Music major Juliana Canuto and Filmmaking and Graphic Design double major Maika Shibata are two of the friendly faces students will see when stopping in at the Career Center for resume and cover letter assistance. Their welcoming presence and writing acumen make the experience rewarding for students at any level of their education.
Both Juliana and Maika have been working as peer advisors for almost two years. During that time they have assisted countless students. When interacting with them, you witness firsthand the passion they have in helping others, as well as understanding the essential role they play within the Career Center. According to Maika, “All I ever care about is helping people in any way I’m fit for, and with the peer coach job description I saw that quite abundantly. The job essentially is helping students prepare for applying to jobs in their dream industries, and that’s such a fulfilling feeling.” For Juliana, student engagement is one of the key aspects of the position that motivates her. “I was struggling a lot in my first semesters at the school, and talking to other students would always be very comforting for me. So, when I read about this position, I knew I had to apply. Helping students feel confident about their career materials and prospects makes me incredibly happy. Hearing that I was helpful at the end of appointments is all I could ask for!”
Though Juliana and Maika might be majoring in different fields, they both have a similar background when it comes to their college experience and how it has differed immensely from high school. As Maika relates, “In high school, I was very independent. I had a lot of struggles with mental health as I was navigating adjusting to medication for my thyroid disorder that I got diagnosed with during the first semester of my freshman year in high school. I had to mature a lot quicker than all the other 15-year-olds. I knew that once I graduated, I wanted to move somewhere where I didn’t know anyone and figure it out on my own–that sounds fun to me, and that’s what I did.” According to Juliana, “High school for me was a little bit of a though time because my school was not a place for me to explore my creativity. There were not a lot of opportunities or openings for me, as all the other students were really focused on other areas, and creative fields was not a priority for my colleagues or teachers. So another thing that attracted me to Columbia was to be surrounded by artists of all areas, a place where I can explore my creative passions with others who share it.”
Outside of working as peer advisors, Juliana and Maika have each excelled in their chosen majors. Makia secured a three-week internship on a film starring Breaking Bad actor RJ Mitte, as well as working on graphic design projects and picking up acting gigs on student and independent projects. Juliana is collaborating with artists and musicians, and is involved in the Latin Ensemble, where she is being directed by Professor Donald Neale.
When it comes to advising style, Maika and Juliana take similar approaches with students as Maika relates, “I keep a friendly, welcoming atmosphere so that they feel comfortable talking to me. I don’t want anyone to feel like I’m better than they are just because I know more about resumes and cover letters. We’re all students and still learning! So, I always make it clear that I’m just here to help and assist them in feeling more confident in their resume building skills.”
For students who might be new, or apprehensive about seeking help, Juliana had these thoughts. “My biggest advice is starting off with just a talk with the front desk or the peer coaches. We are students just like you and we were once scared too. Start off with talking to your fellow peers and then you will most definitely feel more encouraged to talk to the advisors, and you will see how incredibly helpful and kind they all are!”
Career Center student peer advisors are available to meet with students throughout the semester. Students can make appointments through Handshake, or utilize walk-in hours Monday-Friday from roughly 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m.