College Member Spotlight: Melissa A. Forges


Career Center students and staff.  Melissa Forges

Melissa A. Forges is the Assistant Director, Engineering Employer Relations & Recruitment Services at Florida State University. Connect with Melissa on  Twitter @MelissaForges or on LinkedIn.

1. Describe your career path up to this point.

My career has been on an interesting ride! The path I have taken has been unpredictable at times but has been fun, lesson filled and rewarding. I have remained connected to education whether it’s in the secondary or post-secondary arena. I have had the opportunity to have been a high school teacher, worked alongside my husband in a campus ministry leadership role and worked in career services in technical trade schools in addition to traditional higher education universities.

2. Why did you choose this career?

This career chose me!  Upon entering my graduate degree for College Student Affairs at Nova Southeastern University, I knew I wanted to work with students in higher education and make an impact – I just didn’t know in what particular department.  Being able to work as a graduate assistant in the Office of Career Development solified where I wanted to focus my talents, education and skills.  The opportunities affored me exposure and experience with employers, events and students and it was then that I knew I needed to choose what had been placed before me.

3. What is the most rewarding part of your job?

The core of my character finds true enjoyment in helping people.  I find gratification in being able to help students and help employers reach their desired goal whether it be to find an internship or find the right student for an internship.  Overall, I want to have lasting impact and knowing that I made a difference, if even in a small way for a student or employer – then I know I have done my duty and that is what is most rewarding about my job.

4. What is the most challenging part of your job?

The most challenging part of my job is being able to figure out what good thing to put into place! The career field has so many great trending items to continue making it better and better! I learn new things everyday from colleagues, webinars, articles, training, etc. and I Iike being able to implement new ideas into what I’m already doing to be current, effective and excellent. It’s an art to ascertain what needs to be changed, omitted or put into practice but it’s what makes things fun!

5. What would you like colleagues to know about your institution/organization?

Florida State University may be a large institution but you feel connected and cared about!  I appreciate the Division of Student Affairs in their provision of professional development, fun activities and connectedness for each employee.  The Career Center has so many moving parts to it and that’s what makes it unique and exciting!  From Career Advising & Counseling to Experiential Learning to Employer Relations & Recruitment Services and the Center for the Study of Technology in Counseling and Career Development, its no wonder that students, staff, faculty and community members receive top notch service from a world renowed Career Center.  Each person takes their role seriously and it shows in the work we do!

6. What is the best career advice you have ever received?

“Your reputation precedes you…and follows you!”

7. When you were younger (ages 5-12), what did you want to be when you grew up? What about that career appealed to your younger self?

When I was younger I wanted to be a pediatrician because I thought that was the major way to help people – when they were sick, especially little kids!  The medical field appealed to me because most of my family was in the medical field and I was repeatedly told that I would make a great doctor.  However, once I got to college, I realized there was more than the medical field to helping people, and my eye opening came at the right time, because chemistry was a tad challenging at the college level at 7:30am!


Practice What We Preach

Contributed by: Addye Buckley-Burnell, Assistant Director of Career Development at Auburn University

july15.e1If you have held a search lately for a position in your office you are likely wondering the same thing as I have been, “what are these applicants thinking?” We work in career centers and teach students how to apply for jobs, but so many applicants (not all of course) seem to be making the same mistakes our students make…incomplete applications, not tailoring their cover letters, and of course the favorite, horrible resumes. PEOPLE!!! We do great work with students helping them along the way, but we need to start practicing what we preach. Of course there are exceptions to this rant who have wonderful documents and applications, but let’s be honest, you are the exception.

Marketing Materials

Guys…we publish our stances on resume and cover letter writing on our websites making it easy to know what our audience is wanting. Yet how many of us use this as a guide for our own documents? Why not? We have an advantage in our industry of having direct knowledge of how our audience wants our documents to look yet so often we just use our standard resume. We would never allow our students to do this, so why do we? Also, we as professionals have a tendency of letting our ego get the best of us and not having others review our documents before sending. With the number of grammatical mistakes, misspelled words, or general errors I have been seeing lately during search committees, it is obvious we are not taking this simple step. Look, we all make mistakes and it is so much easier to review someone else’s documents than write our own, so let’s just put our egos aside and ask a trusted colleague or former colleague to take a quick look. This small step could land you an interview.

Organizational Research

Do your research!! How is it that so many people do not bother to talk to anyone or even thoroughly review websites before applying or interviewing? Again, our offices put so much information online…USE IT! We are all on LinkedIn, our offices are all publishing blogs, social media updates, and often newsletters or annual reports, yet somehow there are still candidates who do not seem to know much about the offices and their services and resources.

