3 Ways to “Win” with Your School’s Career Center

By Erin Coursey, iHire, LLC
           

Whether you need help choosing a major or deciding what to do after graduation, a college career center is the place to start! Get the most out of yours with these three tips.

Start early

Career centers have so much more to offer than end-of-school job hunt assistance. Regardless of where you are in your college or university experience, now is the time to dive in. These groups can help you identify vocations that match your personality and strengths, find internships that develop important skills, and apply for on-campus jobs to build your professional history.

Action plan: Check your institution’s website for some preliminary material—does it have individual career centers for different fields of study (e.g. sciences, humanities, and business)? Who works in the center, and what are their areas of expertise? Use this information to find and develop a relationship with an advisor who will stick with you throughout your career-planning endeavors. A good goal is to meet with this mentor about three times each year to talk about your plans, upcoming opportunities, and networking options (career counselors have great connections!).

Learn about tools

The key to maximizing return on your investment—and make no mistake, the tuition dollars that fund career centers are an investment—is to know your options. Every college provides different materials and services, so you need to investigate the specific tools available to you. Some common resources you encounter include:

Action plan: There is no substitute for simply walking in and meeting with someone. Mention your goals for the future—including graduation date, intended career path, and whether you want to pursue an advanced degree—and ask what resources are available to support you.

Get updated

Stay current on all career events, job fairs, and other new resources. If you are aware of fresh opportunities as they crop up, you will be able to pick and choose those that best fit your needs. Otherwise, you may find yourself scrambling to attend the last employer meet-and-greet session of the year—even if your field of study isn’t represented!

Action plan: Create a system that will alert you to recent developments. This may involve creating an RSS feed for the career center’s webpage, adding their calendar to your smartphone, or registering for weekly update emails. If you want to go one step further, you might even join the committee who recommends/plans the organization’s events.

           

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