One of the toughest challenges that career centers face is countering the myths that students have about the career planning process and the services available to them. Villanova University has developed a good resource for dispelling career planning myths, and we've listed below some of the myths that we've heard about Wittenberg Career Services. If you hear your students making comments that reflect any of these myths, please encourage them to consider the facts and to visit our office or web site - it's important that they see for themselves what we have to offer.
Myth: Career Services is only for graduating seniors who need someone to find them a job.
Fact: This is a two-part myth. First, we offer services for all students to ensure they will achieve the career objectives outlined in the four-year plan. Second, we don't "find jobs" for students. Instead, we provide a number of services to help students connect with employers who are hiring, including on-campus recruiting, resume referrals, and a monthly job leads newsletter.
Myth: If I don't know what I want to do Career Services can't help me.
Fact: National surveys have shown that only about 20% of students graduate with the same career goal they had when they entered college as freshmen. We offer career consulting aimed at helping students identify "best fit" career options. Many of the students that we work with are undecided when they first come to Career Services.
Myth: If I have a low GPA Career Services can't help me.
Fact: Although good grades are an advantage when marketing oneself to employers, they are no guarantee that one will land their first pick of jobs. Some employers consider experience outside of the classroom and interview performance over GPA. Of the employers who interviewed on campus during the 2000-2001 school year, 50% did not use GPA as an interview selection criterion.
Any student with a low GPA is encouraged to schedule a career consulting appointment to explore if a lack of career direction is impacting his/her classroom performance.
Myth: Only big corporations post jobs and internships at Career Services. You're on your own if you want to work for a non-profit, government agency, etc.
Fact: Many non-profits do not have the recruiting budget to make themselves visible in the on-campus interview process, but they refer job leads to us frequently. We are proud to count among our on-campus recruiters the American Cancer Society, Air Force Civilian Recruiting, Ohio Legislature, Peace Corps, Lutheran and Jesuit Volunteer Corps, various global mission groups, and City Year--to name just a few.
Myth: If I am undecided about a major or career path, Career Services will just give me a test and then send me on my way.
Fact: We do use a variety of career tests as they generally help students work through the first phase of the career planning process: self-assessment. After the test results are interpreted, an action plan is developed with the student to help them understand what steps they can take to complete the self-assessment phase or to begin work on the next phases of the career planning process.
Students are encouraged to schedule as many career consultation appointments as they need to review their progress, discuss obstacles or concerns, and identify resources. They are also given the option of seeking consultation via e-mail. Additionally, the Power Portfolio is used to facilitate communications between Career Services and students. This tool is used to sort students by career interest area for the purpose of sharing announcements about career guidance resources, internships, etc. Faculty Advisors can also access a student's Power Portfolio to prepare for advising sessions.
Myth: Career Services cannot help those who want to work in Springfield after graduation.
Fact: While it is always advisable for graduates to define their geographic requirements with flexibility, the University maintains relationships with a variety of local companies, school systems, and non-profit organizations that hire our students.
Myth: Because Career Services is only concerned about improving statistics for their annual report, they will push jobs that might not be in the best interest of the student but will increase their placement percentage.
Fact: Unlike employment agencies, we are not paid by employers for job placements. Therefore, we don't need to push students to make premature decisions. We encourage students to interview broadly, to learn more about career opportunities so they can make informed decisions, and to gain interview experience. The final choice of which job offer to accept, and when to make that decision, always belongs to the student. As for our annual report, we wait until a full year after graduation to collect data because we recognize that many students sorting through postgraduate options like to take their time with the process until they can hear their own drummer.
Myth: Career Services staff will look down on me if I don't have high ambitions.
Fact: Career Services recognizes that people have different expectations about the role work should play in their lives. Some are focused on finding a job that will pay the bills and allow them to pursue interests outside of work. While others seek to establish themselves in a career field and/or find their life's calling. Our goal is to help you make a decision that fits with your values, interests, personality, and skills. We do not evaluate the ambition level of students.
Myth: It's not cool to use Career Services - it's a sign that your family isn't well connected.
Fact: Even among those students whose families are very well connected, many would prefer to acquire job offers on their own merits. Of course, there is no reason a student cannot use their family network, the Tiger Career Advisers Network, or Career Services employer network. Many do!
As you've probably discovered, initiating a discussion about career planning can put your son or daughter on the defensive. There are many reasons for such a reaction. For some it's apprehension about getting a lecture on needing to be able to earn a living after college. But, for most, it's concern over how much you are sacrificing to pay for their college education. They feel squeezed to find a path that will satisfy you as well as gratify their own needs. We hope the information provided above will make it easier to have career coaching talks with your student. Additional information on this topic is found in the book, Helping Your College Student Succeed: The Parent's Crash Course in Career Planning (2007), Marcia Harris and Sharon Jones.