Because Nobody Goes!
In April of this year, as graduation loomed around the corner for the group of senior business majors I was speaking to at my local college, I asked them “how many of you have been to the Career Services Office?” Two people raised their hands. 2 out of 35. This is my ongoing experience when I go to college campuses to talk with undergraduates about transitioning from college into their careers. 2 out of 35. Doesn’t matter if I am talking with freshmen, juniors or seniors – business, biology or graphic design majors – from small private colleges or large universities – about two out 35.
When I ask why there is a chorus of criticism – “oh they are awful” – “they don’t help anyone”, “everyone knows they are terrible”. That is when I point out that it is easy to be critical when you have never set foot in the office and tell the students I am talking with that they are NUTs if they don’t drop in and see what is available. Look – for certain all Career Services Offices are not created equal. Some of them are in fact awful, many are just ok and some are brilliant. They are absolutely not staffed to provide coaching to all or even a reasonable amount of students, and they suffer credibility issues when they staff up with new graduates. But absolutely all of them have something to offer. For certain they hold the keys to Job Fairs. They can also help make links between majors and careers and most of them will videotape you doing a mock interview so you can see yourself in an interview session and find simple ways to be more effective in the moment.
Like anything else, the Career Services Office is a resource. I know many students who were helped enormously by these organizations. Students, it is your job to find the value that they can offer, just like it is your job to find value in good and bad professors or good or bad internships. Learning to find and extract value wherever you go is a critical life skill.
So students – as you are all heading back to campus at the end of the month – whether you are an incoming freshman or a rising senior, my challenge to you is to walk into those offices and ask them what they offer. Learn about their services, find something that will be useful and get as much support as makes sense from your perspective. Drop the easy, kind of lazy, response that they are ‘awful’ until/unless that turns out to be your experience. And parents – this is a reasonable expectations for you to have – you are, after all, paying for these services. If, after you go to the Career Services Office, you feel that you could use a more individualized, focused plan of attack feel free to give us a call for a free session. But be advised – if we work together I am going to send you back there for something, somewhere along the way!
Enjoy the rest of your summer and Happy almost Fall.