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Getting the Most From Your Career Center

Feb 8, 2010 Jennifer Williamson, Distance Education.org Columnist | 0 Comments

To most college students, the career center is there to help them write a resume, maybe check some preliminary job listings, and run a career fair once a year or so. But you could be getting a lot more help from your career center—especially if you start using it before the end of your senior year. Here are a few tips for getting the most out of your college’s career center—and make your job search much easier.

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Go before your senior year 

Many college students don’t make use of their career center before their senior year. This doesn’t give them enough time to really take advantage of the resource. In reality, it’s better to go at the end of your freshman year or during your sophomore year. The advantage of this is that you can sit down with your career counselor, talk about your career goals, and find out what you can be doing in college to give you an edge on the job market when you get out. Going before your senior year gives you time to act on that advice.

Ask for interview coaching

Your career counselor can help you prepare for your first interview by giving you advance warning on the types of questions to expect and rehearsing interviews with you before you go. This can be an invaluable aid to boost your confidence before that first interview—especially if you’re not used to interviewing for jobs. Even if you did interview for most of your summer jobs in college and high school, the jobs you’ll be applying for out of college will hopefully be in a higher pay bracket—and the interview process may be more intense.

Ask for a regular plan

This is another advantage of getting to know your career center before the last few weeks of your senior year. If you go several months before graduation, you’ll have time to ask your career counselor to help you craft a job search plan that you can stick to on a weekly basis. An active job search is almost another full-time job in itself—and if you leave it till after graduation to figure out how to do it, you may miss out on a few job search techniques you could have learned before you graduate. Not to mention, if you develop a job search habit before graduation, it’ll be easier to keep up with after you graduate—if you haven’t found a job by then.

Get regular notifications

Your career center probably holds regular events, from small classes on polishing up your resume to large job fairs. If you’re not on the mailing list for these events, make sure you get on. The regular classes will help you develop your job search skills and get prepared for graduation, and a career fair could be what lands you your first job after graduation.

Leverage your alumni network

One of the best things your career center can do for you is get in touch with an entire network of people already established in their careers. Alumni tend to want to help out new graduates from their online college, so be sure to ask your career center to put you in touch with alumni working in your field. The sooner you can develop a relationship with one or several of them—just by dropping an email and asking for advice on how to break into their industry—the better. That way they’ll be likely to think of you first when a new entry-level opportunity comes up.

Keep in touch after you graduate and land a job

Your career center isn’t just there to help students. It can also help you long after you graduate and after you land your first job. Years after graduation, if you want to move up in your current career path or make a switch to another industry, you can use your alumni network through the career center to find new opportunities.

Whether you go to school online or at a traditional campus, your school’s career center can do more than just help you improve your resume. It can do a lot to help you prepare for interviews, find new opportunities, and even land a job before you graduate. Start using it sooner rather than later, and you may be able to get the job search over with before you earn your degree.

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