I have been blessed to have both my children attend my alma mater, Penn State. My son graduated in 2015, and is now in graduate school. My daughter is a junior Schreyer Scholar majoring in nursing.
Last year I met with Dr. Robert Orndorff, the Senior Director for Penn State Career Services. While it is easy to think of them as only helping students get a job upon graduation, in reality, they are so much more! I was amazed at the services and assistance they provide both to students and alumni.
My son did not step into Career Services before his graduation date, and once he did, he exclaimed, “Career Services is awesome! They can help you do everything there!” This is after my husband and I suggested that he stop in freshman year… requested he go sophomore year…. urged him to stop by junior year…. and pleaded him to go senior year. He never felt “ready” to go to Career Services.
He did seek help applying to graduate school last year, and Career Services was a valuable resource. The counselors helped him narrow down graduate school options, research schools in his field, evaluate costs and lengths of programs, write essays and practice interviewing. Dr. Orndorff did tell me however, that when kids walk in at the end of their college career, it is almost too late. A lot of what Career Placement can do is to keep students developing their resume, building experience, networking and acquiring mentors for recommendations. These are all things that a kid can work on during their years at Penn State, not only when they are applying for jobs. In fact, kids can be successful developing connections with professors prior to their senior year, for example.
So last year, when my daughter said she was not going to a career fair because she was too busy, we encouraged her to just drop in and check it out. As a sophomore, it gave her a chance to practice networking in a low-consequence environment, so when she is doing it for real in the next few years, she knows what to expect. Knowing our ties to Penn State, I wouldn’t be surprised if the same recruiters return next year, and wouldn’t it be fun for her to be able to say “Hi, we met last year…” Her experience was great. The recruiters were friendly and enthusiastic. Hopefully, it will alleviate some of the job search anxiety when the stakes are higher.
Encourage your student to stop by for a drop in session at Career Services! Here are some of the services they provide:
- Explore majors and careers
- Build experience
- Write resumes and cover letters
- Find internships
- Practice interviewing
- Graduate school selection and admission
- Resources for Diverse Population
Drop in times are Monday – Friday: 8:30 am – 4:30 pm
(Tuesday night Drop-In will be held from 5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. outside the Freeman Auditorium in the HUB)
No appointments necessary– First come, first served
Here is the link to Career Services at Penn State: http://studentaffairs.psu.edu/career/about/ .