For Career Services Advisor Clarissa Aguilar, Helping Students Launch Their Careers is a True Calling
Clarissa Aguilar is lucky—and she knows it.
“Not everyone gets to do a job they love,” says Clarissa, a Career Services Advisor at Carrington’s Sacramento campus. “Fortunately, I’m someone who does. Every day, I get to help students prepare for and pursue career opportunities that I know will improve their lives.”
Clarissa works one-on-one with Medical Assisting students, guiding them through the program. Along the way, she also offers workshops and seminars on time management, resume writing, networking and interview skills. In addition to placing students in externships during their last semester, she’s also actively involved in helping them land their first jobs as Medical Assistants.
“While my actual job title is Career Services Advisor, I think of myself as part counselor, part cheerleader, and part enthusiastic mom,” says Clarissa, who lives in Elk Grove. “I love supporting students as they progress and evolve through our MA program. Most of them are capable of so much more than they initially realize. Part of my job is to convince students of that fact so they can focus, move beyond their anxiety and self-doubt, and experience the careers and lives they dream about.”
Clarissa says she works with many students who begin their MA programs second-guessing their decision to commit to higher education.
“Over the years, I’ve seen how debilitating fear can be,” says Clarissa. “For some people, it’s a fear of failure. For others, it’s a fear of success. But as students begin learning and start experiencing progress, it frees them up to take a leap of faith, to really break out and break through. The growth I get to witness in students as they advance through our program is inspiring.”
Clarissa joined Carrington nearly two years ago after a 21-year career in recruiting, staffing, human resources and career development. Joy Silva, Career Services Regional Director at Carrington, says Clarissa is a powerful advocate for the students and graduates she advises.
“Clarissa consistently goes above and beyond,” says Joy. “She always has a plan and never gives up. She knows how she’s going to help a student or graduate become successful in their program and how she’s going to help them achieve their career goals. She recently had a graduate who was working for several months outside her field of training. Clarissa kept in touch with the graduate and encouraged her to continue pursuing a career position in medical assisting. Clarissa’s persistence and encouragement paid off, and that graduate is now employed as a Medical Assistant.”
While her job responsibilities haven’t changed since the pandemic hit in mid-March, Clarissa says the way she interacts with students and colleagues certainly has.
“There are definitely pluses and minuses to working from home,” she acknowledges. “To do my job well, I think you need to be a ‘people person’, and I definitely qualify. I’m very social, and there are times I really miss the face-to-face contact with other people. But I think we’ve all done a great job in adapting. We communicate with students via video chats. We also hold team meetings and conduct workshops and seminars online. In some ways, I feel like I get more done because the energy I used to spend commuting two hours a day now goes into my work.”
Clarissa says her job is ultimately about developing and maintaining relationships. It’s a skill she encourages students and graduates to appreciate and cultivate.
“A few years ago, I placed a student in an externship at a health care agency,” she recalls. “The company liked him so much that he was hired when he completed his externship. He’s now responsible for recruiting and training externs at that same company. I don’t think either of us thought we’d be working together years later, but here we are.”
Clarissa says it was a full-circle moment and served as a great reminder that creating solid, lasting connections can make a difference in a person’s career.
“I’m someone who values relationships,” says Clarissa, a mother of three who has been married to her high school sweetheart for 38 years. “Over the years, I’ve been surrounded and supported by so many phenomenal colleagues who have nurtured and encouraged me. I know how life-affirming and life-changing it can be to have someone believe in you and be in your corner. It’s why I love doing what I do.”