Our Mission

The Career Center develops programs and services to provide Columbia College Chicago students with self-knowledge, experience and connections to industry in order to develop career confidence, enhance their employability and pursue meaningful career-related experiences.

By fostering and maintaining partnerships with faculty, staff, alumni, and employers, the Career Center creates a community of advocates that support students’ interests, passions and values to help navigate the path from college to career.


Sarah ButlerInternship and Career Advisor

Sarah Butler

Sarah Butler is an Internship and Career Advisor in the Career Center at Columbia College Chicago. She works with all Fashion and Theatre students.

Born and raised in Chicago, Sarah is an alumna of Columbia and earned a degree in Media Arts. During her time at Columbia, Sarah participated in a variety of internships including promotions, production, and on-air. Not only did these internships provide Sarah with real-life work experience and significant industry connections, but they also led to opportunities in alternate markets.

Following graduation, Sarah moved to Los Angeles, where she built her career in media. She spent seven years there before realizing that Chicago would always be home and she happily joined the Career Center in 2016 upon moving back. Sarah has a passion for people and is dedicated to helping students obtain a positive, educational internship that will help transition them into their desired career path.

Laura DanielsAssistant Director of Internships and Career Advising

Laura Daniels

Laura Daniels is the Assistant Director of Internships and Career Advising at the Career Center. Previously, she was the External Relations Coordinator for the Interactive Arts and Media Department where she increased industry relations and student participation in conferences such as the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco and SXSW in Austin. Prior to coming to Columbia, Laura held a variety of positions in the television industry including working for NBC Universal as an NBC Page, for A&E in development and on production for My Strange Addition.

Originally from Wisconsin, Laura spent three years working in New York City before moving to Chicago in 2012. She currently works with the students in the Interactive Arts and Media Department.

Erik J. FriedmanAssociate Dean of Career Development and Industry Relations

Erik J. Friedman

Erik J. Friedman joined the Columbia College Chicago Career Center as Associate Dean of Career Development and Industry Relations in September 2016. Erik came to Columbia from DePaul University where he worked in the Career Center for the past fifteen years. Prior to DePaul, Erik worked in career development at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago and Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania. Erik has a passion for designing transformational experiences that help students to learn about themselves and succeed in their desired career paths. He is very excited to bring his experience and enthusiasm for career development to Columbia College.

Erik has a B.A. in Sociology from Bowling Green State University in Ohio, and an M.A. in Counseling and Educational Psychology with a focus on Higher Education from Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania. In addition to his professional work, he has been a performing musician in Chicago for the past sixteen years playing harmonica and guitar.

Rob FunderburkCreative Industry Liaison

Rob Funderburk

Rob Funderburk is a visual artist, designer, and educational specialist with nearly two decades of cross-functional team experience in publishing, communications, design, and arts production. At Columbia, Rob helps students explore careers, develop effective portfolios and healthy creative practices, and establish professional traction. He works closely with faculty and external partners to create engagement opportunities and supported pathways for students to emerge as strong, contributing members of professional creative communities.

Rob’s studio practice is centered in drawing and painting, and extends to printmaking, performance projects, and large-scale installations as well as creative consulting with a diverse range of clients and collaborators. He is a graduate of Indiana University, and his work has been featured or presented by the DePaul University Art Museum, Galerie F, Constellation, Elastic Arts, Open-End Gallery, AV-Aerie, Believe Inn, Poetry Magazine, Featherproof, Curbside Splendor, Stop Smiling Magazine, THE2NDHAND, Proximity Magazine, Kartemquin Films, National Pastime Theater, and Redmoon Theater, among other outlets.


Michael GoodeCareer Development Coordinator

Michael Goode

After five post-undergraduate years of document filing, towel folding, and graduate school studies, Michael’s journey as a late-blooming, Millennial wanderer brought him to the Career Center in March of 2014.

As the Career Development Coordinator, he has been honored with the responsibility of educating, preparing, and supporting the extraordinarily talented student body at Columbia College Chicago. Through his generalist approach to career development, Michael is able to reach an exciting range of creative and artistic individuals with a variety of skills, passions, and stories to tell. Michael’s experiences connecting with and assisting Columbia students has been rewarding beyond words.

Michael received a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and a Master of Education in Counseling from DePaul University. He lives in the Lincoln Square neighborhood of Chicago and is the proud owner of nearly 200 sports-themed bobblehead figurines.

Jennifer HalperinInternship and Career Advisor

Jennifer HalperinJennifer Halperin was a long-time newspaper reporter and editor before joining Columbia's staff in 2007. Jennifer is an Internship and Career Advisor in the Career Center working with journalism, creative writing, English, photography, graphic design and other communications-oriented students and alumni. She is eager to help anyone with internship and job searches, or with making connections in their field.

Melissa HennessyCreative Industry Liaison

Melissa Hennessy

Before joining the Career Center, Melissa worked as an artist’s agent representing still and motion photographers in all genres for editorial and commercial advertising. She took her love for branding, marketing, advertising, promotion, estimating, and producing, and began working with Columbia College Chicago as an adjunct to teach a combination business and portfolio development class.

