Toppel Career Center’s Christian Garcia Appointed to NACE Board of Directors

Garcia’s appointment comes as the career center he leads celebrates the opening of a new home.

By Robert C. Jones Jr.
UM News

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (February 13, 2014) — Before 2009 the closest Christian Garcia had ever gotten to the study of architecture was helping University of Miami students who majored in the discipline to find jobs. But that year, when UM told Garcia that the Patricia and Harold Toppel Career Center he leads would have to move from its longtime home into different digs, he delved into architecture with a passion, helping to design the new headquarters that has transformed the way UM now prepares students for the job market.

Such creativity and decision-making proved instrumental in Garcia being appointed to the board of directors of the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), a Bethlehem, Pennsylvania-based nonprofit that connects college career services and recruiting professionals interested in the employment of the college educated.

“This invitation acknowledges the distinctive, impressive, and effective work that Christian and the Toppel staff have undertaken and are doing,” said William Scott Green, senior vice provost and dean of undergraduate education. “Christian’s leadership is animated by an authentic commitment to our students’ welfare and a real knowledge of best practices in the field.”

Garcia will serve a two-year term as director of college membership on the NACE board of directors. “NACE has thousands of college members from all over the country, but how do we continue to engage them? That’ll be one of my biggest responsibilities,” said Garcia, who is now in his fifth year as executive director of the Toppel Career Center.

He called his appointment “validation of plenty of hard work—not just by me but my entire staff. We’re doing some innovative and groundbreaking things at Toppel, and we’re being recognized for it.”

Much of that innovation comes in the form of high-tech features infused throughout the Toppel Center’s new home, from live videoconferencing—in the past, the center had to rely on other venues for such capability—to interview suites with ceiling-mounted miniature cameras that record mock job interviews. Using Lecture Capture software, the center video records its conferences and seminars, streaming and archiving the contents to its website. And inside the Stone-Rodriguez Family Career Technology Lab, students use PCs and Macs to produce job-winning resumes and cover letters.

Garcia insisted on having such technology infused into Toppel’s new home when he collaborated with UM architects on its design.

But long before Garcia and his staff moved into the cutting-edge facility, he improved the career center in other ways. He led an effort to ramp up the center’s social media presence, changing its Facebook and Twitter postings to engage more students, alumni, and employers. “We posed questions and asked people to get involved, provide feedback, and share resources that would be beneficial to our constituents,” said Garcia. “I got my entire staff involved. I knew that it couldn’t be just one voice.”

The center is now on nine different social networking sites, from Instagram and LinkedIn to Foursquare and Pinterest—all of which it uses to reach different audiences.

Under Garcia, Toppel increased its staff to 18, allowing it to serve a greater number of students and alumni. And more big-name companies like Google and Citi now recruit on campus. “That’s been a big win for us,” said Garcia.

He said there couldn’t be a better time to work in career services. “We see the impact we have on students,” said Garcia. “Sometimes a student will come in and say, ‘I have no idea what I want to do.’ But then we give them an assessment and see the light bulb go off. That’s when we know in some small way we had a part in their success.”

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