By: J. Neal Isaac, PhD
University students not only want to gain a sense of academic accomplishment from completing their degrees, but they also want to know that their academic degrees will increase their opportunities of landing a fulfilling career that is related to their field of study. With a multitude of social and academic activities confronting them during college, a student may ask “how do I prioritize? What is an optimal plan I can implement to maximize my career readiness at the time of graduation?” Dr. J. Neal Isaac, Associate Vice Chancellor at Keiser University offers five top ways a university student can maximize their career development during their time as a student.
1. Know the Student Services Staff. Get to know the various staff members in the Student or Career Services Department early. From the first day or week of enrollment, get to know the staff hours of operation. Stop by their offices during your academic journey (often) to ask questions about career trends, on-campus recruitment, job fairs, mock interview schedules, or how to get involved on campus. Express your gratitude.
2. Keep Track of the Career Fairs. Attend all career fairs. Dress for success even if you are a new student attending only as an inquirer. At all junctures of your education, maximize your opportunities with employers. Even as a freshman, you can talk to employers and learn about various jobs, hiring trends, the companies’ cultures, anticipated hiring needs in the future, etc. Nearing graduation (in the six months before graduation), a greater sense of urgency should arise within the student. This soon-to-be graduate should go to career fairs dressed for success along with copies of a professional resume (and even a portfolio of accomplishments related to the specific career area such as certifications, letters of recommendation, honors, etc.
3. Know the Resources that are Available. Ask yourself, does the Student or Career Services Department have an online career center where I may access the job database? If so, may I upload my resume and portfolio on this career site? Most universities do offer this, and a great example is the online career center at Keiser University viewable at www.collegecentral.com/keiser . The online career center may offer such items as a video resource library, job database, list of area career fairs, etc. Other resources may include a mock interview schedule, a list of internships available, overseas cultural exchange programs, or other professional development programs such as Keiser University’s Leadership Distinction Program whereby students commit to participating in community service as well as attending an array of extra-curricular professional development seminars on such topics as “Resume Writing,” “Job Search Using Technology,” “Civic Responsibility” and “Interviewing.”
4. Join and/or Attend Professional Associations, Honor Societies, or Student Organizations. There are often clubs or organizations that students can join associated with the various academic programs/degrees such as SOTA (Student Occupational Therapy Association), SNA (Student Nursing Association). There are honor societies such as PTK (Phi Theta Kappa honor society), or SBD (Sigma Beta Delta – business honor society). There are other groups such as SGA (Student Government Association). All of these groups help with building networking and professional development skills.
5. Personal Behaviors. Always strive to have perfect attendance, dress in a professional manner, be punctual, strive to get involved, and offer a helping hand. Those students who begin to see themselves as being able to make a difference will start making a difference. What you practice in school gets noticed. What you practice becomes a professional pattern that makes you shine.
J. Neal Isaac, Ph.D. is Associate Vice Chancellor of Student Services at Keiser University. He has worked in higher education for thirty years. He is a member of the National Association of Colleges and Employers as well as a member of the National Career Development Association.