If you are anything like me, you are pretty darn busy this week. Midterms + Thesis?? Yikes!! So in keeping with the spirit of the week, I will try to keep this first blog post short and sweet. In this post, I wanted to highlight the importance of visiting Career Services at least once before graduation, particularly if you don’t have your plans for life beyond the FitzRandolph Gate figured out (if you do, congratulations!!!). Below are some of the most common reasons students give for not visiting Career Services, followed by my comments on how visiting Career Services would actually be beneficial for these students:
- “I have no idea what I want to do after graduation, so coming in to Career Services would be unproductive.” – Not at all! On the contrary, Career Services can help you figure out what types of industries & jobs you are a good fit for. Career Services offers a variety of self-assessments and career inventories that can help you identify your interests, strengths, and work environment preference (http://www.princeton.edu/career/alumni/career-planning/career-inventories/). These assessments are always followed up by a one-hour conversation with a counselor to interpret the results. Beyond these formal assessments, the counselors at Career Services also have years of experience, empathy, and above all, honest advice to share with students. I know from personal experience that meeting with counselors and brainstorming about potential areas of interest can be a powerful tool in helping to identify what you feel passionate about – it was through the advice of one of the counselors, who motivated me to “pursue my interests and seek a job in the industry that you are passionate about” that I decided to make the transition from financial services to technology consulting for my full-time job, and I couldn’t be any happier about my decision.
- “I already know what I want to do after graduation, so there is nothing for me to gain from Career Services.” – If you already have a game plan in mind for life after graduation, that’s great! But this is only the first of many steps. The vast majority of full-time positions require you to submit a resume (http://www.princeton.edu/career/graduates/toolkit2/resumes/resume-tips/) in order for your candidacy to be considered, and many employers also require you to include a cover letter (http://www.princeton.edu/career/alumni/job_search/cover-letters/). From personal experience, I can say that it is almost impossible to put together the perfect resume or cover letter on your first go. Even if you have a 4.0 GPA, are heavily involved in numerous interesting extracurricular activities, and speak 10 languages fluently, it is likely that some employers will throw your resume or cover letter out if it is poorly formatted or undersells your experiences. The career counselors at Career Services can help you overcome these potential pitfalls and put together the perfect resume & cover letter so that you can give potential future employers the best possible first impression.
- “Career Services can only help students interested in certain industries.” – This is not true at all. The career counselors at Career Services have years of expertise in advising students interested in a wide range of different industries (http://www.princeton.edu/career/about_us/meet_our_staff/). Moreover, they are willing to go out of their way to help students, even when they are not directly familiar with the industries at hand. Although none of the career counselors knew about microfinance or internships in Chile during my internship search in sophomore year, they went out of their way to do research on the field in order to give me some pointers to make sure I could submit a solid application. Furthermore, a friend who wanted to find a summer internship in China for the summer after graduation ended up finding one through suggestions put forth by a Career Services counselor. No matter what your area of interest is, counselors at Career Services are committed to helping you succeed in your job hunt.
- “It’s too late in the year to go in/ I don’t have time/ I will figure it out by myself after I graduate.” – It’s not too late. You can spare 30 minutes. And will you really be able to find a job with no one’s help? The numbers say otherwise. One of the things that impressed me the most about working at Career Services over the past 3 years is the great number of young alums who call to ask for help in finding a job or consolidating other post-graduation plans. While these graduates typically have different areas of interest, nearly all of them share one striking similarity – prior to that phone call, they had never interacted with Career Services. Coincidence? I think not. To be sure, career counselors are always happy to speak with and help Princeton alumni. However, it’s undeniable that it is much more difficult to build rapport and develop a strong relationship with a counselor if your interactions are limited to over-the-phone conversations. Furthermore, it goes without saying that editing resumes and cover letters is a task that is done much more easily face-to-face. By meeting with a career counselor before leaving Princeton, you can avoid the hurdles that accompany starting the job hunt after leaving life in the Orange Bubble.
So there you have it, seniors. There’s really no reason to procrastinate getting your job hunt off to a good start. Close out of Facebook, get off PrincetonFML, and stop watching Jenna Marbles videos. Making an appointment is super easy – just call Career Services at 609-258-3325 or schedule online at www.princeton.edu/career. Alternatively, come to walk-in hours from 3-5 PM Mondays through Fridays (the sign-up sheet goes out at 2:45 PM, so I suggest getting there a bit early). Look forward to your calls!
P.S. In the coming weeks, Career Services will be sending a preliminary survey to the senior class to get a sense of where their career interests and plans are at this point. The primary purpose of this survey is to better understand the needs of the senior class so that counselors can address them more efficiently in the coming months. Seniors, this is your chance to communicate with Career Services and let them know what YOU need help with so that they can be better equipped to help – don’t pass it up! Be sure to complete the survey when it comes out.