New director to lead Career Center, students toward success


Yam G-Jun

Erik J. Friedman, officially appointed as the Associate Dean of Career Development and Industry Relations for Columbia’s Career Center on Sept. 7, will be responsible for establishing the new center’s goals for helping students.

By Campus Reporter

Erik J. Friedman was appointed as associate dean of Career Development and Industry Relations as Columbia’s Career Center enters its inaugural semester, according to a Sept. 7 email from Vice President of Student Affairs Sharon Wilson-Taylor.

Friedman has 15 years of experience in career and program development and industry relations. Prior to coming to Columbia, he served as director of Student Employment and New Student Engagement for DePaul University’s career center, according to the email.

Friedman said he was looking for an opportunity to lead his own team while at Depaul and jumped at the chance to work at Columbia. He said his experience as a working musician for 16 years in Chicago helps him relate to creative students.

“I can understand and relate to the creative mindset of students at Columbia,” Friedman said. “I can combine my personal and professional side and be in a fun, engaging environment.”

According to Friedman, his responsibilities will include managing and setting goals for the Career Center, as well as helping students land jobs during and after their time at Columbia.

“Students need to be prepared to enter the workforce, and we can bridge that gap between what employers want and what the students have,” Friedman said.

Friedman’s appointment follows other changes at the Career Center, including a move to the 618 S. Michigan Ave. Building and the merging of several Columbia services now housed in the center, including Student Employment, Student Affairs, and intern advising.

Although the staff is still settling into the new location and no specific goals are in place for the Career Center, Wilson-Taylor said she is already impressed with Friedman’s leadership skills.

“I like that he’s [told] the staff, ‘OK, the place may not be as we want it to be, but students are here, so our job is to make sure that they have our utmost attention,’” Wilson-Taylor said.

Wilson-Taylor added that she thought Friedman was a good fit for the position because he understood the value of career centers.

“He articulated how he believed we could best reach employers in the industry, [and] how we could engage the college community,” Wilson-Taylor said.

Gianna Cumba, a junior public relations major, said she has started regularly visiting the new Career Center to get resume and internship help. She said the new location is more convenient for her and fellow students now that the multiple offices have merged.

“My experience with the Career Center has been really great,” Cumba said. “Everything they provide is free and very crucial to one’s success outside Columbia.”

Cumba added that she hopes Friedman will engage with Columbia’s students and build relationships with them.

“I would like to see him getting personal feedback, talking with students [about] how they like [the Career Center],” Cumba said.

“He just needs to get comfortable with students where they also feel comfortable coming to him.”