Staff Spotlight: Derrick Streater
October 23, 2012
By Chris Terry (MFA '12)
Derrick Streater’s job title is training and development manager in Human Resources. While Streater primarily works with faculty and staff, he also tackles work that affects students.
Streater says his program, Supervising Student Employees, emphasizes the value of student workers, urging faculty and staff supervisors to “set up an actual, true work experience for the student. That way, they can get real job skills that they can use.”
To accompany that training, Streater conducts a customer service workshop through which student workers learn things like phone etiquette and dealing with disgruntled customers. “We want them to have a jumpstart on what they’ll face when they get their degree and move into the real world,” he says.
Streater, who graduated from Columbia in 1996 with a degree in graphic design, is impressed by how the school has worked to engage students on campus. "When I was a student, I felt like I was truly on my own," he says. "Now, it's effortless to submerge yourself in the campus community."
Streater sees Multicultural Affairs, which was established in 2006, as playing a big role in making Columbia more student friendly. “I was actively seeking something like Multicultural Affairs as a student,” says Streater. "They do a really good job supporting students from various backgrounds through a multitude of student-centered events like workshops, roundtable discussions, and student-run events like Paint it Black. It's a huge reason to be proud of the college."
Streater is so devoted to Multicultural Affairs that he volunteers in the office’s African-American male student-retention program, The Barbershop. So far, Streater has seen The Barbershop’s informal discussions between students and faculty and staff mentors aid in the development of initiative, direction, and purpose in and out of the classroom.
"We're all passionate about making sure these brothers get encouragement and support, to make sure that they graduate, have short- and long-term plans, and are successful," he says.
Streater’s job interview preparation workshop is one of Multicultural Affairs’ most popular “Tips on Tuesdays” events. His main advice to a student seeking work is "Just really mind your presence and be confident in your ability and adaptability," Streater says. "I don't care if you’re interviewing for a part-time job as a shelf stocker, treat it like it's your dream job. Every opportunity, no matter its scope, is just that—an opportunity. People take notice of the real go-getters out there, and the effort you put into it will definitely be rewarded in the long run."