Toppel helps you “find the section & the seat”

Toppel Career Center offers a plethora of services catering to the different qualifications and aspirations of students and alumni at the University of Miami.
“They know the stadium they want to play in but they don’t know the section or the seat. We help them find the section and the seat,” explained James Smart, the director of Toppel Career Center, regarding the services offered.
According to Smart, the vision of the Toppel Career Center is to serve as a “bridge between academics and the real world.”
Services Toppel offers include resume critiquing, career advising and counseling, career development programs and internship programs.
The Toppel Career center also organizes and hosts numerous career building events including Career Expos in the fall and spring semesters and Toppel 101, a one hour workshop designed to help students reach their goals, whether career-oriented or focusing on graduate study.
“It’s steps for graduation and how to stay on the right track, career development skills and how to network,” said Alexis Franklin, a member of the Toppel Student Advisory Board, of Toppel 101.
Originally offered to seniors only, due to popular demand Toppel 101 will be open to all students enrolled at the University and will be held through Nov. 25.
“The Toppel Career Resource Library is full of books, magazines, newspapers and job listings that can help students to find the right career path or help them discover where they’d like to be after graduation,” said Jill Borges of the Toppel Student Advisory board of the career resource and research facility located inside Toppel.
Many students are unaware of the vast wealth of career information located within walking distance from their classes, and while some students know of the Toppel Career Center, they possess a minimal understanding of the features and services available.
Junior Bianca Biagioni remarked, “I have no idea even where the building is.”
“I know that they do resume critiques and career planning, but I’ve never actually taken advantage of their services,” said junior Melissa Perez.
Sophomore Sammy Nader shared the same unclear perception of Toppel.
“In orientation, we were told to post our resume on the internet or to take it over there so that they can critique it, but that’s all I know,” explained Nader. “I don’t even know where it is.”
Many students have difficulty accessing the services provided because of restrictions of time and transportation.
“I don’t live on campus, so I only come here for class, and I’d never think to come here just for that,” commented junior Stephanie Altuve.
Senior Marci Hora, also a commuter, shared the same concerns. “I went once to look at pamphlets and see if they had jobs posted, but I’m never on that side of campus.”
“Toppel should reach out to students more instead of students having to reach out to them,” commented junior Tiffany Rainey. “I still don’t know exactly what they can do for me.”
“I definitely don’t think students use Toppel enough. I think this is due, in part, to the fact that they are not fully aware of all that Toppel can offer. Most people don’t know that they can go to Toppel to get their resume critiqued, or for a mock interview,” explained Toppel Student Advisory Board member Valerie Figueredo.
For students who have difficulty taking advantage of the on-site Toppel services, Toppel also offers an interactive website which can be accessed through the University of Miami website and links to Cane Trak, a service through which students can search for internships, find out what companies are recruiting on campus and submit their resumes online. “It’s a great tool you can use from anywhere at any time,” said Figueredo.
Students who have taken advantage of some of the services offered at Toppel are quite satisfied with the guidance and information they have received.
“I would say that the great thing about Toppel is they have an unlimited amount of resources to help students find internships and get jobs,” said junior Tom Berryman. “Unfortunately, a good majority of students don’t capitalize on their opportunity until they graduate.”
Senior Rod Ruiz also found his Toppel experience fulfilling. Ruiz attended Toppel 101 and decided to sign up with a career counselor for more career assistance.
“That helped me out a lot because it was one-on-one time and she was better able to cater to my needs. I told her my ideas regarding where I wanted to live and what I wanted to do and she told me about options I didn’t know I had,” Ruiz said. “I found it so helpful, in fact, that I’ve scheduled another appointment to take advantage of other Toppel services.”
Toppel not only handles undergraduate student affairs, but also caters services specifically to alumni, whether looking for further career direction or for a complete change.
“Sometimes people find out the world of work isn’t what they expected it to be and they come back,” Smart said.
Toppel caters to international students as well, helping them to find success in America.
Student Advisory Board member Shakira Henderson said, “They serve for the entire student body, and that’s something that’s unique to them. Most different places at UM don’t really cater to international students as much as Toppel does.”
Overall, director James Smart advises students to begin their career search as early as possible. Toppel staff attempt to guide them in a direction which will best serve their individual agendas and take advantage of their unique skills.
“Sooner or later, you’ll have to go to work and you’ll have to know these things,” Smart said. “There is no substitute for time.”
Toppel Career Center is adjacent to the Whitten University Center and can be accessed at
Students can also call 305-284-5451 for more information or to schedule appointments with career advisors.