‘A Resource and Ally’: New Career Development Coordinator Supports Students’ Professional Growth and Planning

In Cecilia Grinis’s office at the UW School of Veterinary Medicine (SVM), a sign hangs that quotes psychologist and professor Claude Steel.

“‘You are valued in this program because of your academic and professional potential,’” Grinis reads aloud. “‘You have no more to fear than the next person, and since the work is difficult, success is a credit to your ability… A setback is a reflection only of the challenge.’”

portrait of Cecilia Grinis
Cecilia Grinis

After stepping into the administrative position of career development coordinator at the School of Veterinary Medicine, Grinis supports veterinary medical students in accomplishing their academic and professional goals. She navigates uncharted waters as the first person to take on the newly established role.

On a day-to-day basis, Grinis assists with career exploration, resume and cover letter preparation, and contract negotiations. She also plans more in-depth networking opportunities for students, like a Career Exploration Day, to be held at the school on March 23, and a career panel in April featuring first-generation faculty and clinicians.

Grinis knows firsthand the stressors of professional development. It had always been her dream to attend UW-Madison; she counts herself lucky to have earned both an undergraduate and graduate education here. She will receive her master’s degree in Higher Education and Student Affairs Administration in May.

“I believe that my work in career development helps to identify and address gaps in student’s growth and confidence in their job search, which can be very overwhelming,” Grinis says. “It’s important that students have someone who can be a resource and an ally, especially considering that not every student knows exactly what to do next.”

On her first day at the SVM, such work entailed beginning to organize the Career Exploration Day. Thirty employers are now registered to participate. Grinis believes it will be a great opportunity for students to explore potential externships, summer jobs and professional shadowing opportunities. The event will conclude with networking between students and the registered industry leaders over refreshments for a more laid-back experience.

“I believe that my work in career development helps to identify and address gaps in student’s growth and confidence in their job search, which can be very overwhelming. It’s important that students have someone who can be a resource and an ally, especially considering that not every student knows exactly what to do next.”

Additionally, Grinis is coordinating a panel discussion at the SVM alongside Richard Barajas, the school’s director of diversity, equity and inclusion. Several speakers will share their experiences as first-generation university students, faculty members and veterinarians.

“We’re hoping this panel will help build a bridge for students who may feel at a loss or isolated from their peers when it comes to navigating getting a doctorate or veterinary medicine degree,” Grinis says. “They can connect with our speakers to feel more at home and ready to continue on in their degree, especially if they don’t have parents, guardians or family to rely on to hear from their experience.”

She encourages SVM alumni to reach out to explore opportunities to help current students traverse the professional world and invites alumni to connect with peers on the school’s new LinkedIn page. Grinis also reminds alumni that she can help with posting jobs and externships on the school’s online career center.

“I want to learn from alumni in order to be a better support system for current and future students,” she says.

Looking ahead, Grinis feels excited at the prospect of continuing to build on her role as the first career development coordinator. “I’m very passionate about working with students. It’s clear that this is an amazing program,” she adds. “And we have amazing students.”

Alisyn Amant


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