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Why you should engage your university’s careers office

Meld Magazine

Wed Nov 28 2012


STUDENTS and fresh grads, do make use of your university careers office! Monash University’s Multicultural Employment Consultant, Danny Ong, tells you why in this second installment of our career development series.

Career offices have been around for awhile – they know their stuff! This office is from 1981. Photo: Library of the London School of Economics and Political Science

Now that the semester’s over, international students are actively looking for graduate and vacation employment. But many have yet to tap into a valuable resource – their university careers office. This article will help inform you about some of the services provided by careers offices and also highlight the importance of accessing these services at an early stage of your education (not just before graduation!)

So what services do careers offices provide?

In addition to providing relevant online information and resources relating to your career development, careers offices provide a range of specialised services that can be generally divided into three categories. Each category reflects a different stage of your career and this helps you to identify the service that you may require:

Planning your career:

Uncertain about your career paths?

You can make appointments to meet with qualified career counsellors to plan your career development strategy. There will be opportunities for you to explore career options, and how to plan to achieve them. You may also ask about how to develop your own “personal brand” when applying for jobs.

Finding employment opportunities:

Want to expand your networks and access more jobs?

Careers offices organise a range of career events for employers to promote their companies and available work opportunities. This provides you with a unique opportunity to interact face-to-face with employers and enquire more about their companies. In addition, most careers offices manage an online job database that allows companies to advertise available jobs. Jobs in the databases are usually screened by career staff to ensure that they do not exploit students.

Applying for jobs:

Want to know the “Australian” way of applying for a job?

It is always challenging to apply for jobs as you are required to prepare tailored cover letters and resumes for each position. You are also expected to address a set of key selection criteria. After being shortlisted for the position, you must adequately prepare for your interviews and anticipate any questions from your potential employer. Careers offices regularly organise different workshops to address these challenges. They often include tips and advice that highlight the key areas that you must be aware of when applying for a job.

Two reasons why you should engage your careers office:

First, all services provided by university career offices are free.  This is compared to the cost of utilising similar services provided by some private career consultancy companies that range from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars. Most students have the general perception “free” services are not comparable to those you pay for. However, you are paying for on-campus services through your fees.

Second, the 2011 Graduate Outlook Survey (conducted by Graduate Careers Australia) indicates more Australian employers are using on-campus university careers services to promote their graduate programs and job opportunities. As discussed earlier, this may include attending the university career fairs and listing job opportunities on the online job database. Thus, if you choose not to engage with your careers office, it is highly likely you would miss these opportunities.

So what next?

If you are interested to find out more about your university career services, please:

  • Search for “careers” on your university websites and explore the online resources provided by your careers office.
  • Interact with a university career counsellor – remember to have a good think about the questions you may want to ask.
  • Sign up for your careers office’s newsletter or join their Facebook page – this will provide you with regular updates on their events and workshops.

Visit the National Association of Graduate Career Advisory Services (NAGCAS) website. NAGCAS is the national association for careers services in Australian tertiary education. Under “Our Members” section, there is a comprehensive list of career offices in Australia and their websites. Remember, if your university career office does not have the information you require, there is a high chance other universities’ offices may have public information that may assist you.

Visit the Australian Association of Graduate Employers (AAGE) website . AAGE is the peak industry body representing organisations that recruit and develop Australian graduates, including international students. They conduct annual surveys with employers, candidates, graduates and interns – they may provide you with insights into the Australian employment market (see the “Surveys and Research” section).

For tips on how to take ownership of your career development, check out Danny’s previous column.