Career center gives students vital advice for post-grad plans

ME Online

ME Online

By Julian Scharman

A looming idea that very often takes a backseat to academia is post-collegiate activity, whether the grail for post-college life draws us to pursue a graduate degree or even the most vile and abhorrent four-letter word of them all, W-O-R-K.

The dilemma is this: how to embark on a quest for post-four-year-party activity without even being familiar with the starting line.

Students need not fret: the Career Center is your beacon of hope.

Offering post-college advice has been the forte of the University’s Career Center for more that fifty years, and with their comprehensive Web site launching in 1999, the same year it moved into its own building, their services have only been enhanced.

The grab bag of services offered by the Career Center covers the job search arena wall-to-wall.

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Located at 715 S. Wright Street, in Champaign, undergraduates, graduate students, employers, alumni, parents, staff, faculty, international students and any student organization or focus group may stroll in weekdays, between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m., and educate themselves about opportunities in the real world.

The resources available at the Career Center are abundant and may seem intimidating from a distance, but starting with the keystones of the center is crucial.

The Career Center offers a variety of workshops for those who are not so job search savvy, including programs to help resume writing, where to start looking for internships, how to research prospective employers, how to interview, how to go to career fairs and how to network, to name a handful.

Gail Rooney, director of the University Career Center, would like all students to know the center is a great place to kick off the search.

“We serve students who are looking for what they want to do and finding experiences while in school that will enhance their education,” Rooney said. “As well as informing students of all of the post-graduation options that they have.”

Some of the resources most unique to the Career Center are its mock interviews and externship program.

Mock interviews are available to students who submit their resume a few weeks ahead of time and come in with formal attire and an ambitious attitude.

A rigorous faux interview is conducted and recorded on tape or DVD, where the candidate is asked questions that are tailored to their career interest.

Afterward, a post-interview critique period takes place. Career Center members sit down with the student to discuss what was done very well as well as what needs to be improved.

The externship program, on the other hand, is a 60-person squad that is hand-picked by the Career Center after a screening process, and are all individually sent to shadow a qualified professional (and University alumnus) in their desired field for up to a week.

According to Rooney, students have been sent to shadow members of NASA, Microsoft, psychologists in California and accomplished judges and lawyers in Chicago.

Rooney wants all the prospective job candidates and students to know that the search must begin as early as possible to prepare to meet the most pressing needs of employers.

“Employers always tell us the best candidate for their positions is the student that has begun early to clarify his or her skills, interests and values,” Rooney said.

Students are encouraged to get out of their warm apartments, turn off that new episode of “Lost” and get over to the Career Center, said Ryan McQueen, junior in Engineering.

“Without a resource like the Career Center, job candidates would have to learn all the do’s and don’ts during actual interviews,” said McQueen, “Which would be like having to take an exam, before the lesson.”