Melissa graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Rochester Institute of Technology, and has over twenty years of experience in the business as a photographer, agent, and account executive. She is very active in the Chicago advertising, photography, dance, and fashion communities and enjoys working with students to help them prepare for and understand what's ahead in their future careers.

Poonam JoshiStudent Employment Coordinator

Poonam Joshi

Poonam never thought she would be working in Higher Education, but by fate, she ended up in the field. Before she began her current role as the Student Employment Coordinator, she worked as an Enrollment Specialist and International Student Advisor at Oakton Community College, where she developed her passion for assisting students in achieving their dreams. While she was there, she noticed the immense impact that Student Employees can have on a department. Their hard work and luminosity truly made working at a college enjoyable and led her to her current role at Columbia College Chicago.

As the Coordinator of Student Employment, Poonam provides support to current students who are seeking on-campus and part-time employment. She is excited to be a part of the Career Center where she is able to contribute to student success at Columbia.

Poonam graduated from Loyola University Chicago, where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Psychology, and she is currently working towards her master’s degree in Organizational and Multicultural Communication DePaul Unversity. When she is not working, she is either taking pictures of her food at a vegetarian-friendly restaurant or planning her next vacation.

Tom JoyceInternship and Career Advisor

Tom Joyce

Tom Joyce is an Internship and Career Advisor for the Career Center at Columbia College Chicago. Prior to his current position, he spent 23 years as a full-time staff member for the Radio Department at Columbia College Chicago, serving as Internship Coordinator, Industry Relations Coordinator, Event Coordinator, Web Master, and Studio Center Coordinator. He is a 1993 graduate of Columbia College Chicago. As a student, he was Sports Director and Alternative Music Director for the school radio station, WCRX-FM. While attending Columbia and thereafter, he worked as a Voiceover Talent and Production Assistant at both All My Features and Connor Communications in Chicago. Throughout his endeavors in the media industry, he has interviewed a wide range of local and national athletes and musicians and has reported on a number of important events. Born and raised in Chicago, he prides himself on, “Putting students in a position to succeed in experiential learning activities, internships, or employment opportunities.” Tom works with students in the following Departments: Radio, Audio Arts & Acoustics, Science & Mathematics, and serves as a secondary for students in Cinema Art & Science.

Jenny MaderalCommunications and Events Associate

Jenny Maderal

Jenny graduated from the University of Michigan with a Bachelor of Arts in English and Communications. Following graduation, she moved to New York to pursue a career in publicity. She gained valuable PR experience in various industries—including off-Broadway production at Origlio/Miramontez Co., book publishing at Henry Holt and Company, and commercial production at Furlined. She transitioned away from publicity to take on a marketing and development role at Public Prep, a network of charter schools in New York. Through that job Jenny realized her passion for supporting students’ educational pursuits.

As the Communications and Events Associate, Jenny handles marketing and event promotion at the Career Center, in addition to assisting with event planning and logistics. Her role at the Career Center allows her to blend her own career goals with the overarching goal of providing meaningful events that connect students with industry professionals who have found a way to be successful while pursuing their art.

Dirk MatthewsAssociate Director

Dirk Matthews

Dirk graduated from Columbia College Chicago with a Bachelor of Science from the Film & Video Department and has worked in the film industry in various capacities, including DP, producer, director, and editor on multiple projects.

In addition to his work in the film industry, Dirk studied psychology and received his counseling certification in the State of Arizona. After a period of time as co-director of a treatment facility, he returned to the Midwest to teach as an adjunct instructor in the Cinema Art + Science Department at Columbia. This led to him working as the Internship Coordinator for the department prior to co-founding the Portfolio Center, now known as the Career Center.

Dirk is the Associate Director of the Career Center and recently, he completed his Global Career Development Facilitator (GCDF) certification through the National Career Development Association. In his role at the Career Center, he leads the Industry Engagement team and oversees outcomes tracking. He has presented about portfolios and career development internationally. Recently he co-authored a chapter in Michael Rabiger’s Directing the Documentary, supporting documentary students in their search for employment. When not at work, Dirk is an architectural photographer and has been published online in Architectural Digest. View Dirk’s photography here.

Aundrea Parsons (Dre')Internship and Career Advisor

Aundrea Parsons (Dre’) is an Internship and Career Advisor for the Career Center at Columbia College Chicago. Prior to joinging the Career Center,  she was the Industry Relations & Internship Coordinator for the Television Department at Columbia. Dre’ comes from a diverse professional background, which includes working with the WWE’s NXT brand as a Social Media & Live Event intern. She also spent time working with WCIU and various other entertainment production companies. Dre’ also has a background in performing arts as a dancer, choreographer, and creative director. She works with the students majoring in Music, Music Business, Television, and Dance.

