As the festivities of college graduation wear off, you might be wondering: what’s next? This is an exciting– and terrifying – time in your career when everything is new.
The good news is that there are a lot of services out there to help. One you may not even be aware of is college career services. Most universities offer career services for recent grads, and most students can use career services to help them plan their education and develop a career path following graduation. These programs, like many, shifted during the pandemic from in-person services to remote options that have, to some extent, become detrimental to the service. Now as we emerge on the other side of the pandemic – for the most part – college career services are experiencing challenges as they embrace new trends for their services.
It’s all about connection.
The National Academic Advising Association states that these services are about connection and community. College career services involve the entire university, families, and employers. These groups create a network of connections for college students and grads. Technology allows resourceful go-getters to continue to build connections despite being unable to meet face-to-face. However, there is some debate as to whether genuine connections were made at the professional level between students and people in the workforce. In fact, a survey conducted by the Foster School of Business at the University of Washington showed that workers are far less effective at building relationships virtually. It can be implied the same would hold true for students and employers or their employees.
During the pandemic, virtual job fairs helped. Unfortunately, it’s not entirely clear whether those were successful. In one of the earlier virtual recruiting events at Montgomery College, only 20 students attended. The event coordinator found it useful to get students talking with employers. However, at the time, no job offers were made.
Evolving challenges with college career services.
Attending college solely in-person was changing even before the pandemic. More and more colleges and universities were offering remote classes – and the pandemic just sped up the process to include some fully remote degree options. With remote schooling, inherent challenges emerged in college career services including:
- Creating new marketing methods. Getting the word out about college services is challenging at best. Colleges will need to figure out new ways to “hang” flyers or communicate with their students.
- Embracing technology. Today’s students are tech natives; they’ve never known life without technology. They’re used to getting information instantly, and at their fingertips. Career services will need to adapt to the new generation of college students and adopt technology that will expand its reach.
- Building excitement and energy. An energy is created when you’re meeting and collaborating in person that is much harder to create in an online environment. Counselors will need to figure out how to encourage students to take risks and remain optimistic about future opportunities that align with their career path. Perhaps artificial intelligence and virtual reality will allow us to all do a hologram hangout in the future?
Trend setting in college career services.
There is a strong likelihood that recent college grads will face an increasingly competitive job market. With this, they need to be as prepared as possible when leaving college to become successful professionals. The future of college career services includes:
- Creating a broader network. Career services will need to cast a bigger network to attract higher quality employers and meet the needs of today’s global student. This includes working with recent grads to help them land their first job.
- Merging university services. Career services at many universities have merged with academic advising, alumni relations, and other departments. This will be important to strengthen all the programs across these departments and, hopefully, increase opportunities and services.
College career services can be great – if they’re used. Some of the benefits of using career services include career exploration, job recruiting, resume review, interview tips, and internship connections. Many of these services can improve through the global reach we’re experiencing.
Nonetheless, if you’re a recent grad and you’re struggling. Don’t. Reach out to your university’s career services program. Get involved and make things happen for you.