As you walk around campus, there’s a building you remember hearing about during orientation, but were too overwhelmed to take notice of at the time. Success center, career development, career services; no matter what your university calls it, you have an office full of professionals ready to help you succeed before and after graduation. Joining the real world can be intimidating, but if you utilize the services offered by your university, which are usually included in tuition (You’re paying for them, anyway), you’ll enter the workforce confident in your ability to succeed.
Emily Kennelly, the senior assistant director of career advising and counseling at Florida State University’s career center, said that career services benefits students in every stage of career development. “From freshmen year to senior year we have services that students can tap into that would prepare them for life after graduation,” Kennelly said. So how do you get started?
Before you go in, make sure you know exactly what you want to do. JUST KIDDING. If you’re not sure which career calls your name that shouldn’t stop you from opening the door. Mark Smith, Associate Vice Chancellor for Students at Washington University in St. Louis said career services offices not only help you figure out how to prepare for the career you want, but can also help you find and solidify your confidence in a particular field.
What are you waiting for? Just walk in and get started. Everette Fortner, Associate Vice President of Career and Professional Development at the University of Virginia, said students should focus on choosing a major before choosing a career. “Choose something you’re interested in or good at rather than trying to figure out your career before choosing your major,” Fortner said. If you’re still indecisive, focus on developing skills that employers like to see, like analysis and oral communication.
Taking advantage of the four years ahead of you will help you get a leg up on the job market before graduation. Students should be deciding which career is the best fit during the first two years of college. The summer leading into junior year, relevant internships should take the forefront. “Ideally, get a summer internship that will convert to a full-time offer afterwards. More employers are employing from summer internship pools,” said Fortner. Career centers ease the difficulties of the internship search, and help students land the job by helping with resumes, cover letters, LinkedIn profiles and interviewing skills.
If you’re a senior or recent grad and think it’s too late, think again. “Our career center works with alumni and many other centers do as well,” said Kennelly. Fortner agrees; at UVA, recent grads have access to the career center up to six months after graduation and immediate access to alumni career services after graduation. At Washington University of St. Louis, Smith notes that 10 percent of career advising appointments are with recent grads. There’s no guarantee that every university career center allows its alumni to use its resources, but many do. Chances are, so does yours, and it only takes a quick call or Google search to find out.
To make the most of your career services, Fortner said it would be beneficial to develop a relationship with a particular career advisor. The key to getting jobs is connections. It’s impossible for career advisors to remember the hundreds of students they see, but it’s hard to forget the student that makes consistent appointments. The more a career advisor knows about your situation and career goals, the more they can help you to succeed.
If you’re still not convinced career services are worth your time, the proof is in the pudding. “In our most recent Graduating Senior Survey, 38.1 percent of students indicated they found employment opportunities through the FSU Career Center services,” said Kennelly. So instead of watching the next episode of your favorite show on Netflix, take advantage of the secret weapon hiding in that building you avoid. Click pause, and go get a head start on the successful career that’s waiting for you.