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One of the most important reasons students enroll in college is to graduate and start an exciting career. Your school’s career services can help you reach your goals.

(Hidden) Services

According to a recent Student Health 101 survey, only 37 percent of respondents have consulted their career services. More than half of those were looking for help with résumés or cover letters. Marie B., a recent graduate of the University of Mississippi in Oxford, says, “I didn’t use [the career center at first] because honestly I wasn’t sure what it was or what they offered.”

Heather N. Garcia, a career and transfer services coordinator at Arkansas State University-Beebe, explains, “A career counselor can help you complete a career assessment, which will identify your interests, skills, work values, and personality style. [This can] lead to the identification of majors or occupations that fit your needs best.”

Here are some other career center perks:

  • Career fairs
  • Mock interviews with individual feedback
  • Meet-and-greets with hiring employers
  • Internship and work-study listings
  • Individual consultations
  • Alumni network contacts
  • Industry-specific pointers

Garcia explains that you don’t need to be sure of your career to benefit, and the cost of services is usually included in your tuition. If you sought them outside of school, they could run you more than $150 an hour.

Albert R., a senior at Colgate University in Hamilton, New York, says, “The career center is a way to find opportunities.”

Secrets of Career-Planning Success

According to Garcia, “If there is one nugget of information that I could impart to students everywhere, it would be: Start now!”

If you’re proactive, you’ll be in a stronger position than other job applicants. Marie, who pursued nursing, says, “If I thought about it sooner and used the career center [earlier], I would have been less stressed and further along in my career than I am now.”

Kick-start your career today by following these steps:

  • Educate yourself about your career center’s services.
  • Learn more about careers that interest you.
  • Look for networking opportunities.
  • Join career-focused organizations, clubs, or honor societies-both on and off campus.

Lisa Carver, a professional career counselor and co-founder of Campus to Career, Inc., says networking is essential. She suggests, “Take advantage of alumni programs. They offer a great opportunity to meet professionals, both new and seasoned.”

Garcia agrees. “I like to encourage students to approach employers directly to learn about opportunities and get to know professionals.” Researching not only your intended field but also specific companies and their cultures will help you choose a good match. The staff at your career center will have familiarity with many organizations or can connect you with other students and alumni who do.

Doing all of this early will ease some job-search stress as you near completion of your degree.

Even if you are considering many possibilities for work, acquainting yourself with the career services offered at your school is the first step to landing a job you love.

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