What You Should (and Should NOT) Expect from Your College’s Career Services

Nov 07, 2023

When you embark on your college journey, you likely have a clear goal in mind: to obtain a degree that will pave the way for a successful career after college. To help you achieve this goal, most colleges and universities offer Career Services. These services can be valuable in helping you conduct a search for summer internships or a full-time job after college. However, it's important to have realistic expectations about what college career services can and cannot offer. Based on our experience working with college students, here are what you should, and should not, expect from your campus Career Services office.


What to Expect


  1. Resume Review  

Whether providing feedback on a draft you’ve compiled or helping you write your first version with an established template, most college career offices can help you create and fine-tune your resume to highlight your skills and experiences. Today, most career offices also help you create a basic LinkedIn profile as well in addition to a traditional resume.


  1. Interview Prep

College career advisors can provide valuable tips and practice sessions to help you do better in your job interviews. This includes guidance on common questions, body language, and effective communication strategies for in-person and virtual interviews.


  1. On Campus Recruiting


Career service teams interface with employers to arrange on-campus interviews, career fairs and recruiting activities and help students participate in these events to meet directly with company representatives for interviews and information sessions. Today, many colleges also offer access to online platforms with job listings aimed at current students, such as Handshake, a third-party platform that many colleges use.


  1. Alumni Networking

Networking with school alumni can open doors to mentorship, internships, and job referrals. Your college career services office usually offers ways to help you connect with alumni in your interest areas. Colleges maintain databases of alumni, often including an indication of how willing they are to engage with current students, although this is less important in the age of LinkedIn than it was in the past.


  1. Diagnostic Assessments

Your career services team may offer assessments to help you discover your strengths, interests, and potential career paths.  


What Not to Expect


  1. An Abundance of Personalized Attention


It’s not that you won’t get personalized attention from your college Career Services office (you will), it’s a question of how much. According to a recent study from the US Department of Education, the average undergraduate student-to-career counselor ratio is 408-to-1 on American college campuses! You do the math. Of course, not all students use these resources and you can make yourself one of the heavy users to improve that ratio, but you should not necessarily expect same day walk-in availability to meet with a counselor if you’re suddenly facing a new application deadline or interview. And those students requiring personalized, ongoing support in managing their job search process may need to find other resources to help keep their efforts on track. 


  1. Advisors with Industry Expertise


College career advisors can be great, but most have followed career paths in higher education and don’t have direct industry experience in the business world. Most have degrees in education, counseling and social work with expertise in counseling and guidance. They are generalists serving a diverse population of student profiles and interests, so don’t expect to receive industry-specific or function-specific insights and career advice, or extensive personal networks from years spent working in the private sector.


  1. Extensive Recruiting Opportunities Beyond On-Campus Employers


Career services offices typically cultivate relationships with a group of employers in close geographic proximity to their campus and who have the resources to support formal on-campus recruiting efforts, such as campus career fairs and workshops. These employers are often large companies from industries that heavily recruit and train new graduates like financial services, consulting, and tech. If you are interested in pursuing a career path with employers that don’t already have a relationship with your college or university, you will have to do most of the work in finding and developing those opportunities.


  1. Networking Opportunities Beyond School Alumni Connections


Tapping into your college or university’s alumni network is a good idea, and usually one of the first things a career services office will recommend. Alumni are often priority guest speakers and participants at career service events to help keep alumni ties strong and bring valued successful graduates back to campus. But don’t expect your career services office to tee up extensive new outreach or personal introductions to industry insiders unaffiliated with your school. And without experience working in industry, most campus career counselors don’t have extensive personal networks for you to tap into.


  1. Parent Engagement


As both parents and students probably know after just a few weeks on campus, most colleges and universities expect students to communicate independently and advocate for themselves. Parents may in many cases be the ones paying the bills, but most college professionals, including those in the career services office, will not engage directly with parents on student matters. That leaves parents dependent on communicating with their student about the job search process and without a regular direct line of communication the on-campus resources designed to help in the job search process.


In today's competitive job market, it's vital to explore all available resources to help you realize your career ambitions. College career service offices offer valuable free resources to support and guide students considering and pursuing internships and full time professional roles in various fields, but these resource-constrained departments cannot be all things to all jobseekers. 


If your student needs more personalized attention, sustained support for their job search, more specialized industry expertise, or a more comprehensive range of resources to empower their career journey, consider incorporating private career services to address these needs and gain significant advantage in the career launch process. 


HireEdge is the premier service helping college students and recent graduates launch their careers in business. Our top MBA coaches and proven process will help you plan a career launch strategy and lead an effective first full-time job or internship search. Whether you are a current college student, recent graduate, or parent, you can schedule a free, no obligation consultation to learn more about what we do here.