A Plan for Uncertainty:
KELLY VAN FOSSEN ZEROS IN ON HER CAREER GOALS AT RCSJ
When Kelly Van Fossen graduated from West Deptford High School in 2019, she did not have a specific career goal in mind, but she did have a plan – and that plan started at Rowan College of South Jersey (RCSJ).
“I was at that stage where I just didn't know what I wanted to do with my life, as a lot of teenagers are," Van Fossen explained. “RCSJ is local, they have a great program with financial aid, and they have things that I'm interested in, so it was a good fit for me."
A good fit quickly turned into a great opportunity when Van Fossen received an email informing her that she was eligible for the Gloucester County Intern Scholarship Program (GCISP), which covers up to two years of tuition and academic fees at RCSJ and provides career related internship experience.
“I'm really lucky to be in the Gloucester County Intern Scholarship Program," Van Fossen admits. “It gave me a real-life opportunity to look into the careers I could be interested in, plus having an internship will look good on my resume."
She enrolled at RCSJ in fall of 2019 as a Business Administration major, with her sights set on an accounting career. Van Fossen began her GCISP accounting internship at the Gloucester County Department of Social Services. While she found her new coworkers to be kind and supportive, she discovered that the rigidity of accounting was not for her.
“My first internship definitely gave me a clearer idea of what I want to do," she said. “I learned that I'll need a creative outlet – something where it's not very static. I have so much respect for the people that do accounting, but I value having a more flowing and open schedule."
So, she took a second look at her career aspirations. Van Fossen used all the career exploration resources RCSJ offered: she spoke to her advisor, met with her professors to discuss their fields, and she reached out to the College's Internship and Career Planning (ICP) division.
“The Division of Internships and Career Planning meets students where they are to help them clarify and achieve their career aspirations," said Gloucester campus ICP Director, Kristen Whyte. “Once students are able to identify their goals, we can provide a personalized career plan for their chosen field, match students to paid internship opportunities through our Internships and Career Connections program, and even provide job search, resume and interview preparation assistance."
Van Fossen met with Whyte; through discussion and a series of self-guided assessments they worked to find career options that played to her strengths and aligned with her skills, interests, personality and values. She found herself drawn to the creativity involved in marketing and advertising.
Van Fossen was set up a new GCISP internship at the Department of Social Services – this time focused on economics. There she assisted in Gloucester County's efforts to support the local business community through the COVID-19 pandemic. Van Fossen helped to provide information on critical resources for small businesses and their employees and promoted “shop local" campaigns to drive sales. She loved the community involvement and the relevant, creative nature of the work.
“My accounting internship gave me the real-world experience to realize I didn't fit into that," she explained. “When they transferred me to an economics internship it was definitely much more up my alley. I'm figuring it out at RCSJ and I'm not stressing about money, which is just really great."
The sophomore will graduate from RCSJ this May and plans on transferring to Rowan University to major in Advertising. Van Fossen's ultimate goal is to dedicate her career to promoting brands that make our world a better place, and she is glad she made the decision to start at RCSJ.
“There's no shame in starting at a four-year school – everybody has different plans that work for them," Van Fossen reflected. “But if you're in a position where you're not sure what you want to do, or you want something that is affordable and local, RCSJ has a lot of opportunities where you can get a good education and real-world career experience.
For more information on the career exploration services and internship opportunities available to RCSJ students, visit RCSJ.edu/ICP.