What Next?

Career Centers and Placement Offices—Helping Define Your Future

Resources For Choosing a Career After CollegeThat’s the question on every student and parents’ mind when graduation time rolls around. The last thing any parent wants is to finish footing the bill for college, only to pay for six months worth of unemployment. Luckily, most 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 students find, prepare for, and seamlessly transition into the profession of their choice. Check out what kinds of help are available:

A World of Possibilities

Here students can take an occupation aptitude test, 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, career centers 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 aid, 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 education gained in the classroom 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 university system to find solutions and career possibilities. During the first two months of freshman year, students should seek out an advisor through their college’s career center who will be there during all four (or five…or six) undergraduate 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 grad school.

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, graduate school, 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 post-graduate employment, they do provide a source of up-to-date information and insight from people with similar educational backgrounds.


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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