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Career Services

An Open Letter To Students And Parents

As college freshmen nationwide continue exploring their campuses – finding dining halls, laundry rooms, bookstores and the student centers – officials at many schools say the new recruits are increasingly finding their way to career centers.

Returning students are looking forward to seeing their friends and starting a new quarter. New students are wondering what life as a college student will be like. Seniors are beginning to contemplate life after college. Parents of seniors are wondering what their blossoming adults are going to do when they graduate, whether or not they are going to be able to get an internship or job, and when they are going to start paying their own bills. 

College career offices, including CWU’s Career Services, are reporting dramatic hikes in use by first-year students looking for early employment possibilities on campus and elsewhere. "College is expensive and difficult ... probably the largest single investment that our students will ever make," said John Kniering, career services director at the University of Hartford. "It seems natural that freshman year is not too early to start."
The so-called Millennial-cohort is also filled with go-getters, said Nancy Dudak, director of the career center at Villanova University near Philadelphia.

"This generation of college students is used to being busy and having it all," Dudak said. "They had really packed careers in high school. They just look to continue that intensity when they come to college."

Surely, with all the money students and parents have invested in their education, these eager students and graduates should be able to get jobs, right? That’s the next logical step, isn’t it? The university is providing the education; it should also provide a direct path to that first job out of college, right? And that job had better pay enough (regardless of the field) so that they can afford their current lifestyle! That’s the way it should work, isn’t it?

Unfortunately, that is not reality today. Here’s how it works. 

Finding a job – particularly a job you will like and one that will match your skills and interests – is a process. Like any process (for example, trying to lose weight or training for a marathon), it requires planning, personal accountability, time investment, networking, discipline and focus. It takes a lot more than “wanting to” to get a job. It takes action.

It’s easy to say “I want a good job when I graduate.” It’s hard to define what that means to you. Purposeful planning, networking, entrepreneurial thinking and follow-through can help you get that ideal job. It takes starting early.

We in Career Services can’t get you a job, but we can help you get a job. 
As we get ready to start a new academic year, I want to share with our incoming students, our returning students, alumni and our CWU parents the following quick summary of what we in Career Services can, can’t, will and won’t do to assist students in making the transition from Central to the workplace.

What Career Services Can and Cannot Do
We can (and do) market our services to students and encourage them to take advantage of the career services availablebut we cannot force students to use Career Services.
Career counseling, (as in selecting a major/minor), career assessments, career workshops, managing internships, hosting recruiters to campus and organizing career fairs and events is a sketch of what we do. We cannot force students to use our services. We offer services that are relevant to students at all stages of their education, so Career Services is relevant to all students. We are ready to help. All you have to do is ask! Visit Bouillon 206. Call 509-963-1921 for an appointment or email us:career@cwu.edu.

We can (and do) help students explore, prepare for and evaluate their employment optionsbut we cannot place students into specific jobs.
It sure would be nice (and would certainly be easy) if students could walk into Career Services just before graduation and choose a job from a menu of opportunities prepared exclusively for them. Unfortunately, getting a job is not as easy as ordering dinner. By law, Career Services staff cannot select candidates or make hiring decisions on behalf of employers; employers have to make these hiring decisions themselves, and that means that students have to be prepared to apply for jobs and professionally present their qualifications in interviews. We wouldn’t want someone else choosing a job for us; we would want to be a part of that process.

We can (and do) market CWU students to employers and work hard to build recruiting relationships with employersbut we cannot force employers to come to campus and recruit for the types of jobs all students want.
Employers recruit on college campuses when they need to. If they can generate a sufficient number of qualified candidates for their job opportunities without physically coming to campus, they usually won’t come to campus. And, employers that do recruit on college campuses do not necessarily go to all college campuses, recruit to fill all types of positions, or recruit all majors. Lastly, on-campus interviewing is not the only tool employers use to recruit entry-level talent from colleges and universities. As a job seeker, your job is to research and understand the hiring dynamics of the industries you wish to enter and adjust your job search strategies to your industry. We actively recruit employers and host career fairs and virtual events throughout the year. Our students can also attend career fairs at other colleges. Check out our career services online calendar.

