On day 18 of the #60Day Challenge – where we focus on one 60-minute task every day for 60 days, all in an effort to help you become far more employable just two months from now – we visit a wholly under-utilized resource: your school’s career center.
Today we boldly go where very far-too-few students, recent graduates and young professionals have gone before: the career center.
Some estimate that just 10% of students ever set foot in their school’s career center; others believe that number is closer to 1%. Today, you are going to be a one-percenter. Or, at the very least, you are going to schedule an appointment to be a one-percenter.
Before you do that, we’re going to help set proper expectations with two statements:
- The career center is not a placement agency; it is not their function to “get you a job” but to help you position yourself as employable
- The career center is not responsible for your career; ultimately, you must hold yourself accountable for the direction your career goes
Having said that, let’s also be very clear on another point…
Not all career centers are created equal. Some – obviously stuck in 1974 – are delivering advice that might hurt your early career more than help. For every amazing career center like Michigan, Penn, Elizabethtown, Messiah and Spring Hill that helps not only current students but alumni… there seems to be five centers who don’t have a clue; they just haven’t embraced the contemporary advice that works in today’s job market.
How can you tell whether you career center is a gold mine of relevant information or nothing more than a timesuck? You visit them, and you ask three questions:
- What is your position on the use of objective statements on my resume?
- How are you, personally and as an office, currently using social media?
- Can you give me an example of a student/grad/alum has really struggled with their career and you helped turn their efforts around?
If the answer to Q1 is “the objective statement has been a staple of the modern resume since 1954; of course the resume must start with an objective”… run away. Your job here is done.
If the answer to Q2 starts with “yeah, that isn’t what we do here… want to schedule a mock interview?” you don’t need to run away, although a brisk pace might be appropriate.
If, when answering Q3, the career center professional starts quoting graduate placement statistics instead of providing you real examples of real people they’ve helped, get out. They have not embraced their roles as mentors and are, instead, willing to deliver sound bites instead of sound advice.
On the other hand, if during your visit you are given answers opposite to these – and it is clear that center is there to serve as mentors – settle in. See how they can best help. Discover how you can leverage their expertise, networking contacts and knowledge of the local economy. That career center is a gold mine… and will serve your career goals well.
Now, go make an appointment with your career center. Lead the conversation. Ask those three questions. And see if a beneficial relationship with your on-campus career center develops as a result.
And if it does… tell your friends. Tell us. After all, the more the good career centers get talked up… the more the bad career centers will need to step up.
Jump to Day 19 of the #60Day Challenge by clicking here!