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Eleanor Sanchez

New Direction for Career Services

Eleanor Sanchez, the new executive director for the Center for Career Services, says she hopes to make the growing center still more effective for students by emphasizing customer service and developing a four-year career program to meet students' changing needs during their time at the College.

Sanchez comes to the position from Albuquerque, where she was director of career services for 23,000 students at the University of New Mexico. She succeeds Eileen Kohan, who left nearly a year ago for the University of Southern California. Sue Mescher, associate dean of administration, had been overseeing career services on an interim basis while a search was conducted for a director.

Among Sanchez's visions for Columbia is a career core curriculum that would parallel students' academic progress. In a series of workshops, activities and events, students would work their way through a four-year career curriculum starting with exploring the options as first years and moving on to how to attain those dream jobs through networking, interviewing and other skills of today's savvy graduate. Tailoring programs to each year in school would mirror the new organization of the academic advising system, which became class-based last year.

Sanchez, who began in her new position on August 9, says she wants to increase student involvement with the center in East Campus by making it "a warm and inviting place students want to come." The space is currently being renovated as part of a project to be completed in December that will add more interviewing rooms to accommodate on-campus recruiters, as well as improve the lighting and other aspects of the center.

As for on-campus recruiting, Sanchez says that the scope and type of companies who come to campus to interview could be expanded, and that she will use some of her non-New York contacts to help bring outside companies to the campus.

She wants to build up the center's web resources and add more technical training such as job-hunting over the Internet, which recently has mushroomed with job database sites such as Monster Board. However, she also envisions more personal interaction among the center staff, students and alumni. "The technology should augment the relationships and contact," she said of electronic resources. "We want to maintain a collaboration."

Sanchez intends to be involved in one-on-one career counseling. "Personal contact is a priority," she said. "I learn how we're serving them and also the mindset of the students as they go through school."

Sanchez, who was at New Mexico for four years prior to joining Columbia, has an open, friendly style and a nurturing demeanor that should be welcomed by the students. At UNM she served as chair of the Excellence in Customer Service Committee.

"I'm very strong on customer service. Everyone who comes in the door is a customer and part of our client base," she said.

As the semester begins, Sanchez is analyzing the existing Center for Career Services and perceptions of it by meeting with its staff, users and others who interact with it. "I'm not new to the career industry. What I need to get is the Columbia perspective," she said.

Sanchez has three grown children and has herself followed a diverse career path. In addition to working as an account executive at AT&T, the Los Angeles native has run her own consulting business for human resources and career counseling, served as city clerk in Albuquerque and assistant deputy mayor in L.A. She is also a pilot who opened her own flight school in the late 1970s.

"Statistics say people will have five careers," she said. "I'm anticipating and expecting this will be my final career."