The Newcomb-Tulane College’s Career Services team is looking to turn the page. Résumé paper preferred.
In January 2020, NTC welcomed Edward “Eddy” Cruz as assistant dean and executive director of NTC career services. Since his arrival, he and career team members have been working diligently to lay a new, stronger foundation for student support. Their intent – to reimagine what career services can be at Tulane.
Cruz comes to the university with over 10 years of professional-level experience in career services. His most recent role was the Director of Career Education at the University of Miami Toppel Career Center. In addition, Cruz carries insight amassed from preceding higher education positions. While working on his master’s degree in student affairs in higher education at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania (’04-’06), Cruz served as a career services graduate assistant. In this role, his work focused on the university’s testing center and its programs that aided students in transitioning to graduate level learning (ex: LSAT or MCAT testing prep). Outside of the testing center responsibilities, Cruz also ran a practice interview program that partnered with various schools and colleges on the campus that served over 700 students annually. Following that, Cruz worked on staff as a residence hall director at the University of Georgia (’06-’08), where he ran two first-year student buildings that housed over 300 students.
His passion, however, remained with career development. Cruz cites working with students one-on-one, meeting them where they are in their career journey, helping them take ownership of their experience, and preparing them for their next steps and beyond as the most fulfilling aspects of his job. He enjoys tackling perceived challenges to help others find continued success.
“Tulane is fortunate to have Eddy,” says NTC Senior Associate Dean of Advising Amjad Ayoubi. “He brings his extensive knowledge and experience in the field to serve our students, employers and the entire Tulane Community. Eddy is committed to providing world class services based on the latest best practices.”
Cruz’s first six months with Tulane have come with no shortage of challenges that require his expertise and innovation. With this new role, Cruz has aspirations for a long-term strategic plan for NTC career services and of uniting Tulane’s Career Council, the career teams outside NTC that service specific student populations (ex: business, public health, architecture), to form a holistic vision. Cruz’s plans also focus on data collection and driving messaging that career services should be a routine, rather than a transactional service.
“Our goal is not just to help them find their first job out of school,” says Cruz. “It’s the education pieces as well. How to do this for a lifetime. Not just their first destination.”
Before he and the NTC career team could hit the ground running with these initiatives or incorporate new ideas, he first had to work with them to ensure their basic needs were being met and basic functions executed. This included fully staffing the team, which has been under or only half-staffed for almost two years.
New members have and will continue to join the career team this summer. Their backgrounds span industries from entrepreneurship, leadership development within higher education, and television production. Cruz asserts that these unique insights will foster new, creative ideas essential in tackling his original goals and another unforeseen challenge – COVID-19.
During a time of limited contact, the more traditional means of connecting with career opportunities are unavailable. Temporarily stalled are in-person career consultations, handshakes, and the ballroom-sized career fairs that students are used to. Not only did Cruz and his team have to find solutions to this sudden and major hitch in programming and services, but they also had to confront the reality that some students’ internships had been cancelled or moved to remote work.
Continuity of service and student support being the upmost priority for NTC, meetings between students, career coaches, and campus recruiters were quickly shifted to Zoom. Feedback for this virtual shift has been somewhat surprising, says Cruz. Some students and career coaches have shared they found their online appointments to be more efficient and engaging, now that waiting room times and treks across campus have been eliminated. Employers are also finding benefits to the switch. They’re saving time, rather than hopping flights, and money, originally allocated for travel. These are two major, invaluable resources that can be poured back into finding new ways to engage with Tulane students.
Cruz and his team have also focused their messaging on reassuring students that they are not alone, and career development and exploration is still possible.
“I think one of the biggest questions employers will have coming out of this is ‘What have you done with that time?’ or ‘What did you do?,’” says Cruz. “They’re going to see what students were able to teach themselves or were able to gain skills…that they can now offer that employer.”
Cruz encourages students to look at ways to develop career skills that may not be as sharp, or that they need to keep sharp to maintain success in their industry. He also says to explore opportunities, even if it means taking on leadership or positions that do not align with their original career plan. Connecting with NTC Career Services or any member of the Tulane Career Council or exploring Tulane’s Handshake job platform are strong first steps in getting started and locating resources or opportunities.
Looking to the fall and what could be the start of this new chapter for career services at Tulane, Cruz is focused on continuing accessibility for students and employers. Melding his initial plans, new insights, new recruiting strategy, and new resources adopted to combat COVID-19 can rewrite what is possible for our university and its students.