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October 7, 2013 / Brad Squibb

Are college career centers still of value to students?

There is an ongoing debate about college career centers that can get quite heated. Basically, are college career centers helpful or a waste of time? While there are some awesome centers out there, it seems that there are many others that fall short when it comes to serving students and preparing them for the modern world.

The argument for college career centers

Both two- and four-year colleges typically have a career center with the goal of helping students find a job. This often includes resume writing, mock interviews, internship placement and networking with alumni – opportunities students won’t likely find anywhere else. While it may be tough for busy students to look beyond their studies, those who use this resource get a head start when it comes time to get a job post graduation.

The argument against college career centers

The reason why so many students bypass their college career centers provides insight into why some are failing: they aren’t helpful. In a busy college student’s life, there’s no space for time-wasters. Some are falling short because they provide dated advice that is no longer advantageous. The fact is, how people search for jobs is ever-evolving, and a good career center will always be up to date on those strategies.

The future of college career centers

Quality career centers need to educate students about where to start their job searches, what sites are the most useful, and what to look for from a job site. Too often they take a general approach for all students. An individualized approach based on the student’s goals and specialties is a better option. Where and how an engineering student looks for a job may vary from how a student studying Spanish or psychology goes about the process.

I would argue that most career centers are stuck in the ‘job board’ era of yesteryear, and don’t truly know what direction to point their students. Learning about new interview techniques, modern networking opportunities, social media outreach and the best online job search engines will put their students a step ahead of the rest – and prove to be a valuable aspect of the college experience.