Ok, I’ll admit that “Best Friends Forever” might be a stretch for your relationship with Career Services, but for the time you’re in college it makes all the sense in the world to be “best friends” with them. In fact, if you’re an alum looking to make a job change it makes a lot of sense for you too.
Recently, I was providing some job search help to an engineering masters student who will graduate in December. One of the many questions I asked him was this, “How many of the staff in Engineering Career Services have you met and spoken with?” His answer was, “One, just one time.”
So let me ask you that same question, “How many of the professionals in your career services office have you met and worked with?”
Is your answer one….two….more than two? Please, don’t tell me that it’s zero. If it is, I want you to pull up a chair and stick with me for the next few minutes. In fact, even if it isn’t zero, I would invite you to pull up a chair and settle in.
I Was Guilty As An Undergrad
I must admit that during my early years as an undergrad in engineering at Iowa State, my answer to this same question would have been zero. I simply didn’t know any better.
Naively, I looked at Engineering Career Services as the place where you went to interview and to get an internship (luckily I did both). Those were the only two reasons I went there.
That was a HUUUUUGE mistake. How do I know? Because at age 35, I quit my job and went to grad school at the UW-Madison full-time. I was what they referred to as a non-traditional, adult student.
I Wised Up In Grad School
During my two-year MBA program in Madison, I made the conscious decision to meet and get to know the director of the Business School’s Career Services department.
Getting to know Karen was a pleasure in and of itself, but more importantly, our relationship ended up being a major factor in me landing a Madison-based position when I graduated.
4 Reasons You Must Do This
So today, as I reflect back on the interactions I had with Karen and her department, these are the four biggest reasons that you absolutely, positively, must get to know the professionals in your engineering career services department.
- Their job, their priority, is to help you build the skills and to work through the maze of steps necessary to get a great job, be it an internship or a full-time position after you graduate.
They live and breathe “this stuff”. No where else in your network will there be anyone who spends 40 hours and more each week advising, coaching, connecting, and cheering for, young people like you.
They are on your side.
- They are experts at what they do. They are teachers.
Whether it’s one on one, in a group workshop, or in the content on their website, they are the go-to source for resume help, interviewing tips and practice, company information, and a whole lot more.
They and their department contain a wealth of knowledge, and it’s all there for you.
- Career services professionals are incredibly well connected to the organizations that are hiring and to the company recruiters who are doing the campus interviews.
All year long, they’re interacting with company representatives who are looking for top talent. Depending on the size of your engineering college program, this means they may work with hundreds of company recruiters.
So not only do they know the people who you need to get to know, their relationships let them know what skills matter most to the hiring companies.
- They care about you in a way no else does.
In my past roles as both an independent and a corporate recruiter, I attended multiple conferences for career development professionals. Each time I was blown away by how helpful and how giving everyone was. I think it must be in their DNA.
Seriously, my experience has been that career services people care, deeply.
When I speak to engineering college students, I often remind them that the endgame for most of them after graduation will be to land a great job in a great company. At least I know it was for me.
If this is your goal too, I strongly recommend that you invest time building relationships with the professionals in your career services department.
Question: What steps will you take, today, to get to know your career services professionals? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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CONDUCTING INFORMATIONAL INTERVIEWS