Interview with a Career Advisor
If you’re in college and job hunting, chances are you’ve visited your campus career advisor. I’ve gone to get my resume and cover letter look over before I sent it off to be scrutinized. Usually I pop into walk-in hours then walk about fifteen minutes later with numerous parts to edit. However, a few days ago I got curious–what exactly goes on in a career advisor’s brain? Who exactly are these people and what makes them get up in the morning to advise twenty-somethings on how to get a foot into the job market? Well, I’m here to answer these questions. I had the chance to sit down with Andrea, an assistant director at the BGSU Career Center and I’m super excited to tell you all about it!
What led you to becoming a college career advisor?
I had worked in higher education for 10 years as a recruiter and I thought it would be very interesting to instead of helping students at the front end of deciding what college they should choose, I would be helping them on the tail end with “what should I do with my life?” and helping them make those decisions. So, it was like I’ve already done the admissions piece and I really enjoyed that, but this is another way I can work with students in a role that still helps them with their decisions making, but now with their career and life choices and it sounded interesting!
What is your process for advising students? How do you go about helping them plan for their careers?
I first check my calendar to see if there are any side notes: what year are they and the reason that they’re coming in? Are they coming in for resume assistance? Is it a mock interview? Is it career planning? Is it that you’re having trouble trying to figure out what field you want to go in whether that’s a major or a career? Is that you’re in a major that you’re unhappy with and how is that implicate maybe what your career options look like now? So I look to see all the information that I have at the time about the person I’m going to be meeting with and then when I meet with them I clarify what they need and then I’ll usually ask them a series of questions to try to take us in a direction that will help me know how to guide them and what resources they need. Do they need to go to a job fair and talk to the over 200 employers that will be coming up; are there any workshops coming? What events can they attend? Or, do I have any personal contacts that I can reach out to for them and be the in between person. So, I see what they hope to get out of the appointment and I clarify what they’re here for; and that’s what we work from.
I see a lot of entry level jobs that ask for almost 3-5 years of experience. Do you believe this is reasonable for recent grads or is this a tactic to weed people out?
I believe it’s both, but to be honest this is what I would do: if you’re looking at online sites like Indeed.com I would in the search bar, key in “entry level” and that will weed out positions that will say you must have 3 to 5 years. I have also learned that certain titles mean more entry level than others such as: coordinator, technician, specialist, assistant. Sometimes those are tip offs of entry level opposed to positions such as assistant director or director, manager, assistant supervisor.
Also, even if it says ‘1 to 2 years of experiences’ I would say a lot of organizations are looking for recent college grads more so than people with experience. So, let’s say they have a list of 10 requirements and you have 8 out of the 10, if you have the majority of what they’re asking for and some of what’s on their list say preferred then I would go for it!
What is one piece of advice that you can give to recent grads who are job hunting?
I would say be open to opportunites. Do not narrow yourself down to one field–you need to cast the net a little outside of your comfort zone. A lot of people find that they might be better suited for something else, but they just haven’t thought about it yet. So my advice is to be open and give other jobs and industries a try because you might find out, like myself and many of my colleagues, that we don’t always land in the field that we study. Also attend events that will put you into the company of others that can give you business cards and connections.
How do you live well? What makes you feel refreshed?
I always strive for balance. It doesn’t always happen, but I strive for it. I don’t know if you believe in astrology, but I’m a Libra and that’s the scales. So I think that’s just something inherent in me that I need to feel refreshed and on track. I try to pour myself into my work and give over 100%, but then when I leave here I try to make it “my time”. If I’ve had a busy work week, I try to have some downtime over the weekend. If there are people who want to get together I’ll say: “I’ll let you know, I need sometime to just chill out a little bit”.
If I feel that the space I’m in is in chaos then I’m in chaos. So I need to take that time to make sure my space in organized and clean. I mentally compartmentalize: “this is what I can accomplish this weekend”, but I may have to call so-and-so and say “hey you know what, I have 2 hours rather than 3.” or “I can’t come and see you this weekend”. I might have to shift in order to stay balanced, because when it’s tipping I’m okay for awhile, but if becomes a constant then I start feeling out of sorts and withdrawn. So I have to get back to telling people I can’t go out or be somewhere. I have to be upfront and honest with people, and most of them understand because they’re on the some boat I’m on. I try to do everything, but sometimes it’s too much I have to find my balance.
I had so much fun interviewing Andrea and learning more about the group of people who want college students to find careers that they love. If you’re currently in college and feel stuck when it comes to career planning and job searching then I suggest you visit your campus career advisor. They want to see you succeed and have plenty of resources to help jump start your career!