Top Five: What to ask your College Career Counselor
College campus is buzzing with tales from Winter Break, who did what and who went where?! But now it’s time to get down to business and figure out what the summer, next year and more has in store. And it starts with making an appointment with your College Career Counselor, but what do you ask once you’re there? We spoke with Shayne Lazar, a career counselor at Hunter College in New York City, to give us some pointers.
1. Can you review my resume?
College counselors are skilled at expressing experiences and transferable skills to your resume. It also gives you an opportunity to realize some of the things they need to accomplish before they graduate. “One of the most important things is to ensure students are using the right terminology so that when resumes are submitted and going through an ATS (Applicant Tracking System) your resume will get noticed.”
2. When should I be applying for an internship?
Students should apply for internships as early as sophomore year. Many students do not realize that application deadlines can be 5 or 6 months earlier than when the internship starts. We also encourage students to do more than one internship before they graduate. The more internships a student is able to do the more marketable they become to employers, some of those students will also receive full time offers before graduation! And your counselor might have some unexpected ideas that are a good fit for your interests.
3. How may I gain interview experience, especially if I get really nervous and find interviews intimidating?
Interviews can absolutely be intimidating and nerve wracking. Many people are not comfortable “selling themselves.” At Hunter College, we have a platform that allows you to practice interviewing. It is a great video interviewing tool. Since many employers are using automated systems for first round interviews, these kinds of systems allow students to become familiar with this platform. We also encourage students to set up mock interviews with a career counselor, mentor, or even a family friend. The only way to get better at interviewing is continuing to practice!
4. When is the right time to start networking in my field and how do I do that?
Networking is one of the best ways to tap into the “hidden job market”, positions that never become posted due to referrals. Through your internship experiences, you should be building a professional network. Developing a LinkedIn profile and staying active with connections is key. Start to research Professional Associations related to your field of interest and get involved. Volunteer if possible! The real key is to not be afraid to reach out, ask questions, stay in touch and remember hopefully one day they will be in the position to be a mentor or career professional.
5. How do I know if I am choosing the right career path?
Students should think about their interests and what they are good at, and find a passion. Talk to people who are already in that profession and ask lots of questions. It also goes back to that internship, and trying different internships, this gives you the opportunity to really see what that career field is like IRL. Sometimes internships can confirm their choice or open their minds to something else. Understanding there are options and realizing people change jobs can ease the burden of the question, is this the career for me.