Promotional pens with miniature insignias. Stickers decorated in phone, fax and address numbers. Flyers saying “Join our team!” and “This could be you!”
Pacific University’s fall Work and Service fair coordinates not only a place to pick up all of these entertaining knick-knacks, but career opportunities for eager students. But what happens when the streamers are down and booths are long gone? Are students prepared to navigate the world of work-study, internships and job hunting?
“If students were able to make it to the fair and are looking to follow up, there’s a whole list of the visiting groups who were here on our webpage,” says Melissa Vieira, Internship Coordinator and Academic & Career Advisor.
In fact, the Career Development Center’s webpage might be the best place for non-attendees to visit as well. With pages of helpful information, the center’s site can connect students to their upcoming campus events, their Pathway Program and work-study / job opportunities both on and off campus, according to Vieira.
As it becomes more common for college students to maintain early careers and attend school at the same time, even after the Career Development Center’s job fair some students are still feeling the pressure of balancing it all.
“There were a couple marketing opportunities and social media positions I was interested in at the fair,” said Pacific senior Emma Agger. “I took different flyers from about five people because I was excited and intrigued, but I feel like I don’t really have time for much.”
However, the center has made recent changes to its outreach that may ease the stress of students like Agger who might feel like they’re struggling to manage it all. The center, instead of focusing on specific majors, now works with “clusters” that follow similar career trajectories to advise students and set them up with opportunities beyond Pacific.
With eight clusters in total — Arts, Communications & Entertainment; Business, Finance & Logistics; Education; Life Sciences & Health; Public & Human Services; STEM, Environment & Natural Resources; and Still Deciding — a series of career preparedness events are hosted each month focused on one at a time, lead by that cluster’s advisor.
“It’s a better way for us to reach more students and get them the outreach they might not have received from such specialized, major-specific events,” Vieira said. “Now we’re having students self-select into one of the career clusters and targeting them with specialized skills programming month by month.”
For students who feel too busy during the fall to take up career building due to athletics, Vieira says not to worry. Though some internships and work-study positions fill up quickly at the beginning of the year, availability opens up with the start of a new semester as students’ schedules shift and new opportunities present themselves.
For this reason, among others, Vieira and Work-Study Coordinator Erin Robbins, also urge students to set up a Handshake account to keep up with job postings specific to the university. Robbins currently runs the account and tries to ensure new opportunities and updated information is always made available to students through the career-building platform.
“This year we’re trying to be very proactive about getting information like Handshake and the new career cluster programming into students’ inboxes,” Vieira said. “Ultimately, students just need to figure out which career advisor fits their studies best, pay attention to incoming information and not hesitate to ask questions.”
Above all Vieira stresses that opportunities are everywhere if you have the right resources and plan in place. She hopes students aren’t intimidated by the Career Development Center as the team’s only goal is “to serve students and make sure they’re getting to the places they want to be professionally.”
Even the College of Arts and Sciences dean, Sarah Phillips, wishes to remind students their nerves over career uncertainty is actually the biggest obstacle at play.
“What’s most important is that students actually ask for help,” Phillips said. “The only real mistake students can make is letting their anxiety about [finding a job] stop them from doing something about it.”
Vieira and Phillips both want to assure students that those at the Career Development Center are more than willing and prepared to help even the most uncertain of students.
“We’re full service,” Vieira says. “The center can help students anywhere from undecided and still choosing a major to gaining experience and launching a career.”
As the career center continues their work setting up students with work-study jobs, internships and additional off-campus opportunities, more resources can be found on their website at pacificu.edu/academics/academic-support/career-development-center. Next month the Business, Finance & Logistics cluster will take center stage with a variety of different events held throughout October.