“What do you want to do when you grow up?” This is the age-old question…
College seniors are scrambling to prepare themselves for the job search, and they expect the Career Services department to help. With a few short months before graduation and soon-due college loan payments, many college seniors will head to their university’s Career Services Office for the first time. That is their first mistake.
College officials and Purdue University/Gallup Surveys find that only 40% of college students ever visit Career Services. Of those who do, most wait until their senior year, usually far too late to make a significant positive impact on their job search. The same studies show that students who do utilize Career Services as early as freshman year are much more likely to be satisfied with the benefits and successful in finding a job before graduation.
Who Has Failed—Student or Career Services?
National news media headlines trumpet the “failures” of college career services, but as we read the articles and the reporter’s research more carefully, we find that the responsibility is shared by students as well. Students who begin the process of job preparation early and work deliberately on their own career development are far more successful in their job search. Author and former academician Jeffrey Selingo touts his blunt criticism in a recent Washington Post article. Read the comments in response to his article for opposing views.
4 Factors for Job Search Success
Four most important factors in launching a career include
- finding helpful faculty mentors early in college,
- participating in one or more internships in sophomore year or earlier,
- engaging positively in a work-study job on campus, and
- utilizing a variety of programs offered by the Career Services Office early in college.
The Challenge for Career Services Offices
How to get students to use the services their tuition pays for? Visibility is part of the problem. Many Career Services offices are tucked away far from classrooms and the library. Another problem is the positioning of career development office–the relationship between faculty departments and the career staff is often left up to the willingness of individual team members.
New and Innovative Programs
The Career Development Office at Augustana College in Illinois recently implemented a program called the “Viking Scorecard” to engage and track each student’s progress toward professional preparation for life after college. In each year, freshmen, sophomores, and juniors, are guided to attend suggested activities and build their Viking Score. At the end of each year there is a suggested minimum number of points you should have accumulated.
Students Shoulder the Task of Engaging
No matter the quality and great intentions of university staff and departmental programs, they hold little value until the student engages and participates. Students who take their task of career development seriously from Day 1 of college will be more satisfied with their college’s offerings and will likely be steps ahead of their peers in the job search.
Resources for Parents
The Academic Team of My College Planning Team assists parents as well as their college students in knowing what to expect from college services. The team’s professional experience includes over 35 years of professional experience on college campuses. They know how to navigate the many lesser known programs on college campuses. Contact Stephanie Kennedy of the My College Planning Team.