While you may think that college career centers have gone the way of the Dodo (or maybe, to use a more apt metaphor, the way of MySpace), they actually still are quite helpful. With graduates increasingly struggling to land well-paid work in their fields after classes end, it pays (get it?) to get as much help as you can before you’re out on your own. The best thing about your career center at school? It’s free. What’s more, it also has some real valuable services to offer, like:
1. Aptitude Testing
Even after years in the workforce, I still come across situations that require a whole team to take a personality or work-styles test. Some common examples are the Strengths Finder test, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator®, and other self-assessments that can help to show how you like to work (example: alone or in groups), what type of environment might be best (example: dynamic and changing or steady and trusted), and give you some food for thought about a career path. No quiz on the back pages of a fashion magazine is going to do everything for you, but your career center should be able to administer these complicated tests and help you interpret the results.
2. Resume Writing (and Review)
The most important document you’ll need for job applications is a great resume, and if you’re just starting out, you might be hard pressed to find material to fill it. Your career center should offer not only a wealth of examples of resumes by students just like you, but also can proof and critique resume drafts that you write. In the regular world, resume review and help can cost hundreds of dollars per hour, so take advantage of your career center staff and their complimentary services while you can!
3. Mock Interviews
Have you ever gotten tongue tied when nervous? While some career centers are the sites of on-campus recruitment interviews, they also can help prepare you for those nerve-wracking encounters so you don’t lose your cool. They can talk to you about having a narrative prepared to discuss your job experience and career goals, and provide details on common questions you could get asked, so you can have your answers at the ready. You know what they say about getting to Carnegie Hall … practice, practice, practice.
4. A Library of Career Ideas
There’s nothing wrong or strange about changing a major, so why not your career? Even students need to think outside the box sometimes. Instead of buying a ton of career books, try what’s on the shelf at your college career center as a starting point. You might discover that your major is preparing you to do bigger things than you first imagined. A little brainstorming, and you won’t be singing “What Do You Do with a B.A. in English” for long.
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