What Do College Career Services Offices Do?
Here's what to expect from the career office at your college
Most, if not all, college students share the same goal. Upon completing their degrees, if not going on to attain even higher levels of education, they want to pursue careers. Most colleges and universities have a career services office, which may be alternatively called a career center, career placement office, or career office. Regardless of the name, this office provides a variety of services to help students (and often alumni) meet that goal.
Here are some basic ones you can expect from your college's career services office. If you are shopping around for a college, you may want to make sure yours provides these services.
- Career Decision Making: a counselor at the career services office can help you choose a career, whether you have no idea about what you want to do or are leaning toward a particular occupation. He or she will use self-assessment tools to examine your values, personality, interests, and abilities and then, based on the results, either suggest some possible options or help you figure out if the career you have in mind is suitable for you. The career counselor will subsequently help you decide what academic major will help you meet your goals.
- Career Exploration: You can go to the career services office to learn about various occupations which is something you will have to do when you are trying to decide which one to choose. A counselor will point you toward resources that you can use to gather information that should include a job description, educational and other job requirements, earnings and job outlook. Career services offices usually maintain libraries that contain career-related information. Most maintain websites that direct you to that information online. The career services office should also have a database of alumni who are willing to discuss their careers with current students.
- Resume Writing / Cover Letter Writing: Career services offices help students write their resumes and cover letters. They often conduct workshops and provide one-on-one sessions during which they critique resumes and cover letters.
- Job Interview Preparation: Career services offices usually sponsor workshops to help you learn how to present yourself well in a job interview. They sometimes provide mock interviewing sessions where you can practice your skills.
- On-Campus Recruiting: Career services offices maintain job listings. They also post part-time job openings for current students. Some also alert students to internship opportunities, although that is sometimes handled by a separate department. Career services offices host job fairs during which employers visit the campus to recruit students who are about to graduate.
- Credential Management: Career services offices sometimes maintain student files containing letters of recommendation from faculty. They can then forward these letters to potential employers and graduate schools upon the student's request. There is often a mailing charge for sending out these letters.
- Career Management System: Students can access a college's career management system or job portal to look at employment and internship listings, register for workshops and schedule appointments with counselors and on-campus recruiters. They can also upload resumes into a searchable database which employers can then use to recruit applicants.
- Graduate School Advisement: Career services offices may help undergraduate students decide whether graduate school is a viable option based on their career aspirations and their performance in college. They can assist students in choosing an appropriate program.