Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Career Center provides students with job search resources

By Courtney Westlake and Portia Kerr-Newman (Southeast High School senior)

Graduation, not to mention summer vacation, is looming in the very near future, and many students are still unsure of their plans, either for the next few months or for a full-time career path.

From numerous web-based programs to assistance in discovering an ideal career match, the Career Development Center at UIS is packed with resources for those involved in the job search process.

The Career Development Center offers a variety of quality services that use both online and face-to-face methods of service delivery. Career counseling is a primary service at the center, but they also offer assistance for those looking at career options, gaining experience, preparing for a job search, deciding about graduate school or making a career transition.

"The Career Center helps students with being prepared for job interviews," said Tammy Craig, director of the center. "It gives students the knowledge on how to wear the proper attire, impress the employer, and give a good first impression."

Many times, students believe the Career Development Center is only on campus for resume help and job searches, but the center's primary service is to teach career development as lifelong process.

"We want to educate students in their first and second years in order to really help them understand that whole process, so they can have plenty of time to prepare for careers and to set goals, so they will be successful when they transition into workforce," Craig said.

The Career Development Center also provides workshops and events like "Dress for Success," where students modeled the do's and don'ts of dressing for an interview or putting on a reality show that was a take-off of the actual reality television show called The Career Pursuit.

One of the center's newest features is called the GOALS program. People don't always like to read or be lectured to, so the center has incorporated YouTube videos, podcasts, worksheets and more to meet individuals' needs and provide a tool that faculty can incorporate into their courses.

"The feedback we hear from students is that they may not be able to come in and devote the time they need to, so we wanted to engage students, staff and faculty to help in the career development process and to integrate that into the curriculum or extracurricular activities," Craig said. "This goes back to the justification of starting early."

Due largely in part to the growth of UIS' online population, the Career Center has adapted all of their on-campus services to some method of online delivery service, Craig said. A tool called UIS-Success, a top resource used at the center, allows students to view job postings and internships profiles and to upload resumes, and another program, called FOCUS, offers career and personality tests where students can go online and take a test to help them find their perfect career match.

And because 80 to 90 percent of open jobs aren't even posted on sites like Monster or CareerBuilder, the Career Search program serves as an international job post for employees seeking jobs at companies that might not have a known posting.

The center also offers personality assessments to help students to decide exactly what they want to do in life, and the Perfect Interview program helps those students who haven't had a lot interview experience or have interview anxiety.

In addition to the abundance of job-related resources at the Career Development Center, Craig offered several pieces of advice for graduating seniors and others currently searching for a job. Of utmost importance is to make a good first impression and prepare before the interview, she said.

"I would highly recommend that you research the company thoroughly so you know what your strengths are and how you can contribute to the company," Craig said. "The more diversified your skill sets are, the better off you are. It's really knowing the company, knowing what your skills sets are and knowing how to articulate that to a recruiter."

Craig said a major concern the Career Development Center hears from recruiters is that students need to be proactive and know what they want.

"Know yourself," Craig advised. "If you don't really know what type of career or job position you want to pursue, then how can you expect to describe that in an interview with a potential employer? If you are still undecided or don't know what you can do with your degree, come see us because there is nothing worse that to partake in an interview when the recruiter asks questions and you aren't able to articulate what you want."