Lyn PusztaiInternship and Career Advisor

Lyn Pusztai is an Internship and Career Advisor for the Career Center with a focus on Cinema Arts + Science students, whom she has served since 2007. In her role, she cultivates and nurtures both student and industry relationships with the goal of creating exciting internship opportunities for Columbia students. Her background includes 13 years as a Human Resources manager for InfoComm Print/Jade Design, and 25 years designing sets and costumes for numerous Chicago venues, including The Second City, Improv Olympic, and Annoyance Theatre, where she is a founding member and Resident Designer. She also is co-owner and designer of Roulette 18, an international jewelry line based in Chicago.

Valerie RobbinsColumbiaWorks Administrator

Valerie Robbins

Valerie is a talented creative professional with a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre from Columbia College Chicago. In her role at the Career Center, she maintains Columbia’s online job board, ColumbiaWorks-powered by Handshake. She provides training for students, staff, and faculty who need assistance posting jobs and creating accounts. In addition, Valerie assists with payroll processing for student employees.

She is currently working towards her Master of Arts in Inner City Studies at Northeastern Illinois University, with a research focus on Intimate Partner Violence in Black Lesbian and Transwomen relationships.

Outside of work, Valerie is a foodie who enjoys watching anime and being surrounded by artistic people. She works to be the best person that she can be and believes in the words of Booker T. Washington: “Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed.

Angela SheridonEmployment Coordinator

Angela Sheridon

Originally from the Motor City, Angela began her career at the worldwide ad agency, BBDO Detroit where she worked in the broadcast production department, assisting on television and radio commercials. During her time at the agency, some of the most influential commercial work had been accomplished by some of the world’s most renowned filmmakers.

A few years later, she went on to further her education and moved to Chicago to enter Columbia College Chicago’s film production program. Concurrently, she lined up a job representing visual media artists for commercials, including the creative digital agency Digital Kitchen. She represented directors such as Michel Gondry, Traktor, Jesse Dylan, Chris Applebaum, and Antoine Bardout-Jacquet. It was a very dynamic time in her career, but with her goal of pursuing a role in production, she then moved to LA to work with companies such as Hungry Man, Radical Media, and Tool. 

Achieving her goal on the West Coast, Angela made her way back to the Windy City and was introduced to the business of public relations, rounding out her background in advertising and commercial production. This work brought about her experience in PR for several acclaimed companies, including Backyard, Supply&Demand Integrated, and Harpoon Pictures. 

In her current role as the Employment Coordinator at the Career Center, Angela forges connections with the visual and performing arts communities. Having sustained strong, working relationships, throughout her career, she continues to be involved with her widespread network in the broadcast, on-screen media, commercial, advertising, film and production industries. She feels that finding relevant opportunities for students and helping to match up employers with Columbia students has by far been her most gratifying work.

Jo-Nell SierenInternship and Career Advisor

Jo-Nell Sieren

Jo-Nell Sieren is an Internship and Career Advisor for the Career Center at Columbia College Chicago. In addition to this role, Jo-Nell is Adjunct Faculty for both Design and Photography departments. Jo-Nell also mentors and directs a small group of students each semester who create Frank Magazine, a digital publication available from the Apple App Store and created with Adobe Digital Publishing Suite (DPS). Jo-Nell is a graduate of the School of Visual Art in New York City, and her professional background includes working as a Photographer, Designer, Assistant Gallery Director, Curriculum Director and Instructor for a children’s art program. As an Advisor, she works with the students majoring in Photography, Design, Art, Art History and Interactive Arts Media (IAM).

Jo-Nell currently lives in the West Loop with her husband, toddler, and fuzzy dog.

Sarah ValentinoAdministrative Assistant

Sarah Valentino

Sarah began her career path in Higher Ed while earning a BFA from Pratt Institute in her home city of New York. While tutoring students in Art History, she got a taste of academic administration, and then worked her way through the cable broadcast industry, kimono sales, and library science. After venturing west – mid-west – she found a new home in Chicago and proudly joined Columbia College in February of 2016.

Here at the Career Center, Sarah keeps the place, and its people, organized. In addition, she oversees front desk operations. Sarah is pleased to work with Columbia’s talented students and is delighted to have an impact on their success.

Eric WordlowAssistant Director - Student Employment

Eric Wordlow

Eric began his career in Student Employment while working as a student employee throughout graduate school. He had an incredible start to his career by being exposed to various facets of student employment. Before joining Columbia in 2015, he worked for a higher education system school that gave him the opportunity to oversee student employment efforts at four schools in seven cities. Eric considers himself a student employee activist, and he stands firmly in the belief that student employment is a solid career development opportunity for students to enhance their personal, professional and creative growth.

As the Assistant Director of Student Employment, Eric oversees student employment programming, advocates for the role of student employment, and develops policies and procedures for students and supervisors.

Eric holds a Bachelor of Arts from Fisk University and a Masters of Arts from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. He remains connected and actively engaged in the Student Employment community in his role as a Student Employment Essential (SEE) Trainer, in addition to serving on the Board of Directors for the Midwest Association of Student Employment Administrators (MASEA).