Adventures in the Career Centre

It has been a while since I last posted, but I have a good reason for that. The networking session I wrote about previously, actually led me to a summer contract job at a college. Since the end of May, I have been working as an Employment Consultant in the school’s career centre, a job which involves working with students and alumni, providing them with help on their resumes, cover letters, job search strategies and interview skills. So far, I am really enjoying the experience and feel grateful to be working in an environment where I can develop my skills and contribute to the career success of students.

I am pleased to say that despite some earlier concerns about my skills becoming rusty, I actually feel quite comfortable with my coaching abilities. The first few appointments were a bit shaky since I was still settling into my role, but with each student I see, I gain confidence in my skills. I have received some very positive feedback from many of my students and it feels good to know that I have helped them move forward in some way on their career journey. I learn from each student I meet with as well, since they come from so many different programs and have very diverse experiences outside the classroom. I find I must constantly adapt my approach, and always try to incorporate what I am learning into subsequent appointments. Since I thrive on learning, I feel I am in the right place and that this job is a good fit for me.

Even with all of these positives however, I still encounter obstacles from time to time in my position. So far, my biggest challenge has been the unrealistic expectations some students have for life after they graduate. Many of them seem to feel that their dream job will just fall into their laps, even if they have little to no work experience. Also, many students have no idea of just how long a job search can take these days. I try to caution them that it may be several months, or in some cases, even years before they find a job in their field, and that they should open themselves up to the possibility of survival jobs, part-time, contract, or temporary work. In addition, I find myself spending a lot of time convincing students of the importance of getting out from behind the computer screen and doing some face-to-face networking; I’m living proof that such a strategy can lead to success.

I’d love to hear from those of you who work with students in career development to learn how you handle the unrealistic expectations of your students; how do you deliver them a dose of reality while still encouraging them to strive for their dreams? The last thing I want to do is discourage students from pursuing their ideal jobs, but I also don’t want to set them up for failure by pretending it will be easy to achieve their goals. It’s a difficult balance and I’d appreciate any advice anyone out there can offer.

Profile photo of Karen Schofield
Karen Schofield
Karen Schofield, B.A., BEd., CDP is a recent graduate of the Career Development Practitioner program at Conestoga College. She previously worked as a substitute teacher, and also taught adults seeking a secondary school diploma.

2 Comments

  1. Profile photo of Stephen
    July 17, 2013, 10:10 am   /  Reply

    Great post Karen and congratulations!! I think working with students is always a great opportunity. They’re just starting to get out into the world and discover new possibilities about the world of work. But I agree!! There’s a disconnect between a student’s image of an ideal world and the real one as we know it. And though I’ve never worked with counselling students, I was one once (technically still am). I think the most important thing that you’re doing for these students is giving them direction and encouraging them to follow their dreams. As a young person I’m sure they are constantly getting pulled one way or another and have others in their lives(loved ones trying to help) adding their two cents and what they feel is best!
    This encouragement and caution you give to the students will help prepare them for what’s out there. And finding out that they’re expectations and what the worlds really like is a part of growing up. I would provide the students with information on dealing with transitions, local youth support networks they could hook up with, and encouraging them to continue to use counselling services if they find they’ve hit a road block. Though a career is something everyone wants to attain to, a student coming out of school is in a vulnerable time in their life. They need to know they have supports to get them to that next stage.
    Sounds like you’re really embracing your new role and it’s amazing you have a part in helping the workers of the future on their journey.

  2. Anna
    July 24, 2013, 11:56 am   /  Reply

    Great post Karen. I am also an Ontario college career centre advisor and you’re absolutely correct about students’ and graduates’ expectations being challenging to manage. A highly useful tool though are your college’s graduate employment outcomes that are part of the Key Performance Indicators. Showing the related employment rate (and explaining the survey methodology), the entry level job titles, company names, and often more importantly, the starting average salary, is usually the best concrete method of bringing them back down to earth. :)

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