Career planning is a demanding exercise, one that requires continuous evaluation of career goals and interests as well as intermittent adjustment of professional priorities. When you begin your journey at college you may or may not have a clear view of what you want to do. Regardless, you should not go to college with a fixed mindset rather approach it as one of the most transformational aspects of your career journey. The key is to maximize the possibilities presented to you. The opportunity to do and be anything is truly possible while you are at school. Once you gather more professional experience, organizations begin factoring your previous experiences strongly. B-schools present a unique avenue to students to switch careers and focus on functions and industries that they anticipate they can build a long- term career in. For many of you, the opportunity to work in certain organizations may only be possible via the conduit of the recruiting engine at your college.
Regardless, there is one organization at college whose sole purpose is to help you discover and strive to meet your goals. That is your career center. Many students however, do not know how to effectively utilize their career center and coaches.Some are too shy to reach out and seek guidance, others presume that advisors with experience in only a particular industry have credible expertise. Others are too busy with the multitude of activities to even find time and yet many others find other resources to meet their needs.
No matter where you stand, it is imperative that you understand how best to utilize your career center as you advance in your career journey. Take full advantage of career counselling services provided by your career coaches as they may not be available once you graduate and are out in the real world.
Here are 3 key areas for you to leverage your career center:
- Understanding the Recruiting Resources for Internships and Full-time Opportunities
Each college has its own process for facilitating internships and full-time recruiting. Often, students rely on peers and clubs to learn about the relevant process. At times, they miss critical timings for career events that entail applying for relevant career opportunities. Make sure you read mails from your career center about career services and resources available to you, explore the career center web page, sign up for any apps. Simply put, stay on top of communication from your career center. Many career centers send out newsletters, links and even conduct work-shops during orientation explaining about the process and resources available. Don’t tune out during these workshops, take notes and subscribe to lists from your career center. Career centers also manage schedule of networking events with employers, alums and other stakeholders. Being aware of this information in advance can help in avoiding the last minute rush, and eliminate cases where you miss out on events simply because you didn’t know about them.
Yes, there are a lot of activities and things going on at college but make sure you don’t push communication from your career center to the bottom of the list. This could be the difference between landing that dream internship or making do with a mediocre job role.
Some career centers also have several coaches who help you navigate your time at college to identify career paths you are interested in and accordingly present your candidacy.
- Customizing your application for a particular career path
Once you have your resume crafted and have explored potential careers, you can also leverage your career center to guide you as to how to present yourself in the best manner. Career centers are primarily responsible for the resume book submission process. Also, during the resume review cycle they widen their timings for student appointments. Leverage these appointments to ask critical questions and get feedback on how to customize the presentation of your achievements, career history, and accomplishments in your resume and application.
You can also work with your coach to create a career development plan that would help you arrive at the career you are aspiring for. Coaches usually have key insights into expectations of companies in different industries. Along with your seniors can guide you towards courses and activities that you can choose through the course of your college study so as to increase your fit for a particular career.
Career centers can also provide information about upcoming career treks that can grant exposure to different companies within the particular field you are aspiring for. Often this information is discovered by candidates late in the process, the sooner you know about the possibilities, the easier it will be to increase your chances of developing a deeper understanding about the career as well as presenting yourself in the best possible manner.
- How should I build and take advantage of my network?
Networking is the most critical component of modern day job search and career management. Career centers usually structure their recruitment assistance primarily by reaching out to industry executives and HR personnel from their network. Seek the help of your career counselor to learn about all networking channels-alums working in your desired industry, professors who know industry veterans, seniors who interned with exciting start-ups and VCs etc. Many career centers also have industry connect events, job fairs and groups who facilitate networking events between alumni and students. In some cases, students seeking internships may be able to work with their career center to identify recruiters who are interested in hiring interns from their colleges. Career centers are also privy to certain students of a cohort who may be able to guide others about various career choices. For example, you may have sponsored candidates in your cohort during B-School who may be willing to give you guidance about a particular career.
While not all career centers have access to the same set of resources and teams, their agenda and mandate is consistent – to help you be successful in your career. Make sure you are making the most of this invaluable resource.