppel since 2012.

Haimes attributes Gapingvoid’s pieces to a visually and mentally stimulating setting for herself and her colleagues. “I constantly find myself noticing pieces that I haven’t given much attention to in the past or haven’t thought about the same way, which makes my everyday work environment more exciting.”

The staff has even found themselves infusing the pieces into their presentations with students, employers, and alumni.

One of Haimes’ favorites, “Inspire, Be Inspired,” motivates her to help students follow their passions, while others continuously inspire her. This has resulted in a positive experience for students, especially those who have an opportunity to work with the staff at Toppel.

“The artwork conveys the message that you can do anything you put your mind to, and creates an inspiring environment that is supported by the Toppel team,” said Amelia Abe, a junior marketing major and student employee at the center.

“When it comes down to it, we’re spending more time in our workspace than we do at home. We spend a lot of time making sure our home looks a certain way, so why not expand that to our workspace?” Garcia explained. “As beautiful as your home or office may be, even a small change such as adding artwork can go a long way.”

He also believes that knowing the purpose of your work, your environment, and your primary audience is critical when considering this type of transformation. In this case, Garcia felt that what Gapingvoid had to offer in terms of innovative art was just right. “Gapingvoid inspired us with their personalized pieces that are motivational, thought-provoking, and contemporary.”

More than a year later, and with the collection now at a total of 85 pieces, the artwork continues to serve as a daily reminder for the Toppel team of their goals day in and day out. “We really believe in working hard and being passionate about what we do. We have fun, but we take our work seriously,” said Garcia.

The walls immerse visitors in the true purpose of the center and explain more than any presentation or flyer could ever do. “Sometimes you have to take a chance on transforming your workspace. With one change you can truly make a positive impact on cultural transformation.”

DIRECCT Talk focuses on the ways faculty and staff exemplify the DIRECCT values—diversity, integrity, respect, excellence, compassion, creativity, and teamwork—that drive UM’s culture.

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