Spring semester is in full swing, and the summer internship hunt is on. Or maybe you’re a senior approaching graduation way faster than you’d like and you’re starting to panic about finding a job. No matter what step you’re on in terms of your career, you should make a trip to your school’s career center this semester. We know it can be rough to face the reality of job- or internship-hunting, but professionals at your career center can help you out in more ways than you realized. We’ve come up with a few reasons collegiettes should make a visit to their college’s career center ASAP.
1. You Can Perfect Your Resume
This one is basic but oh-so-important. Often, your resume is the first thing an employer will see when you apply for a job, so it needs to get across all the most important information about you and your experience in the most concise, easy-to-read manner possible. If an employer has hundreds of resumes to go through, yours may not get more than a two-second glance, so it’s important to catch his or her eye. Who better to help you do this than trained career professionals?
Irene, a senior at Boston University, visited two different career centers: her school’s general career center and one specific to her major. “First, I talked about my resume with someone who specialized in communication, which helped me decide how to best phrase my accomplishments in past internships,” Irene says. She then took her adjusted resume to the general career center, where the advisers provided her with guidance on formatting it professionally.
If your school only has one career center, make an appointment with one associate, and then ask if he or she can recommend anyone who specializes in your specific career field. Some career center associates work more with certain industries than others, and they know their way around those specific job markets. Getting two perspectives will help you achieve the best results!
Your resume carries a lot of weight when you apply for jobs. It has to convince an employer that they should call you in for an interview and hire you, so one poorly-worded phrase can make a huge difference. Even just having a professional proofread it for typos could make the difference between you getting hired and not.
Once your resume is perfected, ask a career center associate if the center has professional resume paper you can print it on. Resume paper can be expensive, and while it’s not mandatory, it can make your resume stand out. If your resume is the one thick, sturdy sheet of paper in a pile of hundreds of flimsy ones, it’s more likely to get noticed by an employer. Many career centers allow students to print on resume paper for free; see if your school’s career center is one of them!
2. You Can Find an Internship
Whether you have no clue what you want to do with your life or you already have your dream job planned out, your career center is a great resource for locating a job or internship. Make an appointment with a career counselor to discuss what you might be interested in doing or to figure out which internships or jobs you should apply for.
Katherine, a junior at the University of Rochester, went to her career center for help finding an internship. “The counselor was also able to give me the contact information of an [alum] who had done an internship I was considering, so I could email her for advice on the application,” she says.
Your career center has worked with a ton of students in the past; the career centers employees often know people you can talk to who have gone through exactly what you’re doing and are willing to help.
According to Rachel Tannenbaum, associate director of student programming at Barnard College Career Development, many students don’t realize the kind of resources their school provides for them. She says most schools even have their own job or internship posting sites for their students. “Many students delay logging on because they either do not know about it or how to use it,” Tannenbaum says. Your career center can show you awesome websites like these, so head in and see what you’ve been missing!
3. You Can Find a Mentor
Your career center can give you access to a whole new network. Every school has alumni who have gone on to achieve great things. “A college’s alumni network is a rich but often underutilized resource for students,” says Tannenbaum. “Counselors at your career office can facilitate the meeting, mingling and learning between yourself and an alumnae of interest.”
Ask a career development associate if he or she can put you in touch with an alum in your field. The alum may be able to help you land a job or internship, or at least tell you how he or she made it in the industry and provide some advice. Your career center wants to help you connect with alumni, and often has structured programs to facilitate these connections.
Alumni are a great resource because they’ve been in your exact position and have worked their way up from it. They know what you’re going through and are usually happy to help students of their alma mater. Make an appointment at your career center to see how they can help you build these alumni connections, and check out our article about networking with alumni!
4. You Can Practice Your Interview Skills
We all know interviews can be terrifying. You never know if you’ll connect with the interviewer, or if they’ll stick to traditional interview questions or go for ones that are a little more out there. It can be difficult to prepare for an interview, but your career center can assist you with this.
“Career service professionals will get into character and provide a simulated interview experience,” Tannenbaum says. “Also, many offices will even tape the interview so you can see with your own eyes how you’ve performed.”
It may seem scary or embarrassing, but your career counselors are there to help you; they know what kinds of questions you may be asked and can help you work out the best possible responses.
5. You Could Get a Grant
Having an unpaid internship can be difficult for a lot of students to manage. That’s why many schools offer internship grants. With an internship grant, you can apply to receive a few hundred or a couple thousand dollars depending on your school and which semester you’re doing your internship.
Visit your career center’s website to see if you can find some preliminary information about what types of grants are available and to which students. Make an appointment at your career center to discuss the application process and requirements; these processes can be tricky to navigate, so it can be extremely helpful to discuss them in person.
Katherine visited her career center to learn more about internship grant opportunities. “[I] found out my school has a program that gives students grants for internships on a first-come, first-serve basis,” she says. “This isn’t a program they really advertise on the website, but the career counselor was eager to give me information about it.”
Even if you’ve never heard about one, visit your career center to see if they offer a grant program like this. Being an unpaid intern can be hard on your budget, so a grant can make a world of difference!
6. You Can Master LinkedIn
Plenty of students are intimidated by the concept of LinkedIn. While we collegiettes love to Instagram and tweet all day long, the idea of a professional social network can be a little daunting. However, LinkedIn is the perfect way to make connections in your field. Get a head start and make an account now if you don’t already have one!
The key to LinkedIn is understanding how it differs from other social media sites. Career counselors know how you can use it to your advantage. “Not only can career service professionals show you how to use [Linkedin], but also how to brand yourself with a strong online profile,” Tannenbaum says. Make an appointment with a career counselor to find out the best way to take advantage of this awesome networking tool.
7. You Can Figure Out Your Future
If you have no idea what you want to do with your life, you’re not the only one. Plenty of collegiettes struggle to figure it all out. What do you want to do after graduation? What do you have to do to meet your professional goals? You may have a lot of questions about how to pick out the right path.
Fortunately for you, career counselors are trained to help you make all these decisions. “Whether it’s through an in-depth counseling session or via a career assessment such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, you will leave your career services office with a greater sense of how your values, skills and personality align with potential career paths,” Tannenbaum says.
The career center is there to help guide you down your professional path. If you’re having a hard time figuring out what kind of job you want, what you should major in or anything else career-related, a career counselor can walk you through your difficulties and help you make the decisions that will benefit you most.
So, collegiettes, if you thought you didn’t need to visit your career center, think again! Your school’s career development office is full of people whose job is to help you get a job. Check out your school’s website for information on how to contact professionals at your career center, or drop by the office and schedule an appointment with a counselor. Making a visit this semester will give your career the boost it needs!