CAT prepares students for the future

Photo of the do's and don'ts of interview attire.
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By Aide Barrientos
Pulse Staff Reporter

The Center for Academic Transitions at Palo Alto College is well-known to students for all transferring and graduation needs, but the center also provides more than what it’s known for.

Besides giving students a pathway to graduating and transferring successfully to their four-year university of choice, the center also offers volunteer opportunities, internship sources, resume help and job interview tips.

Micaela B. Sanchez, adviser for the Transfer Center, said that the services that they provide are good for students from their first day on campus until they graduate.

“We are here to help, here to get them ready,” Sanchez said.

Sanchez also said that the center partners with Palo Alto’s own Writing Assistance Center for help in proofreading students’ resumes for job applications. They also partner with outside resources, some of which come to the college to offer job fairs and information on openings.

For students looking for volunteer opportunities, the center connects them to both local and outside sources. As for internships, Sanchez said that they guide students by choosing internships best benefitting their major so they can have an early experience in that field. Both services give students information in the city that offer these opportunities.

The service of job interview tips and preparation is more extensive. The advisers prepare students before their interviews through workshops on how to appropriately dress, answer questions, anticipate the outcomes and research the company or organization.

“Students may ask for a mock interview where they will be expected to dress up and make as if they were being interviewed for an actual job,” Sanchez said. This gives students a trial experience.

The advisers will then give an honest assessment of the student’s performance and their overall appearance. From there, the advisers will give any guidance or advice toward improvement.

Logistics major Timothy McMahon, a graduate of Palo Alto College, heard of the service when Senior Coordinator Rose Medrano told him of what they offered. Since then, McMahon, a veteran, began the process of preparing for a government job that he came across with the advisers help.

“Every time I’ve been in that building, I’ve been helped by those people,” McMahon said.

Advisers for the center worked around his schedule and provided McMahon with one-on-one help. Sanchez was among those who advised and prepared him for a personal interview and an online interview where he went through “an intense online questionnaire” and also gained skills in resume writing and essay writing.

The center is not recognized or used by most students for more than transferring or helping with graduation. SDEV classes are supposed to make sure that the students taking that required class know of the CAT, yet many students do not know of all the available services offered.

One of those students is Sandy A. Medina, a sophomore Education major who has never once attended the center and has received very little information on the services that they provide. Upon learning of the center, Medina said she would have liked to have known of the job interview preparations when she first started college here at PAC.

“I’ve never been there, but I think that’s really good because when I went to my first interview, I didn’t know what to expect. In interviews, they ask questions that are difficult, and I had to think from the top of my head,” Medina said.

The Center for Academic Transitions is located in the Student Center. Their hours are from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Walk-ins are welcome. For career services, though, students must make appointments at the entrance desk of the center.

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