Thursday, 19 April 2012

Your Career Center And You

I whine a lot about how my undergraduate degree really didn’t do much to prepare me for the job market. I also accept full responsibility for not taking advantage of all of the resources I had at the time.

These included;
  • ·         Networking Opportunities
  • ·         Internships
  • ·         Career Services

When I mention Career Services, I actually did make an appointment with a Career Services Counsellor in my third year. I wasn’t really sure what kinds of services they offered prior to my visit. She looked over my resume, made a couple formatting suggestions, and gave me some pamphlets. She was six different kinds of useless.  (At least the Health Clinic gave me a test to see which pamphlets I needed.) After this meeting, I still had no idea what Career Services could actually offer me.

I’ve heard some Career Centers complain that they try to do things for students, but no one shows up. They also complain that students don’t bother with the center until their last year, when they are looking for a job. I’ve heard them attribute it to laziness and apathy.

News Flash! If your entire University campus is full of lazy, apathetic students, your selection criteria SUCKS! You might as well stop offering Career Services, and just start handing out McDonald’s applications. Stop complaining about how no one comes to visit you, and start fixing the problem.

Educate the students on why they need Career Services

Someone starting a four year degree program may not be thinking 5 years into the future. Someone starting a four year Liberal Arts degree is definitely not thinking 5 years into the future. Most 18 year olds don’t think they need to start looking at employment opportunities for when they’re 22. That’s forever away! This thinking is obviously wrong. However, someone needs to change it.

Side Note: Law Students start applying for internships in their first year. This could be due to the fact that they already know what their goal is and how to achieve it. It could also be because they’re expected to do it. Did someone say cultural?

Spread Awareness

Until career awareness can be sexually transmitted, it’s not going to spread itself around campus for you. Students need to know what you offer, and why you’re offering it. You need to convince them you know something they don’t. Have you met an 18 year old? It’s not easy. You’re going to need a full out marketing campaign. Here are some insights from a former student.

1. Anything YOU say during frosh week will be ignored.
2. Posters will be ignored.
3. Anything you say during mid-terms or exams will be ignored.
4. Your mass emails will be deleted, right after they’re ignored.

There are two ways to get students to pay attention to you. The first is to work with the University itself to promote career development across all programs. This is pretty much just a pipe dream, as most Universities are not concerned with employment rates as much as they are with the research of their staff. If you wanted to work in an environment where this was possible, you should have chosen a Career Center at a Community College.

The second is to treat every interaction with a student as a marketing opportunity. When someone comes into your office DO NOT give them a pamphlet. Do you know who gives pamphlets to teenagers? Every adult they come into contact with on campus. You CAN help them with their resume, but that can’t be all you do. Then you’re just a glorified proof-reader. Students need to know things like what the hell they’re supposed to do with an English degree, where to find these jobs and strategies to set them apart from other applicants. At 18 and 19, they won’t think to ask you these questions. The few students that you DO get in your office for appointments need to get the Cadillac of Career Services. If a student walks out of your office with a little more direction and confidence, word will spread. If not, someone will bad-mouth you on a blog like this one where tens of people will see it, and you won’t be any further ahead.

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