Last week, we covered the value of Career Services from the perspective of corporate recruiters and career center staff. To recap, the response to the question of “Why would you use Career Services as a student?” was unanimously this: Why not?? Why wouldn’t you want to take full advantage of the FREE resources and services your campus career center offers?
Another topic of agreement was that students should take full advantage EARLY in their college years. Just because you’re a freshman doesn’t mean there’s not value to be found. It’s never too early to research prospective future employers, get your résumé started, and begin preparing for the interview. Those that do utilize their career centers have been statistically proven to be more likely to find a job right out of college (Research from National Association of Colleges & Employers. Click here for the full report.) So, the main question I posed to current students and recent graduates was:
“Why do (or don’t) you use your career center?”
Here are some of the answers I received:
As a recent graduate, I went to a few on-campus lectures on résumé writing and interviewing. They were a good resource to have.
Career Services office has direct personal connections with employers. They can make introductions and provide services like mock interviews. My job was a direct result of working with my career center!
Career Services professionals are most knowledgeable in business and can help job seekers navigate across functions and through the different industries.
Career Services seems to be unapproachable and doesn’t relate to current students (out of date materials, no engagement with social media, etc.)
I had no idea of the great things my school’s career center offered until I was told about it by a classmate.
To be honest, I had no idea what my career center offered until I graduated.
My career center is very intimidating and has an unwelcoming atmosphere for students who don’t know what they want to do when they graduate. (Isn’t this the whole reason why career centers exist? They should be helping students prepare for the business world and land that great first job out of college!)
Just like the last post focusing on career services professionals and corporate recruiters, I see two common themes when speaking to students and alumni:
- Students simply don’t know what their career centers offer and the value it can provide in their job search and overall preparation. If their friends aren’t using it, why would they?
- Career centers are largely missing their target audience: students. Outdated material, out-of-touch professionals (those that haven’t been out in the “real world”), and lack of engagement in social media platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook keeps Career Services unknown to the general student population.
Let’s face it. This doesn’t apply to ALL career centers. Some are doing it right, communicating effectively with students with relevant material and services that are valued in the eyes of undergraduates. If this is your career center (or was when you went to school), please feel free to share that with everyone! Everyone talks about the bad – one or two people talk about the good.
What can Career Services do better? It’s all about communication. Don’t just post announcements on your website and call it good. Stay top of mind with your audience, offering relevant information such as interview preparation (you can make it fun, too!) or something more unique like business etiquette for a lunch meeting. Activate your employers to engage with students year-round, not just during “career fair season”. You could host industry spotlight sessions, interactive networking functions, and mock interviews to help students prepare themselves for the business world. Invest in your most valuable asset – your students!
What can students do better? Step outside of your comfort zone and do this for your personal and professional growth. It may not seem “cool” to go to an etiquette lecture, but how stupid will your friends look when they tuck their napkin into their shirt at a lunch interview? You’ll know better. Plus, you’ll be better connected with employers and have a better sense of business when you graduate so you can hit the ground running (and most likely WITH A JOB)!
What did I miss? It’s all about collaboration for the greater good. Feel free to leave your comments below, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or send me a tweet. I’d love to hear from you. Let’s make this a win-win for everyone!
Now, go get ‘em!