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Career Services: Your New Best Friend

By Marcia Hoexter, MA.Ed.

It's never too early or too late to go to Career Services. Some students report they're too busy with studies to devote time to career development. What these students fail to realize is that the years of academic study should be interwoven with career preparation.

I'm still an underclassmen, what can a career services officer do for me at this point in my career?

The Career Services office at your school is equipped to assist you with all aspects of your career development and at all stages of your academic career. Regardless of your field of study, you will have many options in the types of work and work environments that are available to you. For example, pick a field that might, on the surface, appear to be well defined: nursing.

The types of work nurses perform are not always as obvious as you might think. Nurses specialize in various medical fields such as pediatrics, oncology, obstetrics, or mental health. In addition to direct patient care, they may do research, medical case management or quality assurance.

Nurses work in many different types of work environments. Clinics, doctors' offices, hospitals, cruise ships, schools, office buildings, labs, or in the field for example, in blood donation vans for the Red Cross.

The physical requirements for a floor nurse in a hospital are quite different from the physical requirements of a nurse case manager working for an insurance company.

If you are in your first or second year of school, it is not too early to start exploring all the different options related to your field of study. Your school's Career Services office can assist you with this career exploration.

It is important for your career counselor to get to know you as a person. What is important to you on a personal level? What types of things do you enjoy doing? Do you prefer working closely with other people, or prefer working more independently?  What pay range is acceptable to you? What are your time commitments to family and school? How flexible is your schedule?

Some other things your career counselor will want to know may be surprising to you. Do you have any physical limitations including environmental limitations (some people cannot work in an industrial plant because of allergies or sensitivities)? Do you have your own transportation or do you rely on public transportation? All of these questions will play a part helping  your Career Services office help you in planning the direction of your career.

Some career centers may administer one or more testing instrument to learn more about your interests and values. It is important that you take this seriously and remember that there is no right or wrong answer on these tests. You are who you are and you will be most successful in a career that you are best suited for.

If you work closely with your Career Services counselor, and provide them the information they need, they will be in an excellent position to help you find a job that best meets your needs. So - make your Career Services staff your best friend. Get to know your Career Services staff and - more importantly - let them get to know YOU! Remember that it is easy for you to know one or two staff, but they are working with hundreds of students. You want to be the one that stands out!

About the Author: Marcia Hoexter, MA.Ed. is Director of Career Services at ITT Technical Institute, Chantilly, VA

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