College career centers get a ton of flak from students across the United States, and often for good reasons. Understaffed, underfunded, and behind the times, these organizations often fail to serve the best interests of their students. They fail to evolve with new technology and new methods of job seeking, instead using outdated websites, tools, and advice. And as a result, students have found them less useful than they ought to be.
But when used effectively, college career centers can be useful to a student’s first job search. If you’re a student in the midst of finding your next internship or first job, make sure you know about the useful services provided by your career center.
Here are the three best tools your career center provides that you can take advantage of today.
College career centers make it a major priority to put on regular career fairs for their students and local employers. From grand-scale undergraduate and graduate career fairs to niche, industry specific hiring events, you’ll be able to find at least one or two relevant events for your career each semester.
Career fairs are useful for a few reasons. First, they allow you to expose your resume to several companies who already know the value of hiring graduates from your university. This is important because it establishes an initial value to your potential as an employee. Employers who have hired from your school in the past understand that you can bring similar strong results they’ve already experienced for their team.
Second, they allow you to have face-to-face conversations with recruiters and hiring managers. A major complaint of job seekers is that the online job search is too impersonal. A career fair allows you to bypass the online application step and directly introduce yourself to hiring managers or recruiters. There, you can make that first impression that you wish you could portray in an online application.
Finally, they allow you to understand more about your own career goals. From finding out about interesting companies with interesting projects to learning about the various job openings available for your major, career fairs can give you valuable information that will propel your job search in new directions.
Even if you don’t find a job at a career fair, you will have learned how to better introduce yourself to employers, how to make your skillset attractive and relevant to recruiters, and, potentially, what your ideal role and company type is. As a result, you’ll be able to lead a smart, targeted job hunt.
Mock interviews are an important tool for job seekers who feel less than confident in their interviewing skills. They allow you to practice your answers to various common interview questions. They also go a long way towards simulating the stress of a real interview, allowing you to understand how you respond under pressure and adjust your interviewing style accordingly.
Career center counselors and staff are there to offer you mock interview practice and are only an appointment or walk-in request away. They’re trained to ask you all the important common questions, give you feedback on your interviewing style, and help you learn from your mistakes while highlighting your successes.
A second set of eyes
A lonely job search is often a mistake-riddled job search. When you don’t have anyone to double check and hold you accountable on your resumes, cover letters, and application documents, you may find yourself cutting corners, copy-pasting, and making silly mistakes like addressing an email to the wrong person or company.
A career center’s staff is there to help you stay accountable. They can offer a second set of eyes to look over all your application documents. From various resume versions to different cover letter approaches, you can go to a career counselor to get the advice you need to stay on top of your application game.
Not only will this help you in your current job search, but it will also form a habit of leading a collaborative job search. As a result, when you start searching for a second job, you’ll be acclimated to working together with another person on your hunt. And a job search buddy can have a positive impact toward your next career move.
While the job boards, websites, and online tools your career center offers may fall short of being useful and modern, the in-person services they offer go a long way towards making them an important part of your job search.
Regardless of the bad rap that career centers get, they do provide a much-needed service for students. Don’t hesitate to take advantage of the best services your career center provides, even if it’s mostly lackluster. You will come off as a more ready job seeker by preparing properly.