PLANNING FOR THE FUTURE: CAREER SERVICES AT SHEPHERD
Most students are primarily concerned with getting through school and graduating on time. However, it is never too soon to start planning for the future and what lies beyond commencement day. Accordingly, Career Services is an excellent resource for students to take advantage of right here on campus.
"Students should visit the center as early as their first year to help with the career planning process because it begins when you start college," said Betsy Sheets, director of Career Services.
Career Services provides multiple tools to help aid students with their future such as writing and developing resumes and cover letters, job searching, career fairs, internships, co-ops, interview tips, and assistance with the graduate school application process said Sheets.
A Strong Resume
Developing a strong resume is key in a student's success said Sheets. In addition, it can be tailored to specifically fit the student's goals and career aspirations. "If they know exactly what job they're seeking, then we gear their resume exactly to that particular job," Sheets said. She also provides a worksheet to begin the process of thinking about what the student has done during his or her college career that could be added to a resume. Once this is completed, a professional resume is formatted. While Sheets prefers to meet in person because the student gets more out of a one-on-one appointment, it is also possible to work via e-mail on such things as resume critiques.
Taking advantage of internship opportunities can also be beneficial. "Internships are a vital way to gain experience and network with others so that you can make connections with others when you complete your college career. Students who don't take advantage of this often struggle when they graduate because they don't have any experience and information on their resume," said Sheets.
She also strongly recommends that students attend one of the numerous career fairs that are offered throughout the year to assist in finding the right job.
The Shepherd University CareerFest, which is held in the fall, is an event where students have the option of dressing casually to gain experience and exposure at a job fair or dressing professionally when seriously seeking a job. "We don't promote that as a professional type of job fair because a lot of students want to get a taste of what a job fair is like, so they want to go from class to the fair and don't want to dress professionally," said Sheets. Seventeen employers were on site for the fair in October. Sheets also said that the fair is a great way for students to learn about volunteer opportunities, internships, and co-ops.
Another popular event is the Cumberland Valley Consortium teacher fair hosted in the fall at Gettysburg College. "This past October, when Shepherd visited the fair, we had the highest number of students to attend, which was great because our students had the farthest distance to commute there," said Sheets.
There is also the Health and Human Services Fair that held in November. This fair is focused toward the nursing department. Local employers as well as those from the D.C. and Northern Virginia area attend to recruit new employees.
Other fairs and events that Career Services offers include the CVC Job and Intern Fair held in February, a teacher recruitment day for education majors who are getting ready to graduate in March, and a virtual job fair held online from May to the end of July.
Students who are feeling the pressure of choosing a major and a minor should take advantage of FOCUS, which operates as an online interest assessment tool for students who don't know where they want their career to go. It helps students become aware of their skills and interests and matches them with appropriate career options. While some students often want to remain an undecided major for a while to complete their general studies requirements, it typically narrows things down for their future decisions, Sheets said. Taking the time to do this can often prove to be extremely beneficial when students enter the workforce as well. "We find that those who can focus on the interests they have end up enjoying their jobs and the work that they're doing," said Sheets.
The interviewing process also plays a key role in landing the career a student wants. "Being well-prepared for an interview comes across as soon as you meet the interviewer," said Sheets. She feels that body language, eye contact, and appropriate posture are extremely important. One thing that can help is to practice. "Everyone gets nervous, at least to some extent, with an interview so practicing is very important," said Sheets, who has a plethora of handouts and tidbits of information regarding things students should and should not do during interviews. She can also do mock interviews and provide videotapes that students can sign out and take home. In addition, specific question that are typically asked by employers and questions that students should be asking the interviewer are available.
Students who are approaching graduation also have a few things to consider that career services can assist with. According to the "Game Plan for Graduation," a handout available from Sheets, seniors should decide what the time frame of their job search is going to be or when they want to obtain the job. They also need to think about where they plan on living, what jobs are available in that area, the salary they are looking for, and what jobs are available.
Professors Are Resources
Sheets also stresses the importance of students utilizing their professors. "Use your faculty members as a resource because not only do they teach in the field but a lot of them have also worked in the field that they are teaching in, so they have great networks with other employers or colleagues that can be helpful." Another word of advice she offers is to not wait until the last minute to obtain letters of recommendation because students may have difficulty doing so once they graduate.
In addition, students should be aware of the various workshops that are offered in areas including resume writing, interview skills, correspondence, and networking. To take part, students need to call Career Services or send an e-mail. If a student doesn't want to attend a workshop, an individual appointment can be made as well Sheets said.
Help for Alumni
If you're one of those students who discovered after graduation that putting off thinking about your future career perhaps wasn't such a good idea, help is still available. "I see a lot of alumni shortly after they graduate needing assistance," said Sheets, who also noted that all services are open to both current students and alumni as well.
Career Services is located on the ground floor of Gardiner Hall. For additional information, call 304-876-5122, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or log online to http://www.shepherd.edu/jobweb/index.htm.