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Opportunities to learn extend far beyond the classroom at UCF, and many students may not know what's available for them while in college.

Across campus, various departments offer workshops for students to attend and learn valuable skills to take with them after graduation.

Career Services offered 65 workshops in the spring semester, where more than 200 students were in attendance. Through its outreach programs and workshops, it hosted 281 outreach activities that reached out to more than 10,000 students.

Workshops at UCF are available to teach students how to build a résumé, plan for an interview and explore majors and careers.

Lynn Hansen, executive director of Career Services, encourages students to attend the workshops, calling it a great opportunity to invest themselves in.

"Maybe you will find just one little piece of information that might help you along the pathway," Hansen said. "Maybe you will get a lot of information, but it is an investment in yourself … It's so beneficial to make sure that you're setting yourself up properly to be the best that you can be."

Hansen said Career Services regularly looks at its workshops and revises them every year to adapt to the change in environment. For example, it looks at patterns to determine the best day and time to conduct a workshop to reach a large capacity. Mondays and Fridays have been found to not be the best days to hold a workshop, but from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on a given day has been proven to attract a wide audience.

"The reason that we offer workshops is to help students make progress down a career preparation path," Hansen said. "By the time they're graduating, they will be ready to move on to the next step, whether that's getting a job or continuing their education. They will be as successful as possible."

Workshops are held yearlong, and the next workshop that will be offered is called Social Networking Strategies, which will take place on Thursday at 3 p.m.

Multicultural Academic Support Services is another department on campus that regularly holds workshops to teach students how to network, dress for success, understand career development and tackle issues such as domestic violence.

MASS Program Director Wayne Jackson said the department has been doing research into the outcome of students who participate in campus activities. Results have shown that students who are involved in school activities tend to have higher retention rates, grade point averages and graduation rates.

"They have a thirst, they have a desire to learn," Jackson said. "When you have a desire to learn, it's not just going to be for the workshops, it's going to be in your classes as well."

Whenever students become part of their university, Jackson said their chances of doing well academically increase.

"For us, that's why it's important for students to get involved and not just go to class and go home," he said. "We want students to get involved. You get the opportunity to network with faculty, staff and, in some cases, employers as well as other students, which then builds a camaraderie for students that are on campus."

MASS averages 30 to 40 workshops per semester, with 20 to 50 students attending each workshop. Outside of its workshops, it has seminars and leadership conferences that students can get involved with.

UCF alumna Candace Rodriguez, who graduated in spring with a marketing degree, said she first got involved with MASS her first semester at UCF.

"I didn't understand the campus, but [MASS] helped me to stay involved and know where to go to certain offices and to get close to your professors," she said. "I was learning how to build my network at UCF. That's what MASS taught me the most, is how to network and how to build my connections."

During her time at UCF, she attended four conferences through MASS and even had a chance to speak at one of its leadership retreats.

She advises students to take advantage of the workshops and programs that UCF offers, especially to get involved with other departments. Her last semester was fully paid due to the scholarships she attained from participating in the different departments.

Rodriguez notes that many students are afraid to seek help, but MASS helped her step out of her comfort zone.

"Your time at UCF is timed," she said. "It's going to be up one day, so take advantage of what you have when you have it."

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Amelia Truong is a Digital Producer for the Central Florida Future. Follow her on Twitter at @Ameliatruong or email her at AmyT@CentralFloridaFuture.com.

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