Less Than Stellar Career Center on Campus? Be Proactive
This guest blog was written by one of our IQ Men, Marc Phillips, a junior Integrated Marketing Communications major and Journalism minor at Ithaca College.
Remember college hunting years ago? I bet you don’t miss schlepping across college campuses nearly every weekend (sometimes twice a weekend) to hear about each school’s programs. As a tour guide, I try to differentiate my school and also actively listen to prospective families. Frequently, I field questions about internships, transferring AP/IB credits, and general curriculum. However, one question that is rarely asked is, “How is your school’s career services office?”
Each school claims they have the “best” alumni connections, but in reality, employers want professional candidates with advanced skillsets. In most cases, just being from the same school as a successful graduate does NOT guarantee internship and job placement (nor should it).
With good intentions, many bright-eyed undergrads schedule appointments with his or her school’s career services office. After all, we’re all going to college to become successful later in life, right? However, it seems that career services offices can be polarizing experiences.
For Brandon Faske, a sophomore at Tulane University, career services was nothing short of unhelpful to him, and ultimately, disappointing.
“[Career services] doesn't connect you with job opportunities, rather they direct you to databases so you can do it yourself. That process is long, tedious and often times discouraging,” said Faske of Tulane’s career center.
At a whopping $57,000 a year tuition, Faske expected more from Tulane’s career services office. After seeking advice from his friends, Faske went to Tulane’s Freeman School of Business for personalized resume and cover letter preparation.
The business school’s career center has “stronger reviews,” but many of his friends, “look to outside connections in order to find themselves jobs,” according to Faske.
Fortunately for Faske, he can trust his older friends and experienced professors for help in his internship search. However, these should not be the only helpful resources available to him.
Alternatively, Larry Shulman, a senior at Lehigh University, found success with the help of his school’s career center. Upon recognizing the importance of working towards a career, Shulman scheduled his first appointment as a freshman. He worked with an employee who became his go-to person for career advice over the subsequent years. This was in conjunction with searching the school’s employment database.
Although Shulman agrees that Lehigh’s career center was the not the sole reason he became an intern at “Big Four” accounting firm, KPMG, he does appreciate the much-needed guidance. In fact, Shulman frequently hears other accounting and engineering students having positive experiences with the employees at career services.
So what does this mean to you?
• Don’t be discouraged by your school’s career center if you do not think it is helpful.
• Start talking with upperclassmen, professors, or friends’ older siblings for advice and strategies.
• Do not wait until junior year to acquaint yourself with career services, because opportunities are always abound, even if the program or employees lack resources.
• Be on the lookout for professional student organizations who hold career workshops. Guest speakers at these events will often answer your career-related questions, offer advice, and may even offer you their contact information for future mentorship.