Why You Should Visit Your College’s Career Center
College career centers offer more than just job listings – some provide a wide range of services and resources to help students find and succeed in their careers. Here are some reasons you should visit your college’s career center early and often during college – and long before your senior year.
Wondering what to put on a resume or how to find internships in your major? Want to speak with a professional career counselor or feel more confident interviewing? These are all good reasons to visit your college’s career center. However, a recent survey from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) revealed that only 20 to 25 percent of college students tapped their career centers for help finding internships, networking, or preparing for job interviews.
That’s unfortunate because most students attend college with the goal of getting a job after they graduate. Plus, many colleges have invested substantially in career development and job placement resources to help students transition from college to life after college, whether that involves joining the work force or attending graduate school.
Here are some of the reasons to take advantage of your college’s career center.
1. MORE paid internships and job OFFERS
Research suggests that students who engage with their college career center have a leg up when it comes to getting internships and job offers. According to another NACE survey, graduating seniors who used career center services received more job offers than students who did not (1.24 offers on average for career-center users compared with one offer for non-career-center users). The survey also showed that students who used career center services to find an internship were 2.2 times more likely to get a paid internship than students who did not utilize the career center.
2. Free career counseling from experts
Many of the people who work in college career centers are professionally trained counselors and advisors with expertise in helping students identify and achieve their career goals. It’s their job to regularly reach out to employers to understand the skills and experiences they are looking for, manage on-campus recruitment events, and stay up to date with the current job market and workforce trends. Even if you feel completely sure about your major and career direction, a career counselor can help you plan a successful career path. As a student, it’s likely you will have access to these professionals free of charge through your college’s career center.
3. Personal career exploration
Career centers no longer just help students find jobs after they graduate – many have also embraced a mission to help students discover their unique skills and interests and find fulfilling work. If you’re struggling to find a major or having second thoughts about your current major, it might be time to visit the career center.
Many centers offer students opportunities to work one-on-one with professionally trained career coaches, take tests to identify their skills and interests, and find career-related projects and academic experiences to aid their career search. Many career centers also help students explore graduate and professional school and navigate the admissions process.
4. Networking help
Some students understand the importance of networking but aren’t sure how to go about it. College career centers often hold networking events, such as career fairs, workshops, and panels, to help students get comfortable with putting themselves out there. Brandeis University’s Hiatt Career Center, for example, has a virtual mentorship network that helps students gain confidence in their networking skills and connect with alumni mentors.
At some colleges, the career center organizes trips to help students make professional connections. The University of Wisconsin’s career center has organized trips to New York to meet alumni working on Wall Street. Your career center may also help you create a professional LinkedIn profile and practice informational interviewing.
5. Interview and resume prep
You’re likely to find plenty of resources on interviewing and resume writing at your college’s career center — everything from blog posts and downloadable guides to intensive resume critiques. Some colleges, such as Clemson University, invite students to schedule mock interviews with a counselor in the career services department. Other centers may connect you with an online app, such as Big Interview, which lets you record and practice online interviews.
If you aren’t sure what to wear to an interview, some career centers help out with that, too. For example, Boston University has a professional clothing closet from which students can borrow professional attire free of charge. Miami University has a fully functioning photo booth for students to take professional quality head shots for their social profiles and resumes.
6. Support after graduation
Some career centers also help students transition from life as a college student to life after college. For example, the University of Florida’s Career Connections Center offers “adulting” workshops to graduating seniors. Other colleges hold workshops that help students understand employer benefits packages and rental lease agreements.
One of the biggest benefits your college’s career center may offer is the ability to utilize career center services long after you graduate. For example, at Syracuse University, alumni can access career center services throughout their lifetime, including personalized career counseling, resume review and interview practice.
How to Make the Most of Your Career Center
- Visit the career center’s website and familiarize yourself with its services.
- Make an appointment to see a career counselor -- even as early as freshman year.
- Stay up to date with upcoming events. Join the center’s social media channels and subscribe to email notifications to stay in the loop. Try to attend at least one event during each school year.
- Take advantage of the “most impactful” services. According to the NACE study mentioned previously, students found their college career centers to be most useful in helping them search for internships, prepare for job interviews, and learn how to network.
Visit Your Career Center Early and Often
Don’t wait until senior year to explore your college’s career center. It’s likely that your college offers a wide range of career resources that may not only help you find your first full-time job, but also help you develop the skills and mindset that can lead to success in whatever you choose to pursue after college.