Unsure of what areas of study to pursue? Petrified of graduation? Any student who may be thinking they’re destined to merely float along arbitrarily during college and remain unsure of where they belong in the scheme of things, think again!
St. John’s Career Center is one of the University’s greatest, yet most hidden, strengths, as much of the student body is unaware of the array of invaluable services this facility offers. Designed to function as a “guiding light” for all students, the Career Center’s objective is to assist in both the locating of talents and abilities and the understanding of how to apply academic experience to the job market, effectively preparing for and launching students into career advancement. In other words, it is NOT purely an office with binders full of internship openings, but a place that offers one-on-one support from friendly, knowledgeable career experts to students from all majors, or lack thereof. Among some of the Career Center’s numerous resources available to students are career search workshops, job searching strategies, resume writing, and networking events, all of which are broken down into two main categories – Career Development and Employment Opportunities.
The Career Development area of the Program focuses on engaging students to assess their interests and skills in order to pursue the profession that best fits their personality. Along with the “How to Choose a Major” Workshop and individual appointments with counselors to obtain a career assessment, Assistant Director Michelle Lynn Kyriakides stresses the necessity that students become well-informed about the careers they are considering, and this can be made possible through both the Mentoring Program and the Shadowing Experience.
“We match up the student with a professional in the field they are interested in for either a day in the Mentoring Program or a week in the Shadowing Experience, so the student can see what the environment is truly like,” said Kyriakides. “Through teaching a student how to utilize what they learn in the classroom, it bridges his or her academic background to the actual world. Probably the most valuable lesson I learned in college was what I didn’t want to do, and this experience helps students narrow down their options through hands-on experience.”
The COACH program is another exceptional resource that students can use to determine whether an industry matches their skills and interests. The purpose of this program, which stands for Count on Alumni for Career Help, is to gain advice through communication with professionals who are also St. John’s alumni in the field you are interested in. Through registering with MonsterTrak, the Career Center’s online resource, students can gain access to the profiles and contact information of the alumni mentors, thus giving them the opportunity to search the majors, clubs, and activities they were members of during college and actually contact them with questions about the field.
“The student will never get the true idea of a career until they can get a real-life perspective,” said Kyriakides. “The student can ask the alumni personal questions about how rewarding their career is, such as, ‘What do you enjoy about this field? What do you dislike? If you could, would you do it all over again, or into a different profession?'”
And not only will the Career Center assist you in finding your ideal position, but they will also seek to sharpen your skills for tackling tricky tasks like finding an internship, marketing yourself during an interview and perfecting your resume. With the goal of teaching you how to make a memorable impression on the target company, the Employment Opportunities area of the Career Center will meet with students and conduct mock interviews in suites built just for this purpose and then offer students strategies to better answer the questions they were unsure of-all while being filmed!
“We turn a video camera on before beginning the interview, and then ask students questions about where they see themselves in five years, why they are interested in this position, what their greatest weakness is, etc,” said Kyriakides. “We then review the tape together to critique the response of the student. Did they appear confident? Did they maintain eye contact? How did they answer the questions? It is an incredible, eye-opening experience and one I wish I had had while I was in college.”
After teaching you how to present your skills to a prospective employer in an attractive manner, a student in their senior year will be able to take advantage of the Campus Recruiting Program, which allows real-life employers to actually come to campus and recruit students for full-time positions at their company.
Associate Director of Corporate Relations Thomas J. Ward coordinates this aspect of the Career Center, setting up on-campus opportunities for students to meet with company representatives. A workshop called “Career Conversations” is being held on Wednesday, November 7, and Ward emphasizes that this, along with every other service, is ideal for learning about employment opportunities and geared towards the entire student population.
“The thrust of Career Conversations is a brown bag luncheon/open discussion in which company reps come to campus to speak about internships, and the student has the chance to actually talk with them,” said Ward.
“Disney recently came to campus to talk about creative writing, graphic design and directing.”
To make it easier to get on the “right track,” the Career Center has recently formed a program entitled Focus on Real Experience and Employment, or F.R.E.E., in which students progress through three different tracks of career preparation.
Level I is the Intern TRAK, Level II is the Jobs TRAK, and Level III is the Career Management TRAK. Each have ten different requirements, such as MonsterTRAK registration, Resume Writing Workshops and Networking with 3 COACHes.
Other events include the Internship Extravaganza, which is an informal round table with alumni from different organizations discussing the importance of internships, and the Spring Job Fair, which takes place in April.
“The main message of all of these services is that the Career Center is meant for ALL students,” said Ward. “Whether you’re a liberal arts major or a student athlete, or both, we’re here to serve everyone.”