Panicking about post-grad life and not sure where to turn? Colleges offer so many resources that it’s easy to lose a few along the way. The career center is perhaps one of the most valuable of the many outlets students can seek for guidance. Career centers on campuses all over strive to guide students in the right direction for post-grad life. Spending some time with a career advisor can make the difference between a mediocre resume and a fabulous one that will make you stand out.
Read on for 10 steps that help students find success in the career center.
1. Get Started ASAP
The sooner you make your first visit to the career center, the better. “It is never too soon to start a conversation about your career hopes and dreams, and the first year of college is a perfect time to begin that conversation,” said Director of Career Services at Washington University in St. Louis Aimee Wittman. Services provided at the career center can help you realize sooner (rather than later) if you like the path you chose or if want to make a change to your major like yesterday.
2. Get to Know Your Advisor
Getting to know your advisor opens so many doors. At your university, you’ll probably find a career advisor designated to your field of study. If you’re unsure of your major, speaking to advisors in different schools can help. “I thoroughly enjoy meeting new students, discussing their interests and watching them grow in confidence as they identify internships, get involved with student groups and eventually define their career goals,” said American University Career Advisor Felicia Parks. Advisors will help you make great connections. But you can only uncover them once you ask questions.
3. Let Your Advisor Get to Know You
Don’t feel afraid to tell your advisor your wildest career aspirations. Want to become a veterinarian and a teacher? Tell them. Advisors can guide you in the right direction. Building a good relationship with your advisor can help you in so many ways. They can help you practice for an interview and work with you to perfect your resume, cover letter and Linked-In profile. “I am so grateful to get to know my students by name and story, and to help them translate their unique skills, strengths and gifts into the world as they explore and discover different career paths and possibilities,” said Wittman.
4. Talk to a Peer Advisor
A lot of schools not only offer advising from professionals, but also peer advising. Getting perspective from someone close to your age who recently went on the job hunt can be extremely helpful. At American University, peer advisors hold workshops for students on different topics such as resume and cover letter writing, Linked-In profile development and interviewing. AU peer advisor Lauren Goldstein said it’s exciting for her to see that she’s actually played a role in a student’s career development. “It’s really great when people seem really excited about their resume and leave less stressed and overwhelmed about applying for a job,” said Goldstein. Peer advisors give students a much more relatable perspective on searching for a career.
5. Open Your Ears
Advisors do what they do for a reason. During their time they’ve probably worked with many students before you. Chances are, those students found success. Ask about former students with similar interests to yours and see where those students ended up working—you’ll be amazed at the size of the career center network. Both career advisors and peer advisors can help you increase your confidence and expand your network.
6. Visit the Career Center website every once in a while
Your school’s career center probably hosts tons of new events and opportunities. Keep a close watch on the center’s website to see what’s coming soon. So many opportunities can get lost through email, so checking the website will ensure you a way to find out about current events. At American University, the career center holds events geared towards specific student needs. “Coming up we have a multicultural career connection event and an LGBTQ in the workplace seminar,” said Goldstein. Career Centers always look for cutting-edge news in the work force to pass on to you.
7. Take Advantage of All Opportunities
The more you take advantage of while you’re a student, the more success you will have as a graduate. AU junior Channing Gatewood went on a networking trip to New York City hosted by the career center. “The career advisors on the trip were extremely helpful in answering questions about how to network, how to follow up and how to be a young professional,” said Gatewood. Career centers offer so many opportunities to students developing in the professional world. “The professionals in career services are dedicated to providing comprehensive assistance to students as they make career decisions and launch their careers,” said St. John’s career advisor Michelle Kyriakides. Opportunities allow students to connect with alumni for advice about your industry of interest, shadow professionals in your field and interview on campus for competitive internships and employment opportunities.
