Most college campuses boast a career center: some facility with a trained group of professionals who help students find jobs and internships both while they’re at school and after graduation. Every college student should find theirs at some point, between all the frat parties and mental breakdowns, of course.
So how does one go about using the career center? What is it there for? Can I just walk in aimlessly? It’s just for seniors, right? Wait… it’s not? I sat down with Rachel Greenberg, associate director of the BC Career Center, to pick her brain about how we as college students can take full advantage of the resources our school puts at our disposal.
One key point Greenberg made clear from the beginning is that, career-wise, people enter college at different stages. And while many of us want exact timelines of when we should be getting internships, figuring out our majors and even finding a career we’re passionate about, there simply isn’t one template that can apply to every college student everywhere. “It’s not a linear process,” said Greenberg. Each student embarks upon his career path at a different rate and there’s nothing wrong with that.
What about students who feel lost or uncertain about the career path they want to take? “So many students feel that way. That’s totally normal and I think it’s a good thing because that lack of certainty, as uncomfortable as it might be, forces you to really explore and think about your options and that’s really exciting. And if you go through that process, you’re going to come out on the other side pretty well-educated about the decision you’ve made,” said Greenberg. Career centers are full of people who are totally equipped to help you figure all that out. BC’s career center even has a ton of assessment tools to help dazed and confused students who don’t know what they want to do with their lives (*cough, cough* me) decide just that.
Greenberg also talked about the value of a liberal arts education. This might shock some readers, but hopefully it eases the minds of those of you who believe your major will determine your career, how many children you’ll have, your future cat’s name and even what brand of denture paste you’ll use in your golden years. “A student can do almost anything with any major. There is no direct correlation in most cases between major and career. We tell students to choose a major they love and choose a career they love. And whether those two things are related or not, they are absolutely going to have gained skills from their academic experience that translate into a career, even if they don’t necessarily see that the content is 100 percent related,” said Greenberg.
Boom. Knowledge dropped. You’re welcome. Your major doesn’t set you down an inescapable life path with one clear end.
My final revelation is simple, but extremely important. I learned that your career center can even help you speak with your parents about studying what you want, instead of what your parents want. “We equip students with data and resources and guide them through what that conversation might look like,” said Greenberg.
The career center is not just a place for practical career advice or interview prep. Rather, it is staffed with individuals who genuinely want what’s best for students. They are with us on our journey to employment, no matter how rocky that path may be. So here’s something no one thinks about too often, especially us self-absorbed college kids: They want to help you at the career center. They want to help you become everything you want to become, so don’t be afraid to go in there and take advantage of these extraordinary people.
“We want students to see that this is their life and these are their decisions and they’re going to be the ones who have to live with them. We want them to be happy and feel fulfilled,” said Greenberg. And though I make no claims about the sincerity of every college career center employee across the country, most of the people that staff career centers must have a real passion for what they do and genuinely care about helping students find their paths; they certainly don’t do it for the glory. What they do for us college students is undoubtedly admirable and surely under-appreciated. So thank you, college career center counselors and staffers. You keep us sane; you keep us grounded. We’d be lost without you.