WC alum gives back by helping Poets navigate professional life
ASST. OPINIONS EDITOR
Matthew Aranda is a Whittier College alumnus who found his prefered career right in the arms of the Poet family. He marks his goals and passions at Whittier as making his alma mater better and helping students to grow into their careers. Aranda graduated in 2016 with a Bachelor of Arts in English and a minor in Business and started working at the Career Center in 2014 as a student staff member. Aranda fondly remembers his opportunity to step into an Interim role after graduation, chalking it up to “being in the right place at the right time,” but, really, Aranda’s work ethic shows for itself. He was more than qualified for this position. “I strive to perform a position above me, so I rise to the occasion,” said Aranda.
As the Marketing Coordinator Office Manager, Aranda describes his career as “making sure everyone knows about the Career Center, and that the Career Center folks here are doing some good work.” Aranda uses this term “good work” often as a way of saying he is making a difference, not only in students’ lives, but in his own. His day-to -day entails sending out informative emails, advising students, and overseeing the student staff team.
As a professional staff member at Whittier College, Aranda has stepped away from students working at the Career Center being ‘just’ student staff. “’Just’ is a bad word. It minimizes your experience,” said Aranda. So, to create change for students, Aranda created six unique positions within the Career Center itself. These include Handshake Connection Collaborator, Project Management Operation Support, Data & Marketing Analyst, Campus Relation Marketing Collaborator, Image Artist, and Communication/Language Artist. This is a small example of how Aranda and the Career Center, as a whole, work to show students what they do and the values of their roles on a résumé.
The common theme throughout the interview was that Aranda genuinely wants to help students in finding their next steps. His dedication is sincere. He said, “I’m just a person. I’m a person who graduated from here, who really wants to connect [students] with the best resources possible to get [them] where [they] want to go.” His biggest fear is that students who do not come into the Career Center will get a job, not a career. He helped to dissect this by saying, “A lot of students think a job is to sustain yourself, to pay your bills, but a career is something you pursue. It’s personal, and a lot more meaningful.”
Upon talking to him, he did not portray that stereotype that we are a statistic about unemployed graduates that needs to decrease. There was a personal nature in his drive. As Aranda explained, this is not a job for him. It is a career and his passion is evident.
When asked how long he would like to stay at Whittier College, his answer was simple and sure: “I think I’m doing good work in terms of what I love. I want to be here until my good work is finished.” When asked what advice he can give students who are afraid to visit the Career Center, Aranda agreed that it is intimidating, but, he said, “You don’t want to be the second-semester senior who doesn’t know what they’re going to do after graduation.” With all the resources and personable faculty dying to help students, Poets should feel secure that setting appointments with the College’s resources will bring them the support and advice they seek. But, he re-stated, “I’m just a person.” He pointed out that he likes “nerdy things.” His office is decked in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, I Love Lucy, and a plush Eevee Pokémon doll.
Though what the Career Center focuses on can be stressful and real, that does not mean the team working there reflects those concerns in the working area. Aranda is an approachable man with his own interests, not a robot programmed and determined to find students a job. He is a person with a passion for what he does, performing with the full intention of making a difference in as many lives as possible, and he is well on his way.
The Career Center is located near the entrance of the Campus Inn, directly above the mail room. Poets can schedule an appointment with a career counselor by using their Whittier College sign-in at app.joinhandshake.com.