Congratulations, You’re a Community College Graduate—Now What?


That’s the question on every student’s mind when graduation time rolls around. The last thing anyone wants is to pay for two years (or more) of community college tuition, only to end up working for a minimum wage job while still searching for their dream job. Luckily, most community colleges provide their students with invaluable resources for answering this question long before it comes time to turn the tassel. Career centers and placement offices are designed to help community college graduates and current students find, prepare for, and seamlessly transition into the profession of their choice. Read on to find out more.

A World of Possibilities

At career centers, students can take occupation aptitude tests, peruse job directories, have their cover letters revised, or apply for the perfect internship. Ready to take students all the way from clueless to readily employed, a community college career center may offer material ranging from books on how to choose a major to job placement search engines to graduate school applications. Need some tips on how to market a philosophy major? Want to see some sample résumés? This is the place to find it all. Career centers also offer résumé review sessions and mock interview seminars to help students perfect their professional appearance and conduct. You’ll find information on internships, co-op programs, part-time positions, work-study programs, volunteer opportunities, and career fairs offered in the area to give students a working taste of what “the real world” is actually like.

Meet the Advisor: Your New Best Friend

Career advisors are crucial in planning how your community college courses can translate to marketable skills on a résumé. A career counselor is a person who can listen to problems, make suggestions, and work within the college system to find solutions and career possibilities for community college graduates. During the first year, students should seek out an advisor through their school’s career center who will be there to help counsel them during their two years. By setting up advising early, an expert will be there to counsel through course adjustments, declaring a major, writing the first résumé, surviving the first interview, and career crises of all kinds. Having someone who has “been there and done that” to answer questions and make recommendations can help students plan their coursework with an eye toward future employment or continuing their education with a four-year college or university.

Network, Network, Network

As they say, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know and, moreover, who knows you. Many career centers set up alumni networks to make meeting people, specifically those already employed in a particular field, painless and easy. Through networking with alumni, students can get realistic answers to questions about career paths, individual companies, continuing education, employment trends, entry-level salaries, the application process, and most important, who to contact and how to approach them. Though alumni networks are not the same as job placement services and do not guarantee postgraduate employment, they do provide a source of up-to-date information and insight from people with similar educational backgrounds.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

This article was written by Christina Couch

Christina Couch is a freelance writer based in Richmond, Virginia, and Chicago, Illinois. She is the author of Virginia Colleges 101: The Ultimate Guide for Students of All Ages (Palari Publishing, 2008). Her byline can also be found on AOL.com, MSN.com, and Yahoo.com, and in Wired Magazine.

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