Scaling Success: The Impact of Career Peer Advisors in Elevating Career Services

By Karen Single, Career Navigator

In the academic year 2018-2019, Wheaton College’s Career Services identified the need to implement an innovative, multi-dimensional career services model that provided scalability of career advising services. Career Services saw the potential for growth that would meet both student and institutional goals, within a responsible budget and staffing structure. The Career Design Studio and the Career Peer Advisor (CPA) program are the result of this initiative.

The CPA program was inspired by other successful Wheaton peer-to-peer programs that empowered students to work directly with their peers following extensive training and with on-going constructive supervision. In conjunction with The Career Design Studio’s walk-in, open space concept the CPAs deliver “in-time” career advice for all students. Employing 8 – 10 Career Peer Advisors each academic semester, Career Services is able to offer 12 – 14 hours of quality career advice during extended hours Monday through Friday.. 

“I was concerned that my own experience with applying to internships wouldn’t be sufficient to help peers in majors different to my own. After training, I felt a lot more confident on this matter…” CPA – Daphne ’25 Biology, minor in Economics

The scheduling of the CPA walk-in hours has made Career Services more accessible to students. In addition to the ease of walking in for assistance, the extended hours have benefited students with on- and off-campus employment, leadership and athletic responsibilities, and full course schedules. The immediate availability has also benefited students meeting tight deadlines and unexpected opportunities for internships and jobs. CPAs are able to share their own experiences preparing their resumes, career exploration, internship and job applications and interviewing, and advice for successful strategies. Often becoming career role models, CPAs have created an environment that encourages repeat visits and referrals to Career Services’ next level of resources and advising.

 “As the youngest CPA, I had the opportunity to work with some great seniors who told me about their own experiences and how I could find my own (career experiences)”  CPA – Wil ’26 Marketing

As trained members of Career Services, the CPA program has elevated Career Services by providing a scalable delivery model that is professional, effective and efficient. This has allowed the professional staff to pursue partnerships with faculty, academic and student affairs colleagues, student leaders, and employers and alumni. Partnerships have contributed to the customization of career programs and resources that reflect the challenges and interests of a diverse campus community and encourage internship experiences for all students. 

The National Association of Colleges and Employers’ 2022 Student Survey Report found that “students who use the career center’s help to find an internship are 2.2 times more likely to get a paid internship than an unpaid internship or no internship at all.” The Report also found that “graduating seniors who took part in paid internships are 2.4 times more likely to say their degree is related to the job they ultimately landed…and are 3.3 times more likely to say their institution prepared them well for their career”1

The success of the Career Peer Advisor program has released professional staff hours to pursue the integration of the whole employability eco-system into, and elevating, the career preparation experience for all Wheaton students.
1VanDerziel, Shawn. “The Value of Career Services.” NACE, 28 Nov. 2022,