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Career Story: University Career Counselor

University Career Counselor

Job Title: University Career Counselor

Education: BA in English and Communications, North Dakota State University •• MS in Clinical/Counseling Psychology, University of Central Missouri

Previous Experience: I worked as a copywriter/producer for a full service advertising/marketing agency for several years after receiving my BA. I made a career change to substance abuse/mental health counselor after receiving my MS and license as a professional counselor. I made another career change a couple years ago when I became a university career counselor.

Job Tasks: I work in a university office that helps students decide on their major and prepare for the work force. In addition to career counseling, our office provides help with resume writing, interviewing skills, networking, researching prospectve employers and other aspects of their job search. We sponsor many career events throughout the academic year, including career fairs, on-campus interviewing,and internship placement. We also help students find part-time employment, on- and off-campus.

As a career counselor, my primary function is to assist students who have not yet declared a major or are in the process of changing their major. I provide one-on-one counseling during I assist the student with self-exploration as well as major and career exploration. I have been trained to administer personality, interest, and values assessments, and together the student and I discuss the implications of their results.

In addition to self-exploration I provide resources for the student to explore major and career options. We have a career library containing resources on majors, careers, employers, as well as resume writing, dressing for success, etc. We also offer many on-line resources for self-and career-exploration through our web page, which I review with the student.

In addition, I serve as a "networking hub" between the student and faculty, employers, and upper class students in the major and career areas the student is considering. They can then set up meetings for informational interviews and job shadows, to learn firsthand what the career option entails and determine if it is a match for them. I typically meet with a student a minimum of three times; often times more as is desirable for the student to make the right choice. This process can take place over a period of time from a couple weeks to a couple semesters.

I also teach a career exploration class which offers the services and resources described above in a more structured format.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: I am absolutely passionate about my job, and I love helping people discover the major and career that will fulfill their passion. I enjoy the creativity and connection that comes with counseling each individual student; every process is different! I get to work one-on-one with students on an aspect of their lives that is fundamental to their sense of well-being and purpose. I additionally get to work with groups of students, presenting, teaching and training students to be successful in their majors and careers. My job offers a high level of variety: I learn something new every day.

The worst part is that, during certain times of the academic year, the need outstrips the resources. Our office gets so busy that students have to wait 2-3 weeks to get an appointment, and my workload becomes very demanding. This is made tolerable, however, by how much I love what I do.

Job Tips:
1. Learn all you can about this or any career you are considering. If you are a college student, utilize your campus' career center!

2. Volunteer or job shadow at a career center. In addition to school career centers, there are state government-sponsored career centers in virtually every community. There are also privately owned career service businesses as well. Research "career centers" on-line for your area.

3. Hone your computer skills. Learn a second language. Read, read, read. Expand your network (the people you know and who know you) every chance you can. These tips apply to any career you are considering.

Additional Thoughts: If you are curious, compassionate, love listening and talking, career counseling may be a great career match for you.

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