Cathy Barrios helps to put undergraduate students on a successful and enjoyable career path

By Amber Deschene

Cathy Barrios packs a lot of work, time, and events into her job as an advisor for Florida State University’s Career Center.

Visitors to the advising area of the Williams Building might not know that in addition to helping English students find their career path, Barrios guides any student who is in a humanities field under the College of Arts and Sciences.

Her support comes in many forms: advising students about potential internship, career, and campus involvement opportunities; hosting events on campus to ensure students have access to the Career Center’s services; sitting on panels to offer in-person advice for students; and even visiting classes to speak with students in a more informal way.

In her fourth-floor Williams Building office, Barrios meets with students and helps them get a clearer idea of what they want to do in the future. Her job is to connect students to different professional opportunities.

“When we first sit down to talk, I try to gauge where they are in the process; whether they are looking for an internship, a job, or just need professional assistance,” Barrios says. “Then we go from there, providing them with resources and helping them reach their goals.”

Barrios offers scheduled appointments and drop-in hours throughout the week, but the busyness of her schedule can vary, depending on the time of the year. Drop/add week and graduation time are especially busy for Barrios. She covers courses with career and professional development workshops, cover letters, internship openings, and helps student explore all of their opportunities after graduation.

When Barrios is not busy guiding other people through vital decisions in their lives, she is busy living her own life to the fullest. Born in Los Angeles but raised in South Florida, Barrios earned her bachelor's degree at FSU in International Affairs and Political Science, with a focus in Mandarin Chinese at FSU. Now, she is currently working on her master's degree in public administration

Being from the West Coast, Barrios visits her family as much as she can. While most people usually travel 2,000 miles by airplane, Barrios chooses to road trip.

“I always travel with friends or family, so it’s a really nice bonding experience,” she says. “Plus, I love exploring new places along the way.”

If not in her office or on the road, she can usually be found outside in nature, hiking trails or walking around parks.

Since her students come from different majors and focuses, Barrios has a wide variety of problems to handle each day. Her advice ranges from enhancing student’s resumes to examining future career paths—and everything in between.

“Many students are interested in graduate school options, how to get in, and what they need to do to get prepared,” she says. “Others are ready to go to work and gain experience. I can help with both.”

Barrios recently held an event in the fall of 2018 on FSU’s campus that offered advice to students who want to go into education and how to become teachers or professors. Humanities students often want to go into teaching, Barrios says, and she knew it was important to help these students with their next steps.

While students who attend a specific event like that one have a solid idea of what career path they want, she comes across a lot who aren't so sure. And she appreciates exploring that uncertainty with them.

“It makes the job very challenging, in the best way possible,” says Barrios says. "I love working in the public sector. I try to absorb absolutely everything, and meanwhile I get to help people find their purpose in life."

Amber Deschene graduated in Spring 2017 with a degree in humanities. She is currently completing the English department's Certificate in Publishing and Editing.