As a Pacific graduate and Director of the Career Development Center, I know the pressures students feel to engage in academics, extra-curricular, athletics, community building and so forth, while also taking steps to launch a successful career and life after graduation. I’d like to invite all students to reduce this pressure by asking us for help. We know student lives are hectic and harried and we are humbled by the many students who, frequently on top of earning top grades and despite relentless schedules, are routinely distinguishing themselves in athletics, debate, research projects and a myriad of other endeavors.
Part of what I and my co-workers love about our roles are that we so often see our efforts rewarded; we see the good we do—the jobs, internships, graduate admissions and career direction—that students and graduates obtain. Student success stories are exhilarating and validating of the Pacific experience. Almost invariably, people who obtain career success advise, or exemplify, working hard, setting goals, being true to themselves, preparing for the unexpected and nurturing relationships through networking.
Yes, we will say that networking—reaching out to others for ideas, information and advice—is essential to launching your career. You may know this, while feeling you don’t know how to do it. One goal of networking you may not be thinking of is to create a growing cadre of advocates—people who know and think highly of you, who can push opportunities and contacts toward you. Family and friends may already be doing some of this, with professors contributing, too. Your career advisers can and will do the same and more.
Aleah Steinzeig’s Feb. 16 article in The Pacific Index about her amazing MFA residency internship beautifully validates our best career advice. She engaged in a passion, worked hard, learned, was surprised and connected meaningfully with people who share her interests in writing. Her next career step will be easier now, as that MFA internship is a gold star on her resume. She probably also became more comfortable with career networking and undoubtedly the experience helped refine her career goals and shape further steps.
The insight available there is too important not to state outright: engaging mindfully in career development activities—from resume writing to practicing interviewing to participating in networking events—clarifies who you are, who you want to be and what you feel meant or called to do, or at least what you enjoy and would like to do, if the idea of a calling is too deterministic. It’s also exhilarating and liberating, like the liberal arts education itself. I see it over and over again: students bring me resumes for a “quick once-over” and then exit the process with a whole new sense of clarity and focus around career direction, which translates into confidence and readiness to engage the world of opportunities and more importantly, the people through which they’ll access those opportunities.
Just as Aleah Steinzeig envisioned the MFA internship to be one thing and found it to exceed that preconception in ways she hadn’t expected, so will many students thinking of the CDC as a place for a brief service such as a resume critique find it to be a launch pad to new insights and confidence that will allow them to build on and leverage their Pacific experience in extraordinary pursuits after graduation. If you’re putting off “choosing a career,” or avoiding “the networking thing,” it may be because those steps are just too daunting to contemplate. It’s okay to sidestep them and instead set your sights lower. All students really need is a next step, not a final one. Please take a look at our resources, such as the March 2 First Avenue Career Fair at olapcfirstavenue.org, join the Pacific University group at linkedin.com and contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for an appointment to let us contribute to your story.