How to Navigate Your Job Search with the Columbia Employment Information Center

The Columbia Employment Information Center is available for all job-seekers who would benefit from assistance in a job search.

Janrey Serapio
March 19, 2024

Near Columbia University’s Manhattanville campus—and a stone’s throw from the 125th Street subway station—sits a resource center for all job seekers. 

For nearly two decades, the Columbia Employment Information Center (CEIC) has remained steadfast in its commitment to assisting its visitors with a job search, operating from Monday to Friday, 9:00 am to 4:00 pm. Over the years, the center has welcomed nearly 58,000 individuals, providing guidance on their resumes, interview skills, and strategy in securing their desired roles—both at Columbia and elsewhere.

In the lead-up to the 2024 Columbia University Career Expo on March 26, Columbia Neighbors sat down with CEIC staff to discuss how they support job seekers, what services they offer, and the programming they’ll feature at this year’s Expo.

A Walk-In-Friendly Hub for Job Seekers

At the heart of CEIC’s mission is a commitment to welcoming every visitor and providing tailored assistance to their job-search needs.

“We get really excited when people walk in,” said Barbara Catalano, executive director of CEIC. “We meet people at the door to figure out why they're here and how we can help them.” 

After getting to know someone’s work experience, background, and priorities, the team will turn their attention to job search strategy. This can vary, but typically it involves a thorough analysis of their resume.

Entrance to the Columbia Employment Information Center with a welcome sign and three posters plastered on the glass windows.

“We take a look at the resume and help people make adjustments to make sure that it aligns well with the position,” said Catalano. “We want people to feel confident when they present their resume to a future employer.”

Beyond resume assistance, the team at CEIC helps visitors with everything from networking to interviewing to negotiating salary. But the main goal for a first-time visitor is to leave them with clear next steps.

“Our goal when people walk through our door is to make sure that they have a next step when they walk out,” said Catalano. “That can include making those changes on your resume, following up on an application, or circling back with our team for a future appointment.” 

Hybrid Workshops for Job Seekers 

In addition to one-on-one meetings, CEIC offers twice-a-month, hybrid workshops that focus on job readiness and interviewing skills, run by Elizabeth Jones, director of Community Employment Programs and Services. 

“Our job readiness workshop covers resume writing, interviewing techniques, and job search techniques,” said Jones. “Our interview skills workshop covers interview prep, best practices, and more.” 

Two female employees of the Columbia Employment Information Center standing in the computer lab.

The workshops can run up to two hours, but can often be catered to address the group’s interests. 

“Some candidates are more curious about applying for positions at Columbia so we’ll shift our attention to focus on that,” said Jones. “It’s nice because since it’s usually a smaller group, attendees can still get that one-on-one attention.” 

An Information Source on Careers at Columbia

Though CEIC’s career resources are available to all, the team specializes in helping visitors apply for opportunities at Columbia.

“When people come in asking about jobs at the university, we learn more about their experiences and interests and then we point them in the right direction,” said Jones. “We show them the website, how they can filter, and apply. And, like Barbara said, they’re always going to have next steps.”

In terms of employment opportunities, options vary. 

“Open positions can run the gamut from a writer to IT positions, to administrative work up at the Medical Center along with clinical, nursing, and medical assistant positions,” said Catalano. “We also work closely with facilities on temporary maintenance needs like porters, door attendants, groundskeepers, locksmiths, and more.”

The Columbia Temporary Staffing Office, also located in the CEIC building, works closely with CEIC to place candidates in temporary positions that can lead to permanent employment. 

“If you're unemployed, it's a perfect way to get your foot in the door,” said Catalano. 

Serving the Local Community

Any job-seeker is welcome to take advantage of CEIC’s resources, but its accessibility to the local community is key to its mission. 

“Any visitor that walks through the door, regardless of where they live, is welcome and we help them equally,” said Catalano. “But we are in this location specifically for the local community. People really appreciate that we're so accessible.”

And while many local residents who visit are seeking assistance in the job search, CEIC can help people connect with resources beyond the center.

“If someone comes in and lets us know that they don’t have a high school degree, we offer to connect them with Community Impact, which has a high school equivalency program or to other local community-based organizations that offer GED prep classes,” said Catalano. “And if you’re a parent and need daycare options for your children as you start seeking employment, we can focus on figuring out your options.”

Coming Up at the Career Expo and More

CEIC also works hand-in-hand with local organizations to spread the word about their services, receive word-of-mouth referrals from local residents, and attend information sessions and job fairs.  

Part of that community outreach includes tabling at the Columbia Career Expo, which takes place each year at The Forum. This year, CEIC is looking forward to expanding their activities at the Expo to include an interactive session. 

Group of attendees at the 2023's Career Expo held at The Forum.

“In addition to Elizabeth’s career readiness workshops, one of our vendors, who we work with to connect people to temporary employment opportunities, will be attending,” said Catalano. “They’ll be leading a Q&A with two of their recruiters to give people guidance around what they and their other vendors are looking for in a candidate.” 

As CEIC gets ready to celebrate their 20th anniversary next year, the staff hopes to see more friendly faces pop by the center. 

“I would love to see more visitors come in,” said Jones. “I want the word to be out there as much as possible and to make connections with everyone in the community.”

Catalano encourages anyone who has seen the CEIC sign and wants to know more to stop by. 

“If it’s not that person who needs help, maybe it's their friend or cousin or neighbor,” said Catalano. “We’d love to just get to know them and know how we can help.” 

Subscribe to our newsletter to stay up-to-date:

* indicates required