8. Never Stop Networking
Always be on the lookout for networking opportunities provided by the career center. You can never have too many connections. Don’t limit yourself to connecting with people in your exact field either. Talking with people in other areas can broaden your scope and maybe turn you towards a career you never thought of before. Career advisors usually go to campus networking receptions, too, offering a familiar face in a sea of nervousness. If you get overwhelmed while networking, pull your advisor aside to chat and calm your nerves.
9. Get Involved on Campus
Stand out to potential employers by joining an organization relevant to your field of study. When crafting your resume and cover letter, you’ll add fresh information to impress people in the real world. Even better, holding a leadership position expresses dedication to what you’re doing. Joining an organization can also get you started on a portfolio you can upload to your Linked-In profile or attach to your resume. For example, if you’re a journalism major, joining the campus newspaper makes a great way to get a portfolio together. If unsure of which club or organization to apply for, peer advisors can help you pick the right one.
10. Have Confidence in Yourself
You can breathe now. You know your advisors; you’ve listened and networked with them. Plus, you joined a relevant campus organization. Consider yourself set for success. All that’s left to do in order to feel successful is to believe that you are successful. The first step? Showing up to an interview confident in your skills. Then wait for the job offer to your dream job. Your journey to success starts in the career center, but always ends with you.
Prepping for the Real World at the Career Center
Written by Lauren Townsend, junior, journalism> Elon University
They may not hold your hand, but they’ll teach you how to handshake. Not only do college career centers offer great services to help students find internships and post-graduation jobs, they also help with each progressive step into the real world.
Career centers are getting creative. Take Texas Christian University, which has developed an iPhone application to be released at the end of September. The app, called iTCU, will include six sections to help students: interviewing, dining etiquette, business etiquette, upcoming events, videos and Career Services.
“There are universities that have iPhone apps like iTCU, but to my knowledge there isn’t a university that currently has an app specifically focused on career topics,” said Susan Nethery, associate director of marketing for the TCU career center.
With this application, students will be able to receive help on their own time without having to make appointments and come into the office, she says.
While TCU boasts a tech-savvy career center, Central Pennsylvania College’s career center niche lies in location and intention, as its career center is conveniently inside the admissions office.
In an effort to help students develop career maturity and enhance competitiveness when applying for jobs and internships, all Central Penn students are required to complete a job pursuit seminar course, said Steve Hassinger, Central Penn’s career services director and teacher.
“In an economy that is as tough as it is, students need to utilize career services often for help on jobs and internships,” said Gary Beaulieu, director of internship and career services at Butler University.
Career services at Butler has remodeled its career fairs and turned them into “networking fairs” where students and employers are split into groups for the purpose of acquiring networking skills.
This could include handshakes, introductions, or how to carry on ‘small talk’ with an employer. This session is followed by a more typical, open networking session where students visit employers at their tables and hand out resumes.
Butler also has a program that they call Brain Gain, which is a program where students live in subsidized housing in Indianapolis over the summer to complete an internship. The eight-week program offers a weekly special event such as a tour of the Indianapolis Zoo so that students can become better acquainted with the city, said Beaulieu.
So, while it may not change your life, walking into your career center may offer some surprises worth your time. Check it out.
4 Hot Tips for Getting the Job
1. Network: A lot of times, it’s not what you know, but who you know. It’s a great idea to attend career fairs at your university with of your resume to get know your future employers
2. Keep in touch with internship employers: Even though your internship is over, it is essential to keep in touch with people at the company. Who knows? If you really wowed them, they might offer you a full-time job after graduation.
3. Have your own website: It could be a blog-hosted site, like WordPress or Blogger, with work from your portfolio and a resume, or a site that you have designed from scratch. Either way, it’s something special to include in a cover letter that makes you stand out.
4. Promote yourself: Have business cards made so you’re ready anytime that you meet a new person in your industry. Give them a card and make a great first impression.
*Updated March 1, 2017 by Lauren Townsend to include “Preparing For the Real World” and “4 Hot Tips for Getting the Job.”