The most recent survey of college career centers by the National Association of Colleges and Educators makes it pretty clear that the more students engage with their college’s career center, the more likely they are to gain employment. Twenty-six percent of college seniors who often used their center found a job, compared with 19 percent overall.
It is less clear that these centers are able to directly connect students with jobs on any kind of consistent basis. And common sense tells us that students who utilize the career center are likely to be more actively pursuing a job than the average student.
But, at least according to many career center staffers, it may be helpful to work in the reverse. They may not be able to find you a job, but they can better prepare you if you do show up.
“We don’t use carrots or sticks to get you to come in,” says Vicky Sawyer, a career counselor at Washington College in Maryland. “A good counselor follows your lead. But I can walk you through the fear factor.”
Sawyer says she meets with students for at minimum 30 minutes per session (a good standard to hold your college center to). She also does some very simple things that “the fear factor” can prevent students from doing on their own, such as basic searches of the Bureau of Labor Statistics website (an excellent resource for students). But even though students can do much of this research on their own, her goal is to create a dialogue, and most career center staffers agree this is the key objective.
“It takes practice to articulate what you’re good at,” says Sawyer. “You can only get so far thinking this stuff through on your own.”