We can (and do) help students identify and pursue jobs that match their skills and interests, but we cannot help students pursue jobs that match their skills and interests if they can’t identify their skills and interests or have not done the work.
This is the toughest part! Once you select your major, you’re not “there.” In order to find a job you will enjoy and one that will match your skills, experience and other qualifications, you have to spend some time identifying and articulating your likes and dislikes and identifying your skills, strengths and interests. If you can’t describe your likes and dislikes or identify your skills and interests, how will you be able to know when you find a job that is compatible with them? By the way – this usually isn’t an overnight, easy process, and it does take time and commitment on your part. Completing an internship will help you better define what you want and don’t want in a permanent position. If you complete an internship, you are far more likely to get a satisfying job within your career path, perhaps even with the company where you interned. Career Services counselors can help you research internship opportunities with recruiters, through: informational interviews, using our Wildcat Career Network Job and Internship Database and by attending local and state career events. We also have a book of former internship sites located in our 204M office. Start your research early!

What Career Services Will and Won’t Do
We advise and assist students in planning and crafting effective resumes and critique drafts of resumes,
 but we will not write resumes for students.
Sorry, we won’t do this work for you. We have some great resources on resume writing including a lot of resume samples in our Barge 202 and 204M office as well as online, but you have to prepare your initial resume yourself. We do offer resume critiques and conduct resume workshops. You can also email us your resume for review. We can review resumes that students send to us through career@cwu.edu or you can bring your resume into our offices. All resume formats are not created equal, so we don’t recommend using the resume templates in MS Word. What might make sense for an aviation student probably doesn’t make sense for an advertising student. There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all resume. Your resume is your marketing document. Treat it like one!

A great resume and cover letter does not automatically get you the job. The next step in the job process is securing the interview. Participate in a mock interview in Barge 204M to sharpen your skills. The more practice in interviewing, the better prepared you are. Mock interviews build confidence!

We will help students understand and evaluate the pros and cons of different job opportunitiesbut we will not tell students which job offers to accept or reject.
Want help understanding the various pros and cons of different job opportunities? Want to know what questions to ask? Want an unbiased perspective of your options? We will give you that. We just want you to make a sound and informed career decision; a good decision for you!

We will contact employers on behalf of all CWU students, but we will not contact employers on behalf of individual students exclusively.
Sorry, we are not job search agents. We won’t contact employers with your resume trying to convince them that you are a great candidate worthy of consideration. We legally can’t recommend individual students to employers. We work on behalf of all students and alumni at Central. We do a lot of employer relationship building in order to make employers aware of the recruiting services we offer and the talents and qualifications CWU students possess. Seriously, log into Wildcat Career Network (WCN) and search the employer and jobs/internships database as well as our job search links. We reach out to many employers, and a lot of employers use our recruiting services, but you have to apply and you have to close the deal. We can help you with salary negotiation, professionalism, and transition from college to the workplace. 

We will help students evaluate whether or not graduate school makes sense as a next career stepbut we will not tell students whether or not they should go to graduate school.
“The job market is so bad, I think I’ll go to grad school to wait out the economy” is a lousy reason for going to graduate school, particularly if it is your only reason. The grad school decision is an important one, and one you should not take lightly. What do you want to study and why? Where are the best programs of study in that field? How will the graduate degree make you more marketable to employers? What types of employers will find you more valuable with a graduate degree? These are all really important questions. We can help you answer them. Come in to our office to discuss your ideas. If you’re definitely applying for graduate school, come in to review your resume/CV and Statement of Purpose. We want you to make a good decision; an informed, sound decision that makes sense to you.

The start of a new school year is full of excitement, energy, uncertainty and hope! There is no place on earth as vibrant as a college campus at the start of the fall semester – everything feels possible; almost everything is possible. We, in Career Services, can’t think of anywhere else we’d rather be.

Turning employment possibilities into reality takes a lot of work, perseverance and intent. It doesn’t just happen. When it comes to exploring and pursuing your career options, the Career Services team is ready to help.

You just have to ask! Please set up an appointment at 509-963-1921 and come in to see us.

Welcome Back!

(adapted from Matt Berndt, University of Texas through NACE LinkedIn and the Wall Street Journal)