Finding New Opportunities in the Challenges

Finding New Opportunities in the Challenges

The same challenges we have faced in our lives and careers due to COVID-19 have also created deep new opportunities to serve our students. For me as a career counselor, FPU’s virtual appointment option means more students than ever before are booking appointments. Whether it’s helping students find jobs after COVID-related layoffs, working through fears about the career-exploration process or having the chance to meet in brand new ways—during car lunch breaks, in the evenings and while parents are at home with their children—the chances to serve and be served have increased greatly.

I’m inspired by these possibilities. As one example, let me give you a peek into one of my most rewarding days, back in September 2021:

The time had come to finally get to meet a group of students face-to-face instead of screen-to-screen. I would have a day of in-person appointments with the students I am dedicated to help—those at regional campuses. As I set up a classroom as a counseling space at the North Fresno Campus, I felt a thrill of excitement, and a few nerves, to meet with 10 students back-to-back. They had all signed up for career support, and questions stirred my mind: Would they feel nervous about meeting in person? How would they feel about their career path in the middle of a pandemic? What would be needed to truly support them right now?

Then there was a knock on the door and the first student walked in. With excitement in her step, she sat down and jumped right in, speaking with vulnerability and honesty. One by one, every 30 minutes, students showed up. Each one shared openly about their fears, hopes and career goals, providing me one of the richest opportunities I’ve been able to experience in my career. They inspired me to listen intently, encourage enthusiastically and support and challenge their growth in new ways. Although I asked a few open-ended questions, I noticed these students had spent the last year and a half deeply pondering many of their career questions and aspirations—each one was not only ready to take action in their professional life, they had already begun making bold moves!

When I arrived home that evening, my husband commented I had extra energy and spring in my own step. He was right! I was thrilled to be able to engage with students in a meaningful way during a critical season of their journey. I was impacted by the depth, passion and courage these Sunbirds demonstrated and felt proud to witness the drive and grit in every single individual. What happens to FPU students and their career paths during a pandemic? What I found is that they grow stronger, persevere through the challenges and develop ways to cultivate new opportunities. Did they feel a sense of trepidation or lack of confidence in the middle of this season? Absolutely! But the resolve to continue forward and push ahead with resilience was much stronger.

Fresno Pacific is a place where students have the opportunity to develop and grow through an excellent education both inside and outside the classroom. Making that excellence possible, despite challenges, is why we’re all here. This season as a career counselor has given me a front row seat to that education as I get to experience students’ successes firsthand, and what an honor it is.


Corrie Hawes

Career Counselor, Career Development & Experiential Learning Center