Business is booming in Atlanta, with 15 Fortune 500 companies and 11 Fortune 1000 companies calling the city home, as well as hundreds of other well-known organizations boasting offices or hubs within the metro area. Georgia also consistently ranks as the number one state in which to do business, according to Area Development Magazine; in fact, in 2018, the state achieved the ranking for the fifth year in a row. That’s good news for graduates looking to land their first job and start their career journey.
However, the career journey really starts from the day you choose a university or college and continues into your choice of a major, your internships and even creating your resume. Navigating that transition from your academic life to your career can feel overwhelming to even the most confident students.
Fortunately, metro Atlanta’s universities are up for the challenge with a wealth of resources, events and expert insights that are designed to help shape students’ futures.
Get Advice Tailored to Your Needs
University career services centers offer a wealth of help and resources, from resume writing and editing to cover letter review, mock interviews and more. However, research from Gallup and Strada found that many students look to friends and family with career-related decisions, including choosing a major. But what that personal network almost always lacks is the professional, experienced insight and customized advice that will help you meet your unique goals and interests.
Your university’s career services center has a comprehensive overview of your unique academic journey—from major to internship and beyond—and can provide resources accordingly. For instance, Life University provides specialized career service help for students pursuing a Doctor of Chiropractic degree, including resume review and decision-making advice about transitioning into a chiropractic practice. Those career basics for a chiropractic graduate are going to look vastly different than an engineering student, making it crucial to get help from someone with experience serving your area of interest. Meanwhile, The Career Center at Emory University can help undergraduate and graduate students in a host of areas, with its Career Cluster offering specific collections of resources based on an industry or cluster of career options, such as business, health, STEM and law, government and public policy, among others.
Ask for Help Early and Often
Getting career guidance isn’t a one-time affair. As your academic journey evolves, so will your interests and skills. Make a note of your career services center open hours and take advantage of drop-in offerings that fit your schedule. Georgia State University offers 15-minute drop-ins throughout the week, as well as the ability to request longer 30- or 60-minute appointments to discuss majors and career planning.
Asking for help throughout your academic and career journey is also a way to refine your interview skills. In addition to help with your resume or cover letter, most career services centers help students with mock interviews to help hone their skills and confidence with unexpected or commonly asked questions from prospective employers. Visit the center before and after an interview to give feedback and work through how to make the next one even better.
But the real key is making the request for help an integral part of your academic journey from the beginning. “Our goal is to make career development relevant to students early and often in the hopes of preparing them for the ever-changing world of work,” says Ana Baida, executive director, Department of Career Planning and Development, at Kennesaw State University. “We attempt to be the most flexible department we can be—attempting to find new, innovative ways to get employers interfacing with students in meaningful ways.”
Look Beyond Resume Help
Your college or university’s career services center usually provides resume and cover letter writing help to assist students in landing those first internships and entry into the workforce. Beyond that, it’s important to ask what kinds of additional resources are available to you and stay on the department’s radar as someone eager to learn.
Life University offers both workshops and career fairs to help students network, discover new opportunities and find companies hiring recent graduates.
Most colleges and universities provide career fairs or networking events, and Georgia Tech even offers an innovative Virtual Career Fair to connect online easily.
Remember, soft skills like verbal and written communication are also crucial to prospective employers. Your career services center can help identify critical soft skills and make recommendations for resources to help you develop and refine them. Participating in mock interviews and attending networking events are also ways to help hone those skills. Morehouse College Career Services also offers help with business and dining etiquette to walk students through that crucial communication and help them make the best possible first impressions on prospective employers.
What’s more, many career services departments extend their offerings well beyond picking majors and helping land that first job. A services career service office can also help figure out student loan repayment plans. After identifying a viable major and career path, a career advisor can talk you through salary expectations and industry growth and show how that will impact your future financial health.
Explore Resources for Unconventional Paths
Students and alumni with unconventional interests and skills can still tap into resources at their university. After all, a career services center should evolve with industry trends and have its pulse on what both students and employers are looking for. Gwinnett Technical College focuses on immersing students in the career experience from the start. Phoebe Coquerel, director of Career Experience for Launch Pointe, The Clyde L. Strickland Center for Career Experience, states, “Gwinnett Tech’s curriculum is heavily influenced by our business and industry partners who share the needs of the marketplace and help us empower students with the right tools. In addition, Gwinnett Tech is currently expanding our entrepreneur program to specifically support students who are interested in taking the road less traveled of being the next great innovator or entrepreneur. We recognize the need to enable each student to succeed in their chosen path.”
Ask for Help After Graduation
Many career services centers are there to help students long after they shed their graduation cap and gown and move into their first job. For example, Kennesaw State University helps current students and alumni alike with traditional services like resume editing and mock interviews, as well as accessing employment opportunities, networking events, industry exploration nights and workshops. Your career services center also can help with insights and best practices on social media platforms like LinkedIn that can help get your resume seen, as well as seek out other alums on the platform that can help put you in touch with prospective employers.
Make your metro Atlanta area university career services center a part of your own academic journey and leverage every resource, service and event possible to keep refining your skills and experiences. The more you focus on your goals and take action with the help of a friendly and helpful advisor, the closer you will be to finding career success.