Climbing the Ladder

KENNESAW, Ga. | Jul 20, 2017

Father and daughter benefit from University’s job search services

John Burk and Valerie Burk
John Burk and Valerie Burk

Psychology student Valerie Burk witnessed the value of a good resume as she learned the ins and outs of Kennesaw State’s Career Planning and Development department last fall as a student worker.

When her dad began a new job search, she stepped in to help, but her expertise in resume writing was limited. Instead, she encouraged her dad, John Burk, to contact the University’s Career Planning and Development department, which helps students and alumni with career development, including resume writing, interviewing skills and job search services.

Valerie already knew the department’s strengths. The team helped her land a spring internship at the Georgia State Capitol as a legislative assistant for Sen. Fran Millar, chair of the higher education committee. 

Valerie’s dad was hesitant to work with KSU’s Career Planning and Development. As a 2012 Southern Polytechnic graduate in manufacturing operations, he didn’t realize that the University’s job search services were available for free to alumni.

“I told my dad that I thought it was a good idea to talk with them, but I’m not sure he would have used their services if I hadn’t prompted him,” Valerie said.

The Career Planning team offers traditional services, such as career fairs and professional networking opportunities, as well as HandShake, a new job search platform. On a personal level, the team helped John to format his resume, consolidate his extensive experience and provide tips on how to network on LinkedIn. He also was given advice on job interviewing.

Burk quickly landed two interviews and within 24 hours was presented with two job offers.

“I was in a good place and able to compare offers,” he said. “The process with Career Planning was helpful. It didn’t even occur to me to reach out initially. This is a great resource for alumni.”

Any alumni – from Kennesaw State or the former Southern Polytechnic State University – are able to benefit from Career Planning and Development’s resources at any point in their lives, explained Ana Baida, executive director of Career Planning and Development.

“We see career development as a lifelong process, a process that evolves as each alum evolves,” said Baida. “We want to be sure we equip students while they’re with us, but we also acknowledge that field experience often helps our alumni to clarify their goals, so we’re here to assist in the process of career ‘rock climbing.’”

John is now a senior process engineer with Inalfa, a manufacturing engineering automotive supply company. 

“I spent most of my life self-employed, so I always had the mindset that I would find another job,” said John, who worked in the construction industry for 25 years. While attending SPSU, he used their career services department to land an internship.

For Valerie, her legislative internship has changed her entire career trajectory.

“I loved the internship, and it has changed what I want for graduate school,” she said. She hopes to work in public administration and public policy, rather than clinical psychology.

– Tiffany Capuano

Photos by David Caselli

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A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 43,000 students. Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia with 11 academic colleges. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 7 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit