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I’ve attended three colleges in my higher education career: in undergrad I transferred from one school to another, and I went to the third for grad school. You know what that means? It means I’ve been inside my fair share of career services offices. I’ve found that campus career advisors are, by and large, enthusiastic, helpful, and excellent at their job. What’s important to remember, however, is that the career services office is a resource—they’re there to help put your best foot forward on a job hunt, not to actually find you a job. The efficacy of campus career services often comes down to you, and the way in which you use their services. So here are some ways that you can make the most of your campus’ career services.
Persistence is key, in all aspects of a job search. Your first visit to your campus career center should, by no means, be your last. Whether you have something specific you need help with, or just need someone to express your frustration to, that’s okay—the career advisors can help you brainstorm a way forward when you’re stuck. Your career services office is at your disposal, which means you need to be proactive in seeking their help.
Establish a relationship
Career counselors are a little like hairdressers—you’ll probably get better results if you keep going back to the same one. So take a little time and shop around the office’s advisors before selecting one that you’d like to keep in touch with. See if anyone has experience advising on the field you’re interested in, or if there’s someone with a specialty in what you need help with—do they have a “resume doctor” or a “cover letter wizard”? Ask! Whoever you choose, keep making your appointments with that person.
Mix it up
Your career center isn’t just an office you go to—they hold plenty of events, too! There are career fairs, panels, workshops, mock interviews, and some will even have LinkedIn photo sessions (something I wish I’d taken advantage of at one of my schools—my college roommates’ profile pics look so much better than mine). So keep an eye out to see if any of their events are geared towards your chosen field, or in a particularly useful job-search topic. And always, always, always take the time for a mock interview if you’ve got a real interview coming up—there’s no better prep for an interview than a trial run.
Many campuses subscribe you to your career center’s emails automatically, so make sure you open them and read up when they come in. Oftentimes centers will also have LinkedIn pages, Instagram feeds, and other social media presences. Make sure to follow a few of them to keep yourself in the loop. You wouldn’t want to find out about a great event or clinic after the fact—but in case you did miss something, ask the office if they have any of the materials left over.
That’s right—you don’t even need to go into the office, necessarily. Most campuses have access to job search resources, services, and apps, all of which you can log into with your school credentials for free. There’s a wealth of resources out there, many of them specific to the industries that you’re interested in working for. If you haven’t checked already, take a look at your school’s list of online resources to see if they subscribe to Vault Campus—the blog is a great resource (I’m biased, I know), but Vault Campus can get you access to sample resumés, guides to various industries, and employee reviews from thousands of top companies. But whatever services your school offers, make sure that you check them out and make use of them on your job hunt—the more resources at your disposal, the better.
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