Most, if not all, college students share the same goal. Upon completing their degrees, if not going on to attain even higher levels of education, they want to pursue careers. Most colleges and universities have a career services office, which may be alternatively called a career center, career placement office, or career office.
Regardless of the name, this office provides a variety of services to help students (and often alumni) meet that goal. Here are some basic services you can expect from your college's career services office.
If you are shopping around for a college, you may want to make sure yours provides these services.
Career Decision Making
A counselor at the career services office can help you choose a career, whether you have no idea about what you want to do or are leaning toward a particular occupation. He or she will use self-assessment tools to examine your values, personality, interests, and abilities and then, based on the results, either suggest some possible options or help you figure out if the career you have in mind is suitable for you. The career counselor also will help you decide what academic major will help you meet your goals.
Resume and Cover Letter Writing
Career services offices help students write their resumes and cover letters. They often conduct workshops and provide one-on-one sessions during which they critique resumes and cover letters.
Job Interview Prep
Career services offices usually sponsor workshops to help you learn how to present yourself well in a job interview, from what to wear, to what questions to expect. They sometimes provide mock interviewing sessions where you can practice your skills. Mock interviews can go a very long way to making you feel prepared for real interviews, and will at least help you feel a bit less nervous.
Career services offices host job fairs during which employers visit the campus to recruit students who are about to graduate.
The offices sometimes maintain student files containing letters of recommendation from faculty, which they can then forward to potential employers and graduate schools upon the student's request.
Students can access a college's career management system or job portal to look at employment and internship listings, register for workshops and schedule appointments with counselors and on-campus recruiters. They can also upload resumes into a searchable database which employers can then use to recruit applicants.
Career services offices may help undergraduate students decide whether graduate school is a viable option based on their career aspirations and their performance in college. They can assist students in choosing an appropriate program.
Career services also should be able to help you find networking events, where you can connect with professionals in your potential career. Alumni, especially, want to help students connect with opportunities and are willing to provide advice and possible connections to those making the hiring decisions at their companies.
While there's probably a separate office that handles internships, career counseling centers often work hand-in-hand with companies seeking college interns and internship advisers. It can't hurt to ask about any potential internship opportunities.