During her four years at Rhodes College, urban studies major and Memphis native Emma Taylor has worked in Career Services, where she has not only honed her own leadership skills, but has also cultivated leadership in others.
Career Services offers a variety of resources, including professional advising, help with majors, professional development, networking opportunities, graduate school and career fairs, and the job-search platform Handshake.
Taylor’s first two years were spent learning the ropes and performing administrative tasks in the office. But in her junior year, she found her niche as the programming RSA for first-year and second-year students, working to connect them with organizations for internships and employment.
“I like helping people create resumés and showing them how to communicate with employers. I feel like I have been given a lot of responsibility, designing programs for students. The position has really solidified my skills in terms of creativity and leadership,” says Taylor, who is pursuing the community health track of the urban studies major and is interested in becoming a registered nurse or nurse practitioner. “I feel like working in Career Services has also helped prepare me for applying to schools for nursing.”
Taylor has either co-created or been instrumental in the offering of programs such as the Weekly Career Services Genius Bar, featuring drop-in hours for resumé and cover letter help; If You Love It, Declare It, which provides information sessions about declaring academic majors; and the Success Series, which presents events for professional development.
“Emma’s willingness to try and push the boundaries of programming, both by improving our existing programs and trailblazing on new initiatives, has elevated our work in our mission to improve the lives of students,” says Alex Schramkowski ’20, who works as the employer relations RSA in Career Services. “Coming up with the vision of the Genius Bar was a collective effort, but it was Emma’s quick ability to formulate a plan for it. The program itself helps break down barriers, and allows for students to discuss important professional development tips such as how to interview and how to create a resume effectively with the assistance of their peers.”
“Emma puts forth 100 percent into all that she does, and I appreciate her efforts in actively seeking ways to contribute at Rhodes,” says Sandi George Tracy, director of Career Services. “She is a valued member of our staff and will be greatly missed after she graduates. I am confident that she will be extremely successful all through her life’s journey.”
In 2018, Taylor served as student coordinator for the Summer Service Fellowship program, an intensive nine-week program focused on community involvement. “I helped fellows figure out where they wanted to work for the summer, based on what they care about.”
“Emma’s knowledge of and perspective on issues in Memphis made my Summer Service Fellowship experience so meaningful,” says Tony Eskridge ’20. “Governments and community leaders around the country are talking about important issues such as public transit access, food security, and health care, and I feel prepared to have a seat at these tables to create solutions in part because of Emma's leadership and guidance in the Summer Service Fellowship.”
“Not only was Emma organized and dedicated to the work, but she also cared about each of us as individuals,” adds Summer Service Fellow Jordana Terrell ’20. “I appreciate her passion—she always went out of her way to ensure that we were each feeling confident and successful in our work.”
In the summer of 2019, Taylor conducted research on health care access for incarcerated African American women in Tennessee as part of the Rhodes Institute for Regional Studies. In addition to working in Career Services, she is a fellow for the Wellness and Stress Clinic of Memphis, which is in partnership with Rhodes.
“I recruit students from Rhodes to intern and volunteer at the program, and I just help where help is needed,” she says. “I can see myself opening up a clinic one day or providing equitable health care, whether that’s going to people’s homes or participating in free clinics.”
As May graduation approaches, Taylor’s advice to seniors is: “Now is the time to take advantage of every opportunity or situation you’re in, whether it’s positive or negative. There is always something good you will be able to get out of it, and you’ll gain a more holistic perspective.”
By Meg Jerit ’20