By Katie Ward
A 2015 Cengage Learning study found that 80% of college seniors said that finding a job post-graduation is their primary goal. With the 21st century job market constantly evolving, it is hard for students to feel confident in their job search after graduation. The Office of Career Services at Catholic University of America recognizes this and has recently made some changes and planned events to further help and prepare students searching for jobs.
With the Career Fair in mind, Career Services planned several events to prepare students and their resumes for interactions with employers. They have also increased their staff and switched to a new partnership platform, Handshake, to better connect students with post-graduation opportunities.
The Office of Career Services has added two more counselors to the staff, and has added a Senior Associate Director for Employer Relations as well as a graduate student to their Employer Relations Team.
“All of this, and upgrading to a new system, has allowed us to get more opportunities for students. They can connect a little bit better,” said Tony Chiappetta, Director of Career Services at CUA.
The office also has eleven student Career Peer Advisors who help with marketing, advertising, and advising.
Senior Career Peer Advisor Jennifer Brown briefly explained the different aspects of her advising role. The Peer Advisors offer a more comfortable connection between students and the Career Services Office. “We also connect with residence halls and student organizations… so it’s kind of like connecting everyone together,” Brown said.
Junior Career Peer Advisor Liz Friden expressed how attending events like ‘How to Work a Career Fair’ help students look and feel more like young professionals. The event, organized by Career Services, intended to help students prepare their business casual attire and handshake for the big day.
“I feel much more confident going into the Career Fair tomorrow. As someone who has never attended a Career Fair or experienced anything like it, I did not know what to expect or how much to prepare,” said freshman Kathleen King. “‘How to Work a Career Fair’ provided me with tips for speaking with employers and what kind of questions to ask them.”
Career Services also offered two full-day resume review sessions on Wednesday and Thursday to help students with their resumes. “Some employers, if your resume is not correctly done, will just discard it and you’ve lost that opportunity on such a great internship,” Brown said. “So it’s always just a good way to get it polished, get it looked at; there’s always tweaks you can make, words you can change, formatting you can alter, just to make it visually appealing for the employer.”
There was also a table set up on the first floor of the Pryzbyla Center on Monday and Tuesday to inform students about the new career matching platform, Handshake. The table was staffed from 11AM-1PM each day by several of the eleven Career Peer Advisors.
Since its establishment in 2013, Handshake has grown to serve over 400 universities and over 8,000,000 students and alumni. Career Services is very excited about the switch to Handshake for this academic year.
When asked about the improvements of Handshake compared to the platform used in previous years, ‘Hire a Cardinal’, Brown expressed that it caters more to each individual student. “If I’m a media studies major, why am I looking at internships for finance or construction? So with Handshake you are allowed to have it more geared to your interests, so now all I see are media or journalism internships instead of those finance ones I saw before.”
The office of Career Services offered two big pieces of advice for those looking for a job: sign in to Handshake and show up to the Career Fair.
When asked about Handshake and the percentage of students on it, Chiappetta said that every student, as well as all alumni from the past few years, have been given an account, they only have to log in and start building their profile. Chiappetta expects more students to start developing their Handshake profile after experiencing the Career Fair.
“The employers that tend to be here are the employers that are looking for college students. So it’s not like LinkedIn where they’re looking for everybody. This is targeting undergraduate and graduate students in college. So you don’t need 15 years experience or anything like that,” Chiappetta said. He hopes that next year’s Career Fair will have even more employers than the eighty attending this year.
He added that even those that aren’t currently looking for a job, especially freshmen and sophomores, should still go to the Career Fair for the learning experience.
“Our employers know that they use it as a learning tool… You can come in and say, ‘Okay, I know you’re looking for a junior, but, as a freshman who’s going to be a major in such-and-such, what are things that you would want to see on my resume by junior year so that I can take that?’ And they tell you!”