Picking what college to go to can seem like an impossible decision — not to mention trying to choose what to do once you get there, much less what to do after.
The University of New Mexico's Office of Career Services offers a variety of resources to help people find the right major and career path for them and establish a plan on how to get there.
Autumn Collins, career counseling manager for Career Services, said that the center’s focus is to help clients identify interests, values and skills in order to help them progress on a career path they desire.
The center is not just for students — alumni, staff, faculty, community members and Central New Mexico Community College students are all welcome to utilize the center free of charge, Collins said.
Moving clients toward their definition of success and not telling someone what to do are central values at the center, she said.
Career Services Director Jenna Crabb said the center aims to take the fear out of career development in a variety of ways.
A range of services is offered, including helping students find the right major and career, helping people find internships, creating a résumé and cover letter tailored to individual jobs and helping with graduate school applications, Crabb said.
Among the many services offered are mock interviews. Collins said all mock interviews are taped, so they can be played back to point out strengths and room for improvement.
The center is staffed with six career development facilitators, five of whom have master’s degrees in counseling and are licensed mental health counselors. Collins said having this foundation in counseling is beneficial, because when clients come in addressing past situations, mental health challenges or learning disabilities, the employees can honor their situation while helping them make decisions.
Apart from preparing for a job, the center also has a division within that focuses on employer outreach. A major part of this is their utilization of the job database, Handshake, which showcases over 3,000 jobs and mirrors a social media site, allowing it to be intuitive for students, Collins said.
She said finding the right major or career path can sometimes resemble dating — the strategy is ruling things out.
Engagement is the key to success when it comes to finding a career and landing a job, Collins said. She also said this engagement can come in the form of internships, but also through informational interview and job shadowing.
“You have to make it work for you,” she said. “A degree is a degree — it could be (a) dime-a-dozen if you don’t make it work for you.”
The center also works with soon-to-be graduates during “Now What?,” a three-hour workshop series with a different focus each hour, Collins said. Résumés, cover letters, interviewing tips, job search engines and how to land that dream job — and what to do when you do not — will all be discussed during the workshop.
“Don’t turn down opportunities that might not be perfect,” she said. “Be open to opportunities that might lead to that dream job. Being flexible and versatile can be really helpful.”
Crabb said finding a passion and what one wants to do in life can be daunting and intimidating, but Career Services tries to provide resources for clients to be successful and competitive in their field of choice.
“You’re the expert on you,” Collins said. “(We) would never tell (someone) that (they) should be something or make a certain decision. We can help guide you in a way that is the most effective for you.”
Madison Spratto is a news editor at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Madi_Spratto.