Q&A: Alayna Hayes discusses new initiatives for Vanderbilt Career Center, shares her best career advice

Making career plans can be a daunting process for students, whether deciding on majors, thinking about graduate or professional degree programs, seeking jobs and internships, or just looking for professional networks.

The Vanderbilt Career Center is a valuable resource to help students identify their goals and to connect them with a wide range of helpful information. MyVU recently spoke with Alayna Hayes, the new assistant provost and senior director of the Career Center, about her goals to enhance the student experience through career advancement and provide more engagement opportunities within the Vanderbilt community. She also offers the best piece of career advice she ever received. 

What are your long-term goals for the Career Center? 

AH: Long term, I want every student to see themselves and their career path reflected in the work, services and support of the Career Center. This means broadening access to those pathways through radical collaborations with external partners like alumni, parents, employers and more. I want to partner closely with other campus offices to offer joint programming and services, making it easier for students to connect with us wherever they are on campus.

How can the Career Center assist students who want to go straight to graduate or professional school? 

AH: The Career Center can help students consider how to choose the right graduate or professional school. Additionally, we can help them prepare for the application and interview process through reviewing personal statements and providing mock interview prep. The recent integration of the Health Professions Advisory Office into the Career Center is a great example of how we’re now enabled to support every student’s career path. 

 How can alumni and other members of the Vanderbilt community play a role in the Career Center’s success? 

AH: Alumni and other members of the community play a key role—from sharing internship and shadowing opportunities, to contributing and sharing about their own career journeys on panels, to even just replying to student outreach on LinkedIn. We can’t do our work without the collaboration of the Vanderbilt community. Interested alumni should email to get engaged. 

How does the Career Center plan to engage and reach out to students? 

AH: This year the Career Center will engage all students through programming and a variety of events, including workshops, recruitment and networking opportunities, treks and more. Additionally, students can chat one on one with career coaches during drop-in hours and scheduled appointments. Students who sign up on Handshake and complete their profiles will receive targeted outreach from our office on events and opportunities that may interest them. 

 What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received? 

AH: “There are multiple paths to happiness and success.” Learning that, and knowing that I would have a variety of jobs and careers over my lifetime, took the pressure off figuring out the “perfect” next step. Taking a step forward will give you more information about yourself and the world than waiting and analyzing for the “perfect” one.