Name: John Mlinar
Position: Career Counselor & Research Coordinator
Department/Office where you work: Counseling & Career Services
Number of years at SFA: First year
I received a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from SFA in 2008, then a Master of Arts in Clinical/Mental Health Counseling from SFA in May 2011.
Tell us how you came to work in your current position:
I actually learned about Career Services by being a career counseling client myself during the fall of 2008, just after I graduated with my undergrad degree. My career counselor and I immediately clicked, and it was from her that I learned what real professionalism and dedication to clients looks like firsthand. Fast forward to the second-to-last semester before graduating with my master’s in counseling in 2010, and I was in the process of thinking about where I wanted to intern. As a complete shot in the dark, I emailed my former career counselor and asked if she needed a second counselor around in Career Services, and the answer was an enthusiastic “yes.” I spent a semester as a career counselor intern, getting a feel for the career counseling process and learning to really love working with college students. When my time was up, I heard that her position would be opening up (she left to pursue her dream to open up her own private practice) and decided to apply in the summer of 2011. Since then, I’ve been happily employed with Counseling and Career Services, and I have used this story with my clients to underscore how powerful networking can be.
What do you love about working at SFA?
First and foremost, I enjoy working with students. Working with them brings me back to my college experience every day I see them, and is rewarding if for no other reason than because I’m helping them in a way that I know could have been so useful in my life as an undergraduate. I also like giving presentations to different classes and getting the word out on career exploration, which is a pretty mysterious process for many college students, as it most certainly was while I was in college. I also love working with each and every one of my coworkers, including my wonderful boss Jenny Davis. It’s a very supportive and family-like atmosphere here, and it always helps to have coworkers you’re excited to be around. In the bigger picture, I am committed to the idea of education and learning, which is clearly a large part of what SFA stands for. Being an active learner interested in many different subjects is a central part of my spare time and who I am as a person. It’s an honor to know my job is rooted in the age-old value of learning and educational growth.
What’s one thing you wish you could tell SFA students and parents?
Students, and first-semester freshmen in particular, need all the support they can get. Virtually every client I’ve worked values, secretly or not, the support of their relatives and friends in making their career decisions. So, parents, don’t be shy in expressing your support. Ask them how their studies are going, how hard (or not) classes are, and especially what they may begin to be thinking about doing for the rest of their lives. Most importantly, support them in becoming the unique individuals they are becoming, even if this means they are going in a direction they’re passionate about that may diverge from a specific idea you may have for them. Perhaps the highest stress issue for many of the clients I see as a college career counselor involves the perception that their parents may not be as excited or supportive about their career goals as they are. So let them know you’re there for them.
For students, know that you have a supportive staff and faculty at your disposal. Always know that there are professors who really do care for your learning and self-growth. Also know that the college experience can be a wonderful time of exploration and realization, but can easily (especially for first-year students) become a place of confusion and uncertainty. Know your support system during this time, which can include parents and relative, friends, or faculty and staff on this campus. Find someone you can talk with. There’s always someone there.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I’m a coffee shop frequenter, so you can often find me in Java Jacks with a cup of coffee and a few books I’m working through at the moment. I’ve also been a committed guitar player for more than ten years, always on the lookout for a good riff or musical idea to follow. I’m hopelessly attracted to writing and blogging, with the hopes of one day making it as a published author, but for now I’ll focus (happily) on my day job. I’m also actively involved with SFA Recreation, visiting the gym there three or four times a week. What I love the most, though, is a good, long conversation with a friend. That and Texas falls, during which I’ll be outside as much as possible