by E. Chandlee Bryan
If your interests are similar to the majority of incoming college students over the past 40 years, one of the key factors in your decision to attend college is the ability to land a “good job” after graduation, according to a UCLA Survey. A majority of U.S. colleges and universities offer career services to students; these offices generally provide comprehensive services that are designed to help you apply for positions and prepare for interviews. They also offer you access to databases of internship and full-time positions to which you may apply.
In this article, we examine three myths of the on-campus job search and provide you with tips on how to make the most out of your campus career office.
Myth: Employers recruit on campus only at highly selective institutions.
Fact: Many corporate employers primarily hold on-campus interviews at a short list of institutions. Employers consider multiple factors when deciding where to recruit, including:
- Campus demographics (including number of enrolled students, diversity on campus, student admissions profiles)
- Curriculum (particularly important for technical and quantitative positions that may require computer science, engineering, economics, and mathematics majors)
- Geographical location (Where jobs are located compared to student preferences for living post-graduation)
- Alumni (many employees serve as internal “champions” for their school at their company and return to the institutions from which they received their degree to recruit)
Tip: While access to a list of employers recruiting on campus is typically restricted to current students, a good way to find a list of employers recruiting on campus is to search a school’s website for an employer directory of participating employers at career fairs.
Many colleges hold annual career fairs and publicize the employer list on their website.
Myth: If I go to a “good school,” I will get the job or internship of my choice.
Fact: On-campus recruiting programs are frequently highly competitive — regardless of where you go to school. To succeed, you generally must meet the employer’s pre-established criteria to get to the interview stage, typically including meeting a minimum GPA for a position, completing relevant coursework, and demonstrating your skills, interest, and “fit” during the application process. You can learn what the company is looking for in advance by taking a proactive approach to information gathering — attending career fairs, talking to alumni/ae employed by the company, reviewing company Websites, and meeting with a counselor at your career-services office are all good ways to start your search early.
Myth: It is the responsibility of my college career-services office to place me in a position.
Fact: A majority of career-services offices serve as a liaison between students and employers, offering programs that help students prepare for and connect with appropriate opportunities. It is not the role of a career center to “place” students in positions; career centers ensure equal access to position listings for all students and ensure employer compliance with Equal Opportunity Guidelines.
Many career-services offices and employment professionals belong to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) and abide by the organization’s Principles for Professional Practice. Under the guidelines, career centers:
- Maintain an open and free selection of employment opportunities in an atmosphere conducive to objective thought, in which job candidates can choose optimum long-term uses of their talents that are consistent with personal objectives and all relevant facts;
- Maintain a recruitment process that is fair and equitable to candidates and employing organizations;
- Support informed and responsible decision making by candidates.
Regardless of where you go to school, chances are good that your university career office is staffed with dedicated, knowledgeable professionals who can help you plan and achieve your career goals and assist you in exploring options and landing an internship, as well as provide advice on negotiating your first job offer. As these resources are generally included with your tuition, take advantage of them. Here are three ways to take full advantage:
- Develop a relationship with one or more career-center staff members so that they know you on a first-name basis. The more you research your options and prepare your materials within the context of what you are applying for, the easier you’ll find it to land an opportunity that meets your career goals.
- Make an appointment to talk to career-counseling staff (Note: Most centers will not write resumes and cover letters for you, but they will critique and help you revise your documents. Many centers also provide mock interviews for individual interview coaching.)
- Attend workshops and career-center programming. From workshops on skill development to panels of industry experts designed to expose you to career options in a particular field; chances are good that you’ll find a workshop that can help you get started.
Final Thoughts on College Career Centers
For even more advice on how to best use the valuable career services at your college or university, review these other articles published on Quintessential Careers:
- Career Services Do’s and Don’ts
- It’s Never Too Early — or Too Late — to Visit Your College Career Office
- Seven Not-So-Obvious Reasons to Take Advantage of Your Campus Career Center
Questions about some of the terminology used in this article? Get more information (definitions and links) on key college, career, and job-search terms by going to our Job-Seeker’s Glossary of Job-Hunting Terms.
E. Chandlee Bryan is a certified professional resume writer and career counselor at Careers in Context. Chandlee specializes in providing services and career advisement to emerging professionals; she has worked in Career Services office at the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University, and served as director of career Services at the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth College. She has also worked “on the other side of the desk” as a recruiter.
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