The VPM Blog

Career Services: An Unknown And Unused Resource

Posted by Gray on Apr 24, 2013 4:19:39 AM

Forbes posted an article on their website yesterday entitled, “5 Mistakes College Job Seekers Make.” As a graduating senior, a.k.a., a college job seeker adept at making mistakes, I thought I should read this one (just to see how it compared to a similar one we did).

I was extremely relieved to find, “majoring in English literature” was not one of the 5 mistakes on Forbes’ list. As my peers and I get closer to graduation, it can be difficult to convince ourselves otherwise. Sure, there are some who aren't yet tired of researching and writing papers and have decided to go straight to grad school. But what should the rest of us do? Are we too cool for school, yet not cool enough for the professional world?

The English Club at my school recently teamed up with Career Services to host an event for those of us about to enter the real world - or as I like to call it, my parents’ couch.

I give the event a mixed review. On the one hand, it’s nice that the English department cares about our postgraduate future: they told us who hires, skills employers value, and salaries; how to search for jobs; how to fine-tune your resumé (which I found out is this piece of paper you give to an employer that tells them how cool you are). If this sounds like bullet points off a flyer, it’s because that’s exactly what it is. They were very effective in convincing me I could use my degree to become a writer for a MTV television series.

On the other hand, WHY DID YOU PEOPLE WAIT UNTIL THREE WEEKS BEFORE GRADUATION TO TELL US ALL THIS STUFF?

Now, don’t worry too much about me. I’ve been fortunate enough to have interned with some great people who helped me gain valuable experience and made me get an account on LinkedIn. I’ve also been offered a promotion from sales associate to assistant manager at the Gap so yeah, my future is looking pretty bright. But what about my fellow comrades who don’t have superb writing and shirt-folding skills?

The Director of Career Services stressed the importance of internships as a great way to gain practical skills but also to potentially find a job after graduating. Again, it’s a little late for that.

One of my classmates was quick to point this out.

She said, “But how can I support myself working at an unpaid internship after I graduate?” “Well, ideally, you would do an internship while you are a student.” Anyone know where I can find a reliable time machine? Asking for a friend.

I realize the whole internship thing during school might be common sense for some of us; or as we say, “well the student should take the initiative to find those professional opportunities."

You’d be right in thinking that. But the truth is, in my English classrooms, there is hardly ever any mention of what’s going on outside those cinder block walls and what we can do to prepare for it.

Until we’re three weeks away from it.

I realize that most major universities have outstanding career centers that are available to help students year round - not just on the eve of graduation. But the director of Career Services at my school pointed out a major problem when she asked us to raise our hands if we, a) had ever visited their office before or, b) even knew where their office was. One person out of about 20 raised his hand to both questions.

If any relationship is going to thrive, there has to be good communication between both parties. Career Centers can do a better job of interacting with students and vice versa. Students need to know their school’s career center does more than put on job fairs. There needs to be an ongoing discussion between students and career centers throughout the semester.

Engage with students on social media.

One reason no one has stopped by my school’s career center is because we students like to think we our busy and our time is precious. We don’t have time to go traipsing across campus in search of your office.

How about build a following on Twitter and Facebook, where you can point students to your numerous resources; show them the benefits of using those resources. Yes, you already have a great website, but how many students know that exists? A website can be just as difficult to find as an actual building.

Students discover everything through social media - even higher ed content. Use inbound marketing strategies to connect with students of all majors - not just English or Liberal Arts.

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