In the era of LinkedIn, social media networking and digital connections, everything from finding a job to a career mentor happens online. And, as online college courses and degrees become more and more popular and accessible, fewer students are taking advantage of traditional campus career services and resources than in previous generations. According to recent studies and Gallup Poll data, less than 20 percent of college students use campus career services for help with finding a job or applying to graduate programs.
Just like academic, athletic and other collegiate programs, the benefits and opportunities available through a school’s career services office will vary from campus to campus, according to factors like the makeup of the student body and the school’s resources. Researching a prospective school’s career services offerings and track record can be especially helpful for students who graduate with student loan debt and do not have existing networks or relationships to leverage with professionals and mentors in their chosen field.
What a College Career Services Program Has to Offer
From helping you craft a professional and optimized resume to leads on internships and help applying for graduate school, a good college career services program can offer comprehensive support and networking opportunities well beyond what you can do yourself on Facebook or online career sites.
Some of the most common services offered through campus career centers include:
- Cover letter and resume writing tips and workshops
- Interview prep
- Career assessments and counseling
- Career fairs
- Internship opportunities
- Networking through alumni relations and professional partnership programs
- Career/jobs databases
- Graduate school application/advisement
- Skills assessment and advisement for undecided students
How to Make College Career Services Work for You
If you already know what you want to major in and what career field you’d like to pursue after graduation, or are a returning or older student with real life and work experience under your belt, you may already have a leg up and some ideas as to how to pursue your career goals. However, in an increasingly competitive and rapidly evolving job market where many jobs are facing the prospect of automation by the start of the next decade, it is more important than ever to utilize every resource available to guide you through the hiring process before and after graduation.
If you are not sure what you want to do after graduation, or change your mind mid-course like many students do, campus career counseling and advising can help you to navigate your options and provide actionable resources and contacts to help you find the right path for your skills and interests.
Tips to Get Started
Here are some ways to make the most of your college career services.
Don’t wait until senior year. In fact, a school’s career services offerings, reputation and success rates should be part of your initial research when applying for college. Ask questions about their alumni network, internship opportunities, relationships with businesses and corporations in your field of interest, placement rates and support services.
Fake it ’til you make it. You don’t have to have it all figured out to take advantage of skill- and career-building programs. Whatever your current or future goals might be, it is never too early to work on your resume and cover letter writing skills, and to practice successful interviewing by attending career fairs and workshops. In fact, starting the process in your freshman year and staying persistent can help to build your confidence for the real thing come graduation.
Stay ahead of trends. The career services department exists to help students prepare for employment and ongoing education after graduation. As such, it is an invaluable (and free) source of industry data and trends that can help you stay competitive and build your skills and coursework as necessary.
Think of career services as another tool to help you reach your professional, educational and personal goals.