I was part of a recent discussion about college career offices. Some fee-based career coaches and resume writers, who get paid for their services while most career offices don't charge, aren't impressed with what career centers offer their constituents. I'll start with a disclaimer. I worked in a college career office for many years, and I have nothing but good to say about the accredited professionals who help students and alumni find their career path - and their next job or internship.
The staff in your career office will provide career counseling, resume and cover letter writing and editing, job and internship listings for students and alumni, recruiting and career networking programs and events, job fairs and much more. It should be the first place every single student goes to when they start college, and it will help throughout your college years, and afterwards, in the case of the many colleges and universities that provide services to alumni for life.
Besides the fact that most college career services are free for students and, in some cases, for alumni, there's another big bonus involved in working with your career center if you're a student or grad. Many career offices have alumni career networks of volunteers who are more than willing to help with a job search or with sharing information about their career.
In addition, most offices have a database of job and internship listings specifically for their constituents - jobs listed by alumni, by recruiters who want applicants from your school and by employers in the local community.
If you're a college student or grad the first place you should go for help with exploring careers, resumes and cover letters, finding a job or internship, getting networking contacts and for personal career counseling is your career office. In fact, you should go before you need help. Starting out school with a relationship with your office will give you an advantage when you're ready for the "real" world. Career counselors are more than happy to meet with students - that's what they're there for - so make an appointment or stop in, because it will only help you advance your career.
For those who haven't contacted their career center yet or in a while, with many schools it is never too late. Check out your school's career center and alumni office websites to see what services are available - and take advantage of everything you can. Here's more on how your career office can help.
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