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.

Did you know that 88% of our students are employed 1 year after graduation and 74% are working in their field of study? Find out more here.


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.

Jennifer HalperinInternship and Career Advisor

Jennifer Halperin

Jennifer 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 HennessyAssistant Director, Industry Relations

Melissa Hennessy

With a BFA in Photography, Melissa began her career assisting commercial photographers in NYC for four years before shooting on her own for 10 years. During that time she realized that she really liked the business side of "getting the jobs."  In 2004, she started Hennessy Reps, Inc. where she was fortunate enough to represent nationally some of the best and most genuine photographers and directors in the business, spend time with a great group of clients, and work with incredibly skilled producers and crews.

Melissa took the knowledge of business, communication, marketing, negotiating, social media, and more and run a consultancy for small businesses that are finding their voice and audience and growing their brands.  

A serial freelancer and entrepreneur who takes pride in building and maintaining brands and relationships, Melissa enjoy sharing her knowledge and experience with students to help them build their own confidence and achieve their goals. 

Etholia HolmesInternship and Career Advisor

Etholia Holmes

Etholia is a Columbia College Chicago Alum with a BA in Television: Writing and Producing.   She worked as a production team member for The Oprah Winfrey Show & OWN Network.  Etholia is  the Founder & President  of a youth resource nonprofit organization.   She has a M.B.A. in Nonprofit Management from Concordia University Chicago as well as an Adjunct Faculty member for the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship under the College of Business.  Internship and Career Advisor for Cinema and Television students at Columbia College of Chicago.  Etholia’s extensive experience in philanthropy, education and media production has equipped her with the tools and resources needed to help students. Etholia is elated to experience such a full circle moment of reuniting with her  alma-mater at deeper capacity and quest to serve as the Internship & Career Advisor for Cinema & Television students. 

Etholia loves, reading, traveling, writing, running, and philanthropic projects. Most of all she loves spending time with her favorite people in the world, her hubby, two sons, & Goldendoodle named Lady.


Darlene JacksonCreative Industry Liaison

Darlene Jackson

Darlene Jackson, MS, is a Creative Industry Liaison with the Career Center of Columbia College. Her specialties are in the performing arts (Theatre, Dance, Music & Fashion) and she is a respected voice in Chicago’s creative community. Named “Chicago’s House Music Queen” by Chicago Magazine, Darlene aka DJ Lady D, is an internationally traveled DJ, producer and music publisher who launched her independent record label and marketing brand, D’lectable, in 2004. She first acted professionally in The Marva Collins Story (with Cicely Tyson and Morgan Freeman) and as a renowned DJ has been a featured subject in numerous print, television and film outlets including the music documentaries Girl, The Godfather of Disco, and Slipcue. In 2016’s Disco Demolition: The Night Disco Died (Dahl/Hoekstra), she was one of the featured subjects.

Darlene is a member of the Screen Actors Guild and NARAS. She is a public speaker included on panels for Social Media Week, One City One Book, Millikin University and has led campaigns for the Chicago Public Library. As a presenter for radio, film, and television, she has written for various media outlets including the Chicago Tribune & Metromix, hosted and produced for Chicago Public Media and Vocalo.org, and worked with NPR and BBC radio shows as a writer and researcher. She also has professional freelance experience in advertising, working with brands such as McDonalds and United Airlines with groups such as Burrell, Gray Direct, Flowers Communications and Leo Burnett. 

At the Career Center, Darlene works with individuals to uncover their unique assets, identify their skills and plan career strategies that match their passion to their purpose. She curates programming that connects professionals to individuals for opportunities to learn, discover and share knowledge, ideas, and industry best practices. By maintaining relationships that actively create career possibilities in relevant ways, she is a considerable resource to the team.

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.

Dirk MatthewsAssociate Director of Portfolio and Career Integretion

Dirk Matthews

Dirk graduated from Columbia College Chicago with a Bachelor of Science from the Film & Video Department. He is an educator, career specialist, filmmaker and photographer. For the past 13 years, Dirk has worked with students, alumni and professionals in developing their reels and portfolios. He teaches Career Strategy, Visual Analysis and Film Distribution courses at Columbia.

