Gone are the days that students can rely on their college career centers to prepare them for the real world — now it’s on them. Students have to be accountable for their careers and seek out events, alumni and opportunities on their own.
In a new study by my company and Internmatch.com, we found that almost half of students aren’t using their career centers, and 64 percent are turning to online resources instead. The average ratio of students to career service professionals is 1,889 to 1, and we found that almost a third of students in our study say that centers don’t have enough staff to support demand.
What’s most alarming is that 61 percent say career centers are either never or rarely effective in helping them land a job. Clearly, students have to take matters into their own hands! Here are five tips:
1. Be proactive and attend as many career-oriented college events as possible. If your school is bringing in a guest speaker, or hosting a roundtable with alumni, you should attend. The worst outcome from going to an event like that is learning more about their industry, and the best is making a new connection that could lead to employment.
2. Get your career service center to introduce you to alumni in your field. The most important asset that career centers have, that they don’t use nearly enough, is their alumni database. Instead of just going into a meeting with your career counselor about your resume and cover letter, ask for introductions to alumni that are employed at companies that you’re interested in. That connection is way more important than the format your resume is in!
3. Use free or paid online platforms to educate yourself and stay ahead of the curve. Don’t rely on your career center as the single place where you learn job skills. Instead, turn to online resources like Udemy, Coursera, Khan Academy, SkillShare and Udacity. Based on your profession and industry, you can learn vital skills that will translate into new opportunities.
4. Do as many internships and freelance gigs as you can until you find the right career path. Students are almost always clueless about which career path to pursue even after selecting a college major. To figure things out, you have to have as many experiences as possible so you understand the types of roles you like and don’t like. By doing this, you realize the profession you want to be in, the size company you want to work for and the corporate culture you do best in.
5. Disconnect from technology and meet people face-to-face to build your soft skills. In a past survey, we found that 40 percent of students feel like technology has hurt their soft skills, such as the ability to interact and build relationships face to face. Make sure you are disconnecting every day so that you can meet people and form stronger connections that can lead to jobs.
Are you looking for more big ideas, trends and career tips?
Jennifer Guyer-Wood says
Although this article says “Students Can’t Rely on Career Centers…” to help them find employment, all of your tips are things a College Career Center can help with. As a director of a Career Center, I think they CAN rely on us. Maybe the title should be “Students WON’T Depend on Career Centers……” Even though many centers could use more staff, college job and internship listings (posted specifically for their students and alumni by employers who want to hire them), career fairs and events, workshops, and even appointments and walk-in hours are there for the taking at almost any college or University. We have to help students learn the importance of taking the initiative to use our services early and often. As much as I’d like to, I can’t show up at their residence hall room or apartment or even call each one on Skype to force them to get individual help from me. We have to encourage them to meet us halfway. You are correct in that most universities don’t “place” students in their first jobs anymore. We do help to make connections with jobs and internships, learn how to write resumes and interview, and learn how to find additional opportunities. We give students the tools they need to manage their careers for the rest of their lives.
Thanks for writing this. I think it gives students and universities something to think about.
Don Burrows says
I know Career Centers mean well, but when they persist in telling students to present themselves using cookie-cutter, generic, reverse-chronological one-step-fits-all dates-and-duties resumes that look like every one else’s cookie-cutter, generic, reverse-chronological one-step-fits-all dates-and-duties resumes, they are worse than useless.
Why they resist the idea of using relevant accomplishments and the skills used to achieve them to customize resumes and cover letters to the precise requirements of specific opportunities and insist on telling them to mass-distribute the same document over and over is beyond me.
For students interested in winning an interview, It’s so much more effective to present oneself as an IDEAL “CANDIDATE” than just another GENERIC “APPLICANT”
It’s the difference between STANDING OUT LIKE A MEATBALL on a plate of spaghetti, or blendinginlikesomuchforgettablefettuccine.
Apparently caught in a time warp and on cruise-control to retirement, they are thinking like it is the last century and expecting that the tools of the last century will do the job in this one.
The students who follow their ineffective advice pay the price, as do university presidents who struggle to justify the worth of all that tuition money paid when their graduates can’t even get interviews, let alone jobs.
On more than one occasion I about pulled clumps of hair from my head after speaking with Career Service directors who cannot distinguish between an “activity” and an “accomplishment” and who advise their students to use the traditional reverse-chrono resume “because that’s what HR wants to see” and never give a moment’s thought to the fact that it is those same damned HR recruiters that ignore what’s sent to them and the kids go months without ever hearing a peep.
And of course the student loans do need to be repaid . . . and then there’s the interest . . .
It’s shameful, and what’s worse I have yet to come across one Career Services office that is unrelentingly committed and laser-focused in helping the kids figure out, in precise detail so that they can speak authentically and memorably and relevantly, about what they have actually ACCOMPLISHED that would be of interest to potential employers.
I worked with a kid who followed the generic (read: useless) advice of his Career Services office and went for three months without a single call, let alone an interview. At the outset of working together I asked him to identify his major college accomplishments. Blank stare, followed by, “I graduated,” was all he could offer.
After demolishing that obstacle and helping him build an accomplishments mindset and put together his Accomplishments Data Bank, he shared that during four years there, NOT ONE SINGLE ADULT in any classroom, lab or office ever told him to think about his education in terms of specific accomplishments that would be of interest to a potential employer.
Within a couple of weeks of sending out customized credentials, he won three interviews.
And even more mind-blowing, one assistant director at a different school told me she, her boss and all of their staff advised their seniors to only prepare generic reverse-chronological dates-and-duties resumes because “they are so young, they have no accomplishments!”
HOLY CRAP! That’s advice people are being paid to give college graduates?
I’m sure somewhere there are Career Services that are preparing their graduates to find work in the real world, and I applaud them.
And wish there were more of them.
CUSTOM works. GENERIC remains unemployed.
Don Burrows, M.A. – 425.231.0085 / http://www.StopSendingJobSearchJunkMail.com
Résumé Strategist, Author and Workshop Leader
Amazon Kindle Best-Selling Author of “How to Get Interviews! Stop Sending Job Search Junk Mail”
“If you can’t get interviews for work you want, your education and experience won’t matter.”
Scott Tremoulis says
Great article. I also ready your book “Promote Yourself” and it is one of the greatest tools I have in helping me advance my career. I go back and read sections of it regularly. I had a questions about MOOCs. Is it worth it to get the certificate that some of them offer? I know that these can range from $40-100, which is a bargain for a class, but is it worth it to pay that to prove you took it to potential employers? I have attempted to find some research on this question, but since MOOCs are a new phenomena it is very slim.
Patrick Fai says
One interesting article for one to bring in opportunities and skills required for a good job landing. Thanks!