Career and internship fairs don’t just provide Northwestern students with stacks of multicolored papers and existential crises. They also introduce students to University Career Services, Northwestern’s free career development center. Unfortunately, the relationship stops there for those who are unaware of the array of resources that UCS provides. Follow this guide to take advantage of all the resources it offers.
FRESHMAN YEAR: Freshman Career Group
This winter, UCS ran a workshop series called “First in Line” to help freshmen begin their career development journeys. This three-session career group “speaks mostly about the career decision making process,” according to Tracie Thomas, associate director of career development at UCS. At each workshop, staff members guide a small group of freshmen through career development topics, like choosing a major, career exploration and networking. Luckily, this opportunity hasn’t passed: UCS plans to run one more career group during Spring Quarter.
SOPHOMORE YEAR: Industry Compatability Assessments
If a student still hasn’t chosen a career path by sophomore year, UCS administers industry career assessments to survey a student’s strengths and preferences and match them with compatible industries. The Strong Interest Inventory test assesses a student’s natural interests and matches the results with more than 100 occupations. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test, on the other hand, determines the “natural preferences in our personality that are consistent throughout our lives,” such as “how you direct energy and make decisions,” according to Thomas. It then matches these personality traits to career fields that might be good fits.
JUNIOR YEAR: Internship Specialists
UCS has several specialists across disciplines as well as general overview information that juniors who have decided on an industry or career can access. The office also stocks a full collection of The Vault Guides, downloadable eBooks that outline the different careers available in an industry, as well as specifics like how to be a competitive applicant. “[The Vault Guides] really break down industries in terms of job functions and work environments,” Thomas says. “It gives students a really good picture of different kinds of industries.”
SENIOR YEAR: CareerCat
For seniors who need to get serious about the employment process, CareerCat helps them get started. CareerCat is a database maintained by UCS that is essentially the core of on-campus recruiting: It stores the job offers of career fair participants, as well as UCS events and workshops. On CareerCat, students can upload their résumés and cover letters, schedule interviews and even receive emails when a job opens in one of their listed fields. This level of customization makes CareerCat an attractive resource for many students. Weinberg senior Sophia Blachman-Biatch is currently using CareerCat to apply for jobs and schedule interviews, and she likes that “you can tailor your search for positions that would be interesting for you.”
BONUS POINTS: Career Ambassadors
UCS staff members are not the only people on campus who offer free career help services. The Career Ambassadors are Northwestern students who are trained to give workshops, organize outreach programs and provide resources for the rest of the student community. “We talk to [students] about their résumés, give them pointers, review cover letters,” says senior career ambassador Danny Kim, a Weinberg junior. “We provide them the resources to keep going further and expand their careers.” The Career Ambassadors hold walk-in hours from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Core Library on Thursdays and Fridays for one-on-one résumé and cover letter reviews.