Getting Acquainted with Danielle Jaquez, SCI-Arc’s New Career Services Advisor
Danielle Jaquez is an experienced Career Advisor and Internship Coordinator who is passionate about supporting students throughout their educational journey. Danielle holds a Master of Arts (MA) in Communication Theory from California State University, Fullerton and has worked in both the California State University System and independent art + design colleges around Southern California.
We spoke to Danielle to delve into her background and interests, learn more about her new role as Career Services Advisor, and introduce her to the SCI-Arc community.
Hi Danielle! Thank you for speaking with us. Welcome to SCI-Arc, we are so glad to have you here, truly. To start, can you please share a little bit about your background, where you're from, what your interests are, and how you got into the work of career services?
I'm from Southern California, born and raised here. I grew up in Orange County and had a really wonderful, supportive family. I wasn't much of an athlete or a studious one, but I did love working with my hands and working in art as a kid. We actually had a local studio that did fused glass art, so I ended up befriending the artists got really into fused glass—making bowls, plates and little pieces. It's still one of my favorite things to do. [Where I grew up] was a very artsy community full of unique, interesting people. I feel really lucky to have been able to grow up there.
As far as how I got into career services, like most people, I did not know what I wanted to do with my life. I did okay in school. There wasn't a certain subject that stood out to me, but I was really good at communicating with people; I loved talking, being in teams, writing, doing speeches and debates. I ended up working towards a comms degree, and really enjoyed just being a student and learning about how people communicate, mass communication, and journalism. Once I was out of my undergrad, I tried out roles in marketing, journalism, recruiting, all that jazz. And I just couldn't find the perfect fit: I didn't feel passionate about what I was doing. I didn't feel like I was helping anyone or making a difference. I wanted to be doing something where I could feel good about it at the end of the day, and still use those communication skills.
I always loved being on a college campus. There was something about that atmosphere that I really appreciated, so I went and got my master's degree at Cal State Fullerton—again in comms. Just by chance, I had a mentor who said, "Hey I know the internship coordinator who needs some help. I think this might be a good role for you." I absolutely loved it. I was able to help guide some of the students in the undergrad program through their internships which was fun and also very rewarding.
I found what I was looking for in that I was able to use those comm skills and those recruiting and marketing skills that I had developed, but also still feel like I was making a difference- all while having this great experience of watching students grow through this process. I worked in internships for a while, then started to go further down the hole of career services and mastering resumes and cover letters, interviewing, networking, etc. A couple years later, I ended up at Laguna College of Art and Design as the career advisor and internship coordinator.
In introducing you to the SCI-Arc Community at large, could you define your role as career services advisor?
Career Services is all about bridging that gap between academia and the industry, because just jumping right out of college and into work, it's very different, It's a huge transition. Especially in education, [career services] is about helping ease that transition, making sure that students are developing skills that can help them throughout that process. As the Career Services Advisor at SCI-Arc, my job is guiding students through the process of applying to jobs, interviewing, selecting jobs and internships, and the experiences they have there.
On one end, I'm supporting students and alumni on their journeys, but then I'm also on the other end trying to connect SCI-Arc with the industry, connect with different companies, develop opportunities and pipelines for things like internships. Basically just, I'm here to support, advocate for the students, and empower them and their experiences.
How did you learn about SCI-Arc, what brought you here, and what attracted you to working within career services at a place like SCI-Arc? What have you seen as being the benefit of career services within an institution of architecture so far?
I previously worked at a small art and design school and was so impressed with the students there, just their passion and their dedication to what they were doing. I really enjoyed working with art students and I also really enjoyed being on a small campus. I knew that I wanted to continue my career on a campus where I could get to know students one-on-one, have that real engagement with students and faculty rather than being on a campus where there's 30,000 people which is a vastly different experience.
When I was introduced to SCI-Arc, I just right away felt that it's really unique and seemed interesting. I didn't know a lot about it actually, so I started to look into it and do some research, I realized that SCI-Arc was kind of in this transitionary period where the students and alumni were advocating for change. They took it in their own hands to ask for things to change in this industry.
I thought it was so incredible that everyone in the community was fighting for this change that needed to happen for more equitable best practices. Ultimately, that was something I wanted to be a part of. And I was also really impressed by the transparency that there was during my experience while interviewing here, learning about the school. Again, everything was very transparent, leadership was really great, and it just became something that I wanted to be a part of.
What would you say some of your goals for career services are at SCI-Arc?
Because the architecture industry is changing so much and we are in this transitionary period, I think an overarching goal that I had coming in was that I really wanted to make career services accessible and approachable for students, especially within a population where they've never had it before. Because I know it can be hard to engage with administrative staff, especially, again, a position that has never been before. I really wanted to make sure that I was building out this office where students felt comfortable coming to me, where they felt like they were able to come to me for resources, whatever they needed.
My first goal was putting that in place. And then aside from that, again, because building from the ground up can be tough, I wanted to make sure that we really put in place good practices, policies, and procedures in a way that will serve students and alumni for the future.
What are you most excited about to explore not only in this role, but at the school and in greater Los Angeles, coming from a place like Orange County?
I was really intrigued because I was very familiar with the small art and design colleges in Southern California and yet, still, I didn't know much about SCI-Arc. When I first came here, I was just shocked at, again, how unique it is and what an interesting setup it has: the studio structure I had never really seen before, the population here is so diverse because there's just this huge group of international students who have all these amazing unique perspectives—you don't see like this level of diversity on a lot of college campuses in this area.
I remember the first week I started, I actually came in during a final reviews period for the fall semester. I was just walking around in awe looking at these different projects. It was nothing like I'd seen before, so observing that, I immediately knew I'd landed in a cool place and there's going be a lot of things to see here. I feel like I am constantly surprised and intrigued by everything I encounter in the building. And that has stood true.
And then off campus, I hadn't explored a lot of this city before, especially not the Arts District or Little Tokyo. I have enjoyed just walking around, getting to know everything. Trying everyone's food recommendations has been amazing. Just popping into all the little local shops and all the galleries has also been super rewarding.
Lastly, what is it that you most want to impart to the SCI-Arc community about your presence here, and what you want to accomplish?
I think honestly that I'm here to help, whether it's working on improving a resume, practicing interview questions, or just talking about the industry. I know there could be a lot of anxiety around things like the job search, networking, interviewing—these can all be intimidating things. I just want the community to know that I'm here as a resource and a support system for anyone who is struggling, or just wanting to further their career development experience. I'm excited to collaborate, and I'm really thrilled to be a part of the community. I look forward to learning with everyone and facing all the challenges that come with being a school in today's day and age.
Mainly, though, I want to support the students. Because ultimately, that's what it's about; they're paying good money to come here and it's our job to make their experience better and help them however we can.