Get to Know HFC: Jessica Miller helps students gain valuable work experience
HFC Career Counselor Jessica Miller started out as a music major.
“I studied music at Central Michigan University, then transferred to Michigan State University, where I majored in English,” she recalled. “I just found it easier to switch majors. I did still play my oboe and take lessons at MSU with a wonderful teacher.”
A Bloomfield Hills native and an alumna of Andover High School, Miller earned her bachelor’s degree in English with minors in journalism, theatre, and music from MSU. She later earned her master's degree in guidance and counseling from Eastern Michigan University.
The youngest of three, Miller has been married to Lawrence for 29 years, and they live in Farmington Hills. They have two sons.
“An avenue worth exploring as a career”
Miller has been in higher education for more than 25 years. Her first foray into this field was during her grad school days at EMU, in the Career Services Office. This experience cemented her career path.
“I coordinated a Walk-in Advising program, where students could walk in and get advice on résumés and other career-related topics,” she said. “I enjoyed organizing the volunteers who assisted students and alumni and thought this would an avenue worth exploring as a career.”
Miller has been at HFC for nearly five years, reporting to HFC Career Services Officer Chad Austin. The main focus of her position is overseeing the co-op program, which allows students to gain work experience in their field while they are studying. Students enrolled in associate degree programs at HFC are eligible for co-op.
“This is a program that is mandatory for some academic majors in order to graduate, including the Culinary Arts and Automotive Technology programs,” said Miller. “Additional academic degrees participate in the co-op program, including Computer Science, Cybersecurity, Graphic Design, Communications, Accounting, Business Administration, Computer Aided Drafting, and Pre-Engineering.”
The inside view of co-op
Most of the activities that take up Miller's time include:
- Scheduling class visits to talk about the program
- Individual meetings with students
- Presenting workshops to students (in-person or virtual)
- Making sure students fill out required forms for co-op placement
- Finding out which instructors are available to teach co-op courses
- Creating petitions on behalf of the students once classes and instructors are approved by the academic department
Miller works closely with various department chairs across the College; most frequently with Associate Dean Keambra Pierson from BEPD; and the Registrar’s office.
“I arrange events related to career development and have been continuing a mentor program with Marrci Connor, faculty chair for HFC’s Cybersecurity program, where students partner with a mentor to gain valuable advice prior to working in their field of study,” said Miller.
She has also coordinated mock interviews for students with employers. She has personally assisted students with mock interviews, reviewed their résumés, portfolios, and cover letters, and provided guidance on careers. She arranges employer visits on campus. She works with the Career Services team preparing career fairs and career-related events. She recently gave a presentation about co-op at the Snack and Chat series.
Working with an amazing team
Miller suggests students should plan ahead with regard to co-op opportunities.
“Many students wait too long to start the co-op process,” said Miller. “All students should inquire and apply once they are close to being 50 percent done with their core courses and have a minimum GPA of 2.5 in their major.”
Miller finds HFC different from other colleges. The faculty members she’s been working with have been supportive about planning career events, promoting co-op, and sharing services the Career Services Office provides for students and alumni.
“I really enjoy hearing from students who receive job opportunities, whether it’s a co-op, internship, or full-time position,” she said. “I have an amazing team I enjoy working with in the Career Services Office. I also think it’s great that the Student Affairs division is centered on helping our students be successful during their time here. I enjoy working with building partnerships with faculty, especially in terms of promoting the co-op program for our HFC students.”