Every campus has one: a collection of counselors and advisers standing by to help you with your resume, networking skills and 10-year-plan. But the sad truth is that many students don't walk into their campus career center until their senior year, says Amanda Baker, an assistant director of the Johns Hopkins University Career Center. Most career centers offer a myriad of different services: everything from mock interviews to resume workshops to alumni networking opportunities. We talked to Baker and collegiettes about how to take advantage of what your career center offers.
1. Peer and alumni mentors
Especially if you're a freshman or sophomore, pairing up with an upperclassman to talk about your future career can be amazingly helpful. Many schools have a peer mentoring service you can sign up for (or some schools automatically enroll first-year students in such a program) that will pair you with someone who can answer questions you have about prepping for life post-graduation. This was a great resource for Alyssa, a senior at the University of Texas at Austin. "I signed up for this program my first semester," she says. "I was paired with a senior who helped me develop study skills and motivated me as I took some difficult classes."
Additionally, many schools would be happy to connect you with an alumnus or alumna to talk about his or her career. "People want to mentor students," Baker says. "A lot of alumni want to help out students in a nonfinancial way. It's a great way to get help."
After you are paired up with a peer or alumni mentor, you're often encouraged to email or see them regularly. "Build a relationship," Baker says. Ask them questions about classes to take or why they chose their particular career. Alumni may even be able to help you later when you're applying for jobs! Check out your career center's website to see if your school offers a similar program.
2. Career aptitude tests
Have absolutely no idea what you want to do after college? Taking a career aptitude test can be a great way to explore your options if you're undecided. Baker says that many schools offer tests like Myers-Briggs, a personality test that can shed light onto possible career choices that would suit your skill set. "They're almost always free," Baker says.
Be sure to check your campus's website to check out the offerings. These tests will ask you questions about how you approach life, how detail-oriented you are, how extroverted or introverted you are and many more. Baker says you can take these tests online once your career center gives you a school-specific code (so you can take it for free!), and after you take it, many schools will set you up with a counselor to go over your results together.
"I took the Myers-Briggs during a career center workshop class I took over winter break," says Vanessa, a junior at Johns Hopkins University. "It was cool to see what careers the test thought I would be good at, [like] engineering, my major. The test also confirmed that I should never work in anything revolving around customer service!"
3. Resume critique
Does your high school resume need some polishing? Most schools offer resume workshops where you can bring in a draft or a finished resume and have a professional career adviser look it over before you send it to potential employers.
This was extremely helpful for Kayla, a junior at the University of South Carolina. "My resume needed a total overhaul, and the career center professionals showed me what needed to be replaced or eliminated altogether," she says.
Angelina, a student at Ramapo College of New Jersey, credits her resume critique with getting her internship. "[My career center] would look over your resume depending on your major and what kind of internship you're looking for," she says. "I wish more of my friends took advantage of this, because this workshop helped me land my internship at Good Housekeeping that spring!"
4. Business cards and photos
Your career center may even offer to make you business cards for free! This was an amazing perk for Megan, a student at Illinois State University. "The cards had all of my information on it, plus the Illinois State University logo," she says. "So many of the employers I talked to were very impressed by them and couldn't believe my career center did it, especially for free."
While your school might not offer this service, many do offer lots of other free perks! Alyssa was able to get a free LinkedIn photo taken at the UT Austin career center. "A good picture on LinkedIn presents you in a good light... so it's incredibly important not to post a grainy selfie," she says. Alyssa loved how it turned out because she likely would not have been able to get as professional a picture had she taken it herself!
Click here to head over to Her Campus for five more benefits your campus career center might offer!
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