7 Key Questions to Evaluate a College's Career Center

How to prepare students for the coming “Disruption in the Workplace”

A short interview with the Director of Career Services at Colgate University was offered through the Chronicle of Higher Education to highlight what Career Services can offer to college students. (http://www.chronicle.com/article/Helping-Students-Navigate/239771?cid=wc&utm_source=wc&utm_medium=en&elqTrackId=b14adba2fbd34fe7ba278f09f216cfe9&elq=3800215e951e43ca871ea59cfb650964&elqaid=13635&elqat=1&elqCampaignId=5662)

What does this Ivy League university offer their students in Career Services to help prepare them for the career search? 

1-      “Early and often” – Career Services has specific strategies and processes that start with the summer BEFORE frosh year! Not just to ‘find jobs’, but to promote self-awareness and help students realize who they are before they begin searching for their career paths.

2-      Career services mission – Colgate’s Career Services help students find those on-ramps and entry points towards work. They also help students learn to invent new opportunities for their skills.  

3-      Engagement with Career Services throughout all 4 years of college - 97% of students engaged with the Career Center at Colgate U last year between workshops, internships, counseling and immersion tracks or recruitment programs

4-      Age appropriate Career Services education – Career Services at Colgate U are not just talking to freshmen about “jobs”. They talk to the freshmen more about their passions, skills, strengths, and the takeaways from their first year of college. They help them understand “who they are” first. Then as sophomores, the Career Services move into strategic engagement with alumni in programs such as “immersion tracks” or job shadowing opportunities. These are short ‘entrée-ships’ - where students are engaging with alumni and parents to understand better how a liberal arts education translates into career and work.

5-      Sophomore Connection – During the weekend before Spring break ends, all sophomores are brought back to campus and engaged with an alumni and parent conference around Career fair type program. Career Center teaches students how to do informational interviews before they start their interaction with alumni, with ‘reflective components’ to allow students to ‘understand the differences and how they might connect’.

While this career services strategy may not be offered at many universities, there are components you can look for in every college to help you gain these same advantages.

7 Questions to evaluate the Quality of a college’s Career Services:  

1-      Where is the Career Center located on campus? Is it central?

2-      How long does it take for a student to get an appointment with a counselor and do you get to see the same person each time?

3-      What type of alumni engagement is offered through the Career Center?

4-      How many Career Fairs are hosted on campus each year? Are they open to all majors or for specific colleges/majors?

5-      How often are workshops held and what types of topics are offered?

6-      Are there different types of services offered as the student advances?

7-      Who helps with connecting students with internships or other job shadowing opportunities – Career Center, professors in their major, or both? Any formal programs that exist to help this happen?

These 7 questions can give you a picture of what type of career support you will receive for your tuition. It’s vital to your future to ensure the guidance is there as part of your college experience!