Griping with peers about the improbability of landing a job out of college has become nearly fundamental to an undergraduate experience. Manifesting close to the proverbial “raincloud” of childhood storybooks, job preparation and job security incessantly loom over the heads of America’s undergraduate population. This pressure is not unfounded or unnecessary, as landing a job is arguably the highest motivating factor for enrolling in college in the first place. More than 80 percent of college students highlight the potential of a future career as the crucial influence in their decision to enroll. The correlation is clear: For students, college is ultimately about gathering the skills necessary to start their career.
These aforementioned attainable skills are not limited solely to coursework. Extracurriculars, leadership roles and internships, among others, do their best to explicitly and implicitly present students with the proper toolbox for success in a professional environment. Nevertheless, the pressure remains. Students who brim their schedules and pack their free time with commitments have an edge in the job market, but can still be left feeling lost in the weeds, unsure of what lies ahead. Enter career services.
Generally, career services exist to quell the fears of wide-eyed undergraduates as they make the leap into the professional sphere. Through workshops, mock interviews and general career advice, these centers are home to the tools missing from but equally integral to a general-undergraduate experience. Remarking about figuring things out as they happen, about being wildly unaware of what pertains to the future and practicing frequent, self-deprecating humor aimed to poke fun at the inexperience most college students identify with are far from uncommon, so why aren’t more students seeking out professional assistance?
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According to a report by Gallup and the Strada Education Network that surveyed more than 32,000 currently enrolled college students across 43 randomly selected institutions, only 34 percent of current college students can say definitively they have the skills necessary to successfully land a job out of college. Only 53 percent of students believe their major will lead to a good job following college. These struggling numbers — coupled with the more than 80 percent of students who are going to college to land a great career — present a clear conclusion: Career services provide an obvious set of valuable resources.
Among the surveyed students, 39 percent responded saying they had never visited their career services center on campus. Even further, 35 percent of seniors, those closest to the professional sphere, had also never turned to the campus resource. Twenty percent of undergraduates say they’ve never reached out to career services with inquiries regarding finding jobs or locating and applying to graduate programs — both aspects in which career services emphasize literacy.
Even further bolstering the benefit of this near-integral resource, of those who have reaped the fruits of career advising, 42 percent indicated a higher confidence in the knowledge necessary to succeed in the job market in contrast to the 27 percent of students who felt similarly having never spoken with faculty or staff.
In essence, career services boast clear, quantitative data as it correlates to confidence and job-market literacy. While career services may not be the resource every student turns to — as many cited, and validly so, family or friends as valuable resources — career services are explicitly designed to impart the desires of employers on prospective students.
From this conclusion, the remaining quarrel lies between whether the onus of this statistical discrepancy lies on the student body or the center itself. Ultimately, students are the drivers of their own destiny. Seeking out this level of advising takes a concerted effort — nothing will be served on a platter, it all takes effort. But the above data is convincing. While undergraduate experiences are infinitely subjective and advising needs vary on a case-by-case basis, career services will never harm your chances of becoming a more attractive applicant. Worst case scenario is you feel you gained nothing from the experience. As such, it shouldn’t take much to convince current students to seek out what career advising has to offer. Perhaps the most effective way to encourage increased usage is to emphasize these comprehensive statistics across the board — they should become the trademark of all career services promotion.
The trend of student stress revolving around professional preparation is undeniable and completely understandable, but that stress can be statistically lessened by career advising. It just takes a little effort.
Lucas Johnson ([email protected]) is a sophomore majoring in journalism and strategic communication.