His freelance film and photography experience spans 20 years on projects ranging from architectural and commercial photography to documentary and experimental films. Dirk took a break from his freelance career to work as a licensed therapist in the State of Arizona, specializing in Gestalt and cognitive therapy. Recently Dirk worked on restoration efforts for a 1974 documentary about Marc Chagall bringing his Four Seasons mural to Chicago, and coordinated distribution for the films of experimental filmmaker Peter Thompson. His photography has appeared online in Architectural digest and recently collaborated with author and filmmaker Michael Rabiger to write a chapter about careers in his book Directing the Documentary.

Since Dirk isn’t busy enough, he is currently working on his Master’s Degree in Organizational Psychology.

When not at work, Dirk is an architectural photographer and has been published online in Architectural Digest. View Dirk’s portfolio here.

Rebecca ReulandInternship and Career Advisor

Rebecca Reuland is an Internship and Career Advisor for the Career Center at Columbia College Chicago. She has a BFA in Photography from Columbia and MA in Photography from Sotheby’s Institute of Art in London. Rebecca worked for a well renowned architectural photography firm and traveled the US extensively with a large format camera. She also has experience working in museums and archives in Chicago and London. Rebecca has been an arts educator for over a decade serving in various roles such as a teaching artist, mentor and most recently as an adjunct professor.  As an advisor she works with Art/Art History, Fashion, and Photography students.

Valerie RobbinsEmployer Relations Coordinator

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.

Rossana Rodríguez SánchezInternship and Career Advisor

Rossana Rodríguez Sánchez

Rossana is was born and raised in Puerto Rico and graduated from the University of Puerto Rico with a BA in Theater Education. She became a teacher and community theater practitioner in Puerto Rico creating artistic work with underserved communities. She directed and facilitated theater projects in prisons, rehabilitation centers, schools, mental health institutions and other non-theatrical spaces. She also worked as a Theater Professor at the University of Puerto Rico. She moved to Manchester, UK to pursue an MA in Applied Theater and moved to Chicago to work as a Director, Songwriter, Advisor and Mentor with the Albany Park Theater Project (APTP).

During her 7 years with APTP, Rossana Co-Created, Co-Directed and wrote all the songs for every APTP Play including Feast (2010 and 2016), Home Land (2012 and 2014)  I Will Kiss These Walls (2013)  Learning Curve (2016) and Co-Directed a second life of God’s Work (2014). Her work with APTP has been repeatedly presented at The Goodman Theater and other theaters around the country. During Rossana’s time as a Director with APTP the company won a MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions. She has travelled around Latin America learning from theater companies such as  Malayerba (Ecuador), The late Augusto Boal at the Center for the Theater of the Oppressed (Brazil) and the Yuyachkani theater company (Perú). She has also collaborated with companies such as Third Rail Projects (NY), Y No Había Luz (Puerto Rico) and Common Wealth Theater (UK). Rossana is very excited to be part of the Columbia family as the Career and Internship Advisor for the Theater and Dance students.

Angela SheridonCreative Industry Liaison

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. 

Angela joined the Career Center at Columbia College Chicago in 2014. As the Employment Coordinator and now a Creative Industry Liaison she's forged connections with the visual and performing arts communities and advocates on behalf of Columbia College talent. She's also led the development of employment recruitment programs that bring together employers, students, and alumni. Having sustained strong, working relationships, throughout her career, she continues to be involved with her widespread network in the on-screen media, commercial, advertising, film, video, digital content, film, and broadcast production industries. She feels that finding relevant opportunities for students and helping to match up employers with Columbia talent has by far been her most gratifying work.

Brian SocallAssistant Director, Career Development

Brian is a career development professional and experiential education specialist and trainer. His work in the Career Center is focused on supporting students in their career development: connecting their skills and interests to future work and becoming professionally prepared for their careers. He comes to Columbia from Chicago Scholars where he was the Director of College to Careers for almost three years.

Prior to that, he worked for seven years with buildOn, an international youth development and education organization where he managed youth programming in a dozen Chicago Public High Schools (CPS); led teams of CPS students to build schools on three continents; and created leadership, mentoring and career services programs.

After college, Brian completed a 2-year Peace Corps assignment in a small fishing village on the Caribbean in Nicaragua and upon his return to the U.S., he helped start an international travel and social justice awareness not-for-profit, while also working in psychiatric hospitals with adolescents.

Brian is an avid traveler and cook and has two young boys who would prefer to simply live outside than with him and his wife. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Master of Arts in Social Justice.

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).