How to get a job

Cheryl McEvoy

Cars jammed Lancaster from Spring Mill Road to Garrett Avenue. Girls fussed with skirts as they crossed the street. Guys touched up their hair as they hurried along to the main event. No, it wasn’t a concert or basketball game – it was the Villanova University Fall Career Fair.Inside the Pavilion, the usual V-shirts and face paint seen in the stands were replaced with suits and ties as students lined the aisles, waiting to speak with representatives from Boeing, Johnson & Johnson and Merrill Lynch, among hundreds of other names. But despite booming student interest at the Career Fair, many Villanovans do not take advantage of other programs offered by Career Services.”I had an internship this summer that I didn’t need to seek [career counselors] out for,” senior communication major Lauren Weber says. “[But] I would definitely be open to utilizing them more this year.””I’ve never been to Career Services, but I’ve used the Web site,” senior chemical engineering major Adam Cain says.The decision to use Career Services is “very individual,” says Nancy Dudak, director of the Office of Career Services. Dudak, who survived her own bout of career confusion, says her goal is to help students avoid the “zig-zag path” she followed.Whether a student is looking for a job, internship or just some inspiration, the Career Services staff is willing to help. Services are organized into three fields: decision-making, information and opportunities and skill development. There is no designated four-year plan to follow, Dudak says. Instead, students are encouraged to participate in programs according to their needs.For Villanovans sick of the “undecided” tag on their transcript, decision-making services include the student interest inventory, which helps the career-phobic hone in on a major. Career counselors also assist upperclassmen who have declared a major but don’t know what to do with it. They also advise students who suddenly find themselves unemployed and panicked about summer jobs.Students who want to learn more about a particular career field are encouraged to use one of Career Services’ informational programs. While career fairs attract students from all colleges, other events focus on specific career interests; panel discussions and guest speakers provide an insider’s view of the industry and invite students to network with potential employers.For those in need of more personal attention, career counselors can also help students find that priceless internship or locate alumni in the database.”I talked with a career counselor,” says senior chemical engineering major Daniel Colotti, who was a regular at Career Services a few years ago when he was looking for an internship. “[Career Services] didn’t help me directly, but it showed me a lot of resources on the Internet.”A popular high-convenience, low-commitment option is the GoNova account, formerly known as Experience. Students can post resumés, access job listings and connect with alumni while sitting in sweats and eating a bowl of Fruit Loops. GoNova also tags listings that are exclusive to Villanova, so students have a better idea of the competition. But for students who disdain computer-mediated job hunts and long for one-on-one time with a real counselor, have no fear.”It doesn’t mean you can’t ask questions,” Dudak says. Career Services still encourages students to make appointments for more personalized attention.”We want to be a blend of ‘high-tech’ and ‘high-touch,’ ” she says.Among the more “high-touch” programs are mock interviews. Students looking to sharpen their skills can participate in practice interviews that are conducted by career counselors. Sessions are recorded on camera so students can learn their weaknesses and correct bad habits. Mock interviews aren’t just for landing a job, either. Counselors have been known to help students perfect interviews for medical schools, scholarships and even New Student Orientation. As awkward as the experience may seem, Dudak says practice interviews can help. Just make sure to hide the DVD from your roommates.In addition to mock interviews, other skill development programs include an etiquette dinner, which introduces pizza-and-beer seniors to the finer elements of dining, and resumé workshops, which help students jam their college careers onto one organized page. Career Services also stores resumés, recommendations and transcripts up to seven years after graduation through its credentials service. Dudak says the one-stop storage is helpful for alumni who put off graduate school for a few years or who decide “they are ready for a move” after a couple years on the job. A new skills program that Career Services introduced last year is Wall Street Boot Camp that invites students to spend a Saturday with alumni from the College of Engineering, the College of Arts and Sciences and the School of Business. Activities include interviews, resumé reviews and networking.”[Students] liked the face-to-face time they got with the employers,” Dudak says. Career Services hopes to apply the “boot camp” model to other career fields, like advertising.Despite the variety of programs offered by Career Services, some students still feel lost in the job hunt.”I recognize the potential of Career Services, but I feel I have not been aware of opportunities for liberal arts majors,” senior honors major Elise Scioscia says.While a liberal arts education can be applied to a number of occupations, the wide range can also mean that students don’t know where to start.”They don’t want to know they can do anything, they want to know they can do something,” Dudak says.So when career counselors advise liberal arts students, they often focus on articulating skills, such as strong public speaking abilities, rather than pinpointing a particular career.”As long as they can say what they can do, employers will help figure out where they can go,” Dudak says.Most importantly, Dudak says, students should not compare themselves to those in other majors. Besides, if alumni are any indication, it works out.Dudak has high hopes for the future of Career Services. This year, the center has moved from being a part of Student Life to Academic Affairs, so career planning will soon be included in the “total academic experience,” Dudak says. Career Services will have stronger connections with the advising offices, and plans are even in the works for a career class through the Honors Program.The Career Services staff is on hand year round – yes, even on breaks – in Corr Hall. Peer career assistants are available for resumé and cover letter reviews or quick questions during walk-in hours, from 1 to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. Students experiencing an “I-don’t-know-what-to-do-with-my-life” moment are advised to schedule an appointment with a career counselor for individual in-depth attention.Ultimately, Dudak says, students need to “let life happen” and not put too much stress on the job hunt. Career choice should not be a life-ending decision, she says, but at the same time, find a job that “will lead you to something.”That is, after it leads you to them.