The Application

Follow the rules….We would never tell a student that it is alright to submit an incomplete application form yet so often we will risk it ourselves. An incomplete application does not go unnoticed and has cost many candidates interviews. This means filling out all questions on the application, including salary expectations, and submitting all requested documents. I know the applications in higher education are very lengthy and we all want to get through them as fast as possible, but there really is no excuse to cut corners here.

Acing the Interview

Interviews are important and preparation is needed. No matter what type of interview you are facing, prepare, prepare, prepare. This means practice, research, and have questions to ask. I realize that interviewing in a career center is the most intimidating interview most people will face, after all we critique interviews every day in our jobs. But this is all the more reason to be overly prepared since we want a good interviewer working with us. And while I am talking about interviewing, why are so many people neglecting to send thank you notes? Job search 101- send thank you notes/letters to every person with whom you interview. It is just common curtesy and a hugely important in our world.

Now I know I have just ranted for this entire post and for those of you who are thinking, “Hey, I do all of this already.” To you I say, “THANK YOU!” After reading through countless bad applications it is a breath of fresh air to see your well planned and nicely prepared application materials. We have so many wonderful career professionals out there working miracles on college campuses around the country; it is great to see these applicants when we are conducting a search. Just remember that your own materials are a direct representation of how you will instruct students and we all want the best for our students and our staffs.


contributor_abuckleyburnellAddye Buckley-Burnell serves as the Assistant Director of Career Development for the Auburn University Career Center, leading a team of highly skilled and motivated career counselors and is charged with the formal assessment of the office. Addye is a Licensed Professional Counselor, National Certified Counselor, and a Distance Credentialed Counselor with experience in a variety of counseling areas including mental health, academic and career. In addition to her work with individual students, Addye teaches a variety of courses included a job search/career-life planning class both on-campus and via distance education.


Maximize Your Summer: Tips For the Career Development Professional

Contributed by: Tiffany I. Waddell, Assistant Director for Career Development at Davidson College

While many of my peers and colleagues at different institutions talk about the summer as being a great time to catch up, take vacation time, and plan for the upcoming year – I know it can often feel hard to get it all done before the academic year kicks back up in late August. Before you know it, it’s back to school time!   For many of us who work on the career advising side, summer school and students who live in close proximity to campus may also mean that your calendar isn’t quite as flexible as you may like on some days.  Here are four quick tips to help you maximize your time this summer in preparation for a strong fall semester start!

Map It Out

Make a list of summer projects and goals you would like to accomplish by the middle of August, then re-order them in terms of priority or deadline.  Whether you’re into the digital calendar or hardcopy (I like to use both…) make sure you look weeks ahead on your calendar and hold project or administrative chunks of time to your calendar for different projects.  You may even designate certain days for certain projects and allot an appropriate amount of time to get that task done.  This not only ensures that you are earmarking time to work on large projects/planning needs, but that nothing else gets scheduled over that time inadvertently.  Getting organized doesn’t just mean eliminating clutter – it also means managing your time well and creating space to get things done!

Meet With Campus Partners

Schedule coffee or lunch with other campus administrators you worked with this year (or would like to work with in the future).  Without a lot of looming deadlines in front of us, summer is a great time to re-connect, reflect on what worked, and brainstorm future possibilities.  This is a great way to build and maintain relationships while breaking silos across campus, and identifying areas of potential collaboration and support, too.  And who doesn’t like a nice beverage or breakfast and change of scenery while talking business?  Find an alternative space outside of your office to meet!

Read As Much As You Can

I have been known to be guilty of putting my personal and professional to do list on hold while school is in session.  During heavy programming season, I often find it hard to read for leisure and even best practices.  Yikes. Something I have implemented for this summer is a reading list of books that I would like to complete by the end of the summer.  Slowly but surely, I am accomplishing this goal and it feels great to check them off as I go.  You may even consider starting a book club with friends and colleagues on your campus or at other schools in the region to hold each other accountable for your reading goals.

Schedule Breaks

You may get in the groove of getting a lot done – and if you’re anything like me, you absolutely love making to do lists and crossing things out as you accomplish them.  However, it is very important to take time out for yourself and schedule breaks to rest, relax, and reflect.  Taking care of yourself (even if it means a staycation at home a few times this summer…) is crucial for your success and wellbeing.  Don’t head into a new school year burnt out from your summer.  Remember to take time to take care of you.

How do you maximize your summer months?  Share in the comments below!


Tiffany Waddell, ContributorTiffany I. Waddell is the Assistant Director for Career Development at Davidson College. She has coached hundreds of budding young professionals on how to create strategic action plans for academic and career-related goals. Affectionately known for her “tough love” approach to coaching and people development, she is an avid connector of people and ideas. Connect with Tiffany on Twitter @tiffanyiwaddell or via email at