Kick-Start Your Career Journey: Insights from St. John’s Career Adviser

St. John's University Career Services Adviser Headshot

Are you looking to take your career journey to the next level? Meet Elisa Zervos ’22MBA, an exceptional career expert with extensive experience in operational management and professional development coaching across all industries. As the Associate Director of Career and Internship Advising at The Lesley H. and William L. Collins College of Professional Studies at St. John’s University, Ms. Zervos combines her strategic vision and hands-on experience to deliver guidance and support to ambitious professionals seeking to achieve their goals.

About the Adviser

After successfully coaching hundreds of individuals already in the workforce, Ms. Zervos found her calling in preparing the next generation of professionals for success in the competitive job market. Her passion for guiding students toward becoming “market-ready” upon graduation led her to University Career Services at St. John’s University, where she has since played a pivotal role in increasing student engagement and facilitating impactful career development initiatives.

As an advocate for student success, Ms. Zervos’s dedication extends beyond the confines of traditional career advising. She has spearheaded initiatives to support Division I student-athletes, coaches rising leaders globally through digital platforms, and empowers high-potential professionals across continents to develop essential leadership skills that help them advance in their organizations. Her multifaceted approach to career development at St. John’s encompasses coaching, training, and academic instruction, providing students with comprehensive support tailored to their unique aspirations and challenges.

In this inspiring Q&A session, Ms. Zervos shares

  • her transformative journey to St. John’s Career Services. 
  • informative career resources available to college students.  
  • insights into career development strategies.
  • some exciting opportunities that are on the horizon for St. John’s Career Services. 

What inspired you to work at University Career Services at St. John’s?

My background is in operational management, mainly in the private sector in New York City. I spent seven years in Europe before returning and transitioning into commercial real estate. However, after the financial crisis in 2008, I decided to venture out independently, fulfilling my long-held desire to start my own business. 

This led me to stumble into career coaching when my former employer sold the business and provided outplacement services, where I worked with a career coach myself. Intrigued by their work, I embarked on a Professional Coaching Certification from the International Coaching Federation, leveraging my prior experience and expertise in management to transition into this field.

Since 2009, I’ve been working independently as a career and professional development coach, assisting countless individuals through career transitions and advancement. My role evolved when I joined St. John’s on a three-month contract, realizing the opportunity to apply my skills to help students navigate their career paths more strategically. 

A group of college students in the St. John's University Career Peer Program

Recognizing the similarities between coaching seasoned professionals and guiding students, I transitioned into a full-time role at St. John’s. I use my extensive experience in management to offer practical guidance to students; I understand how employers hire talent as I had done it  managing teams over the years. My direct approach and understanding of employer expectations allow me to effectively support students in achieving their career goals.

Share your favorite success story of a student who utilized career services.

One of the most inspiring success stories I’ve encountered involved an international student from Poland with a passion for advertising. Despite facing the unique challenges of being an international student, she exhibited exceptional drive and determination in pursuing her career aspirations.

Throughout her time at St. John’s, she actively sought out internships and opportunities to expand her skills and experiences within the advertising industry. However, her journey took an unexpected turn when she enrolled in an intensive coding boot camp postgraduation. Despite deviating from her initial career path, she embraced the opportunity wholeheartedly and emerged with newfound expertise in coding. This bold decision led to a successful transition into a coding career, where she continues to thrive and excel.

Related: Read the blog post on How Do You Define Success?  

What’s your go-to career advice for students in just three words?

Always be curious! Encouraging students to maintain a sense of curiosity and openness to new experiences is paramount in navigating their career journeys effectively. By cultivating a mindset of curiosity, students can continuously learn, grow, and adapt to the evolving demands of the job market.

Are there any challenges that you found that many students commonly have when they come into the office, and how do you typically approach that challenge?

A common challenge many students face when seeking career guidance is a need for more confidence and readiness for the postgraduation workforce. Many students express uncertainty about their preparedness to transition from academia to the professional realm, often feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of entering the job market. 

St. John's Career Service Advisers

In addressing this challenge, I adopt a personalized approach that prioritizes building students’ confidence and empowering them to take proactive steps toward their career goals. By engaging students in reflective conversations and providing tailored guidance and support, I strive to instill a sense of self-assurance and agency in their career pursuits.

Encouraging students to challenge their perceptions and embrace opportunities for growth and development is essential in helping them overcome self-doubt and navigate their career paths with confidence and resilience.

 Related: Read the blog Career Success Starts Here: Maximizing Your College Career Services

What invaluable career resources should students utilize?

St. John's University College Students Spending a Day on Wall Street Through Career Services Program

Handshake is a cornerstone resource for students seeking career guidance and opportunities. It provides a comprehensive platform for accessing job listings and events tailored to their interests and aspirations. Handshake offers many opportunities from established employer partners and our alumni network, from internships to full-time positions.

Additionally, What Can I Do with This Major? is an online tool that offers invaluable insights into potential career paths aligned with students’ academic pursuits. This resource allows a student to see all the different paths their degree might take, listing various roles, types of employers who hire that major, and professional associations related to their industries. This empowers students to make informed decisions about their career trajectories.

Furthermore, Big Interview, another online tool, offers virtual interview preparation and résumé scanning services, equipping students with essential skills for navigating the job market with confidence and competence.

Related: Read the blog post onThe Top 10 Skills Employers are Looking for in 2024. 

What exciting things are on the horizon for the Career Services team that students should know about? 

St. John’s Career Services team is excited to announce the upcoming implementation of a new platform called uConnect. This innovative platform aims to streamline student access to career resources and events, providing a seamless and personalized experience tailored to their needs and interests.

uConnect will serve as a comprehensive, one-stop shop for career-related support and guidance. It will offer students access to various resources, events, and programming to enhance their career readiness and prospects. From personalized recommendations to AI-driven insights, uConnect promises to revolutionize the way students engage with career services, making career development more accessible, efficient, and impactful than ever before.

Ready to Ignite Your Career Journey? 

If you’re a current, future, or previous student at St. John’s University, now is the perfect time to connect with Elisa Zervos and the dedicated St. John’s Career Services team. Whether you seek personalized career advice, valuable resources, or exciting opportunities, St. John’s Career Services has everything you need to achieve your goals. From industry insights to hands-on support, they can help you navigate your career journey with confidence and resilience.

St. John’s Career Services Center