A Q&A with LaTonia Ferguson
LaTonia Ferguson is the Learning and Organizational Development Consultant for the Office of Human Resources. We recently spoke to Ferguson about the career development services her office provides.
Q: What career services are available to Notre Dame staff?
A: We offer everything from group learning programs to one-on-one counseling. We also offer access to a variety of tools or assessments to help people identify what career choice is the best fit and how to get there.
Q: What do the assessments measure, and how can people take advantage of them?
A: Career suitability assessments like the Harrison assessment can help you determine which career paths are best suited for you. Personality assessments like Myers-Briggs or the Holland Occupational Themes test can help you understand your natural strengths, what motivates you and what sort of people you interact with best. We offer these in addition to our counseling and training programs, and staff can get a good introduction to them through our ‘Managing My Career’ learning program.
Q: You recently wrapped up the first offering of a new program, Interview Prep 101. Tell us about that program.
A: It was a two-part program that began in February with a classroom session on interviewing skills for about 30 participants. Then in March, each of the participants came back for an actual mock interview. The interview lasted 30 minutes, followed by 15 minutes of feedback and a written evaluation.
Q: What kind of response did you get?
A: People loved it. Interviewing is the number one struggle people have when looking for a new opportunity. In the classroom session, people weren’t comfortable selling themselves. But once they understood an interview really is about promoting your strengths, they were able to do it more confidently. We had one participant who earned her IVY Tech associate degree through the University’s Learning at Work Academy. She’s ready to advance her career, and she has the skills and abilities to do so. She’s had several interviews since then, and we were able to give her some good feedback after her mock interview to help her fine-tune those skills. She was very appreciative.
Q: OK, here’s the awkward question: It seems odd for the University to help its own staff find different jobs. Why would we do that?
A: Everybody gets to a point in their career where they’re ready to take on new responsibilities or opportunities because they’ve learned a new skill or they’ve enhanced an existing one. The University is continuously growing— the Campus Crossroads project is one example—and we want the people who are here to be prepared for those new opportunities when they arise. That keeps institutional knowledge here, it keeps our talent here and it helps the organization be as healthy as it can be.
Q: And how do our managers feel about all this?
A: This is Notre Dame. One of our core values is leadership in excellence, and our managers know that means helping our employees find those opportunities and those right fits. So while the occasional staffing transition may be a temporary challenge, they know in the end it’s best for everyone and for the University. Besides, managers are employees too, and they want to grow as well!
Q: Who is eligible to get career assistance from your office?
A: Any full- or part-time Notre Dame staff or faculty member. Just browse our website at hr.nd.edu/careerdevelopment to sign up for an upcoming training program, or call us to make an appointment.
For more information about the Career Services Office, contact askHR at 574-631-5900 or askHR@nd.edu.
This story was originally published in NDWorks.