Skyline College NOVA Works program staff member profile: Richard Saroyan learns to run with the wind


Just as his career was about to take an upward trajectory, Skyline College NOVA Works program Career Counselor Richard Saroyan realized that he needed to quit his job in video gaming.

Before he came to Skyline College, Richard thought that he was on the right career path until his co-worker took him to lunch to tell him that he looked unhappy.

In fact, Richard was unhappy, though he did not fully recognize it.

Richard was proud that he had combined his two passions for sports and video games into a stellar career negotiating video game licenses for ESPN and 2K Sports. He thought that he had found a good fit, yet, Richard was miserable.

One month after the lunch with his co-worker, Richard left his job in video games.

“My trajectory was really moving up, but if I’m not happy and it’s not the right fit, then what’s the point?”
Saroyan said.

He made the decision to reevaluate by seeing a career counselor to learn more about his values, interests, strengths, personality and what is most important to him. What Saroyan discovered was that working “in a helping profession” was important to him, so he switched careers from video games to helping people meet their career goals. He returned to college and earned a Masters degree in Counseling Psychology with an emphasis on Career Development from Santa Clara University.

“There’s a moment when we have an opportunity to change direction, but do we have the strength to do it?” said Mustafa Popal, Skyline College history instructor. Popal has an interest in cultural identities and he said “There is a cultural narrative of what we should achieve and in our heart of hearts, it’s difficult to counter the cultural narrative. It’s painful.”

By identifying his core value as helping people, things have shifted for Saroyan to assisting people in meaningful ways on their career paths.

“Now I get to help people decide for themselves which career path is going to be best for them,” Saroyan said. He knows that preparing for a career can be intimidating for college students. These days Saroyan enjoys helping people to build their resumes, to practice interviewing and helping with job applications.

A big part of the enjoyment for him is seeing people who initially start off not knowing their direction and seeing it develop to where the person has earned a job or an internship.

His whole life has changed along with his career shift and Saroyan feels that all aspects of his life are much easier these days. Now he feels happy with what he is doing.

“It’s the feeling of running against the wind versus the feeling of running with the wind. When the wind is with you, you feel like you are flying,” he said.

After obtaining his Masters in career counseling, Saroyan interned at the San Jose State University (SJSU) Career Center for two years before taking the reins of the WorkAbility program at SJSU for students with disabilities.

“Richard is very passionate about working with clients and he wants to provide the best service to them to meet their goals. It’s not just a job to him,” said NOVA Program Services Coordinator Kathleen Velasquez. “He looks for materials to help clients with disabilities or clients with limited English,” she added.

Saroyan is excited to assist students and community members in the NOVA Works Job Center. He advises Skyline College students to know what is most important to them to have a better chance of finding the career, job or field that will make them the happiest.

“If you are aware of what your values are, then you can fine tune your job search to match those values and that’s really what’s going to give you the most happiness,” listen he said.


The NOVA Job Center in Building 1 provides job search support for both students and community members seeking immediate employment. This federally-funded program is offered at no cost. NOVA assists people with focus, resumes, job search, interview practice and salary negotiation.

Anyone interested in NOVA services are welcome to stop by the office in room 1-221A at the Spark Point Center to learn about the program.


About the NOVA Job Center:

Contact: Kathleen Velasquez

NOVA Program Services Coordinator

Building 1, Rm. 1221-A

[email protected]

Tel.: 650-738-7904

Open weekdays 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.