Peer Career Advisor Program Supports Students as They Navigate Internship and Job Opportunities

May 14, 2024

Peer career advisors

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s Center for Career and Professional Development introduced its new Peer Career Advisor (PCA) program during the Fall 2023 semester, culminating in a successful inaugural year in Spring 2024. This student-support initiative has provided a platform for current RPI students to foster community and offer career guidance to peers across all majors and academic levels, encompassing both undergraduate and graduate students.

In its pilot year, the program comprised seven dedicated students: Jayashree Balaraman ’26, Julie Buckley ’25, Jacob Fuhr ’25, Haley Gonnella ’25, Madeleine McNairn ’24, Emily Ngo ’24, and Sean Rufus ’24. These PCAs facilitated drop-in hours and conducted career advising appointments, extending support to their peers in various areas such as resume and cover letter critiques, LinkedIn profile enhancement, professional headshots, and navigating internship search inquiries.

Feedback and data were gathered through a Qualtrics survey administered to students following their appointments. Some students highlighted the effectiveness of their meetings and the welcoming atmosphere provided by PCAs: “The PCA was exceptionally friendly and attentive throughout the session. They went above and beyond by suggesting numerous relevant internship and research opportunities based on my resume,” and “Clear, concise, and friendly. Overall, extremely helpful.”

Other feedback underscored an increase in confidence following meetings with a PCA: “I'm very satisfied with my visit. I now feel much more confident about my next steps, and the PCA was instrumental in guiding me,” and “An attentive listener with extensive knowledge in career readiness. They assisted me in applying to multiple firms.”

The PCA program has created another layer of community at RPI — allowing students across different majors to work together and support one another through the career journey. Students being able to relate to and hear from others who have been through the internship search, especially as they embark on their Arch Away opportunities, has proven very valuable. 

It benefits the PCAs, as well. Not only are PCAs able to hone their leadership, communication, and teamwork skills, they gain practical experience working in an office setting and working alongside a diverse and talented student body.

The program will continue into the next academic year.


Written By Katie Malatino
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