5 Tips for Every Career-Conscious College Student

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College students: Do your pesky parents insist on caring about your career? Do they ask you about your career plans every time you’re home from college? Well, lucky for you, the fact that school is starting up again means you don’t need to worry about the real world for another two-and-a-half more months. But then Thanksgiving comes and it’s back to 20 questions with your nosy family!

I’m a career counselor and here to help you with some tips that are guaranteed to get you on the path to employment faster, and hopefully put your bothersome parents at ease:

1. Go to Your College’s Career Center

Career Services, Career Development – whatever it may be called on your campus, it’s definitely stop #1 when trying to find a career path. Ask the career counselor you meet with what jobs pay the highest. When they say finance, ask him or her why they didn’t go into that.

They will respond with something like, “Well, I didn’t have a passion for that” and then you respond with, “Really? Your passion is career counseling? You like sitting in this cubicle all day, in the middle of campus, in some sort of sick Groundhog Day world where every single day you’re forced to see young, ambitious, attractive college students who still have a glimmer of hope in following their dreams? THIS? THIS IS WHAT YOU ARE PASSIONATE ABOUT?!”

And they’ll, in most cases, say, “Well, I thought I’d be like, Assistant Dean or something by now.” Clearly they thought wrong but now, a master’s degree in higher education later, they’re fully invested and locked in to a job debating font style on resumes with students who don’t even know how to format their telephone numbers correctly.

You know, maybe your career counselor got into this job during the recession and it was the only thing available, but really they wanted to work in something fun like Student Activities where you get to put on “Fun on the Quad Day” and totally ignore the Career Services staff. THEY COULD HELP YOU KNOW AND MAYBE THEY’D ENJOY THE BREAK FROM THE MONOTONY OF TELLING THE 9TH PERSON IN A ROW THAT TEN-POINT IS THE SMALLEST FONT YOU CAN USE ON YOUR RESUME.

2. Attend the Career Fair on Campus

Career fairs are a great place to talk to a variety of employers and find out the different career paths available to you. You might even see your career counselor there joking with each representative.

“Wow!” he might say. “The job you’re hiring for sounds great. Maybe I’ll apply! Haha.” But deep down he’s serious and accidentally leaves his resume behind, which he swears he just uses to show students what a finished resume looks like. But you know what? Go ahead and keep it. Maybe you’ll find you need someone who has a little experience with a lot of potential.

Also, the swag at careers fairs is pretty good. You probably noticed your career counselor jogging with those Wells Fargo ear buds he picked up at the career fair, trying to convince women he works there. He’s silly!

3. Do a Mock Interview or Two for Practice

If you go into your first real interview dry, you’re going to flop. It’s a fact, Jack! Avoid it by scheduling a mock interview with your career counselor. He’ll let you know about any nervous ticks you haven’t noticed, and whether your answers are strong.

Actually, you know what? He’ll just tell you about the nervous ticks, because if he knew what made an answer strong he probably would have utilized that knowledge during the 500 interviews he did at the height of the recession before enrolling in a Masters of Higher Education program. He would have landed his dream job and HE’D be the one interviewing you for real, not doing a fake interview with you in the basement of the student union.

4. Discover What Matters Most to You

Seek out careers that fit your value system. For some people, it’s a job with financial security. Others look for a rewarding job they can pour themselves into. But hey, maybe at the end of the day all you care about is having a few close friends you can hang out with on the weekends. If you thought about that earlier, maybe you wouldn’t have taken that career counseling job at Dakota College at Bottineau in the fucking middle of goddamn nowhere because it looked like a real “growth opportunity.” Everyone in North Dakota works in the natural gas industry. We have, like, 2% unemployment in this state…why do we even NEED a career counselor? Maybe I could host open mic nights and if anyone’s up for it we could jam together, or just watch a movie.

5. Polish Up that Resume

Your resume is an advertisement for YOU. Put your best foot forward with a professional, sleek-looking resume that details your accomplishments. Did you take on a leadership position with a campus club? That’s a great resume builder! Wow, you are treasurer for your Geology Club? How on Earth do you manage the dozens of dollars the student activities office bequeathed to you? You know, they think they’re the hot-shit staff on campus but I heard they aren’t that cool and they never respond to text messages.

And it’s as easy as that! Follow these five simple steps and you’ll be on a path to some career doing something I’m sure. Be sure to follow up with your career counselor on your progress. And, just for silly fun, forward him any job openings for someone with a little experience. Haha! Wouldn’t it be funny if we worked together and like, became friends? That’d be something!



Michael Fortier

Author: Michael Fortier

Michael works at a college and writes about higher education. He is not to be confused with former Canadian Minister of International Trade Michael Fortier, but if they were to meet, they would definitely have a good laugh over being "two real MFers."

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