Last Friday, Danielle and I represented the Student Professional Development Center at Elon’s annual Organization Fair. Every campus organization (clubs, sororities, fraternities, etc.) sets up a resource table while first-year students wander around collecting candy, flyers, and pamphlets. While our office isn’t an “organization”, we do strongly encourage students to get involved on campus and use our services to learn how to articulate campus involvement in their job search.
Once our table was set up (with large bowl of candy conveniently placed in the front) we waited for students to rush up to us with tons of questions. What we found was that they were very hesitant, for several different reasons. Some were not aware that the SPDC houses the Office of Career Services and others didn’t want the thought of career planning to ruin their afternoon fun. Fortunately, Danielle and I didn’t mind being the bearers of career news. We knew that if we didn’t do something to grab students’ attention, they would continue to walk past their chance to connect with a very important department on campus. And then, we got an idea. We decided that every time we made eye contact with a student we would smile and exclaim, “Do you know what you want to be when you grow up?!”
Ding, ding, ding! That was the million-dollar question!
Of course hardly any of them knew the answer, so they came over to find out how we could help. We snagged a few seconds of their time to explain who we were, what we did, and where they could go for an appointment. The result was that we talked to so many students that we ran out of informational handouts! We got to shatter the idea that Career Services is a scary, intimidating place that you avoid visiting until your senior year. But it was also a bit of an awakening experience for us. Danielle and I realized how resistant students can be to facing their career planning fears and that it is our job as university professionals to be proactive in seeking them out. I certainly didn’t expect to spend my Friday afternoon yelling at passersby like a 1920’s newsboy, but I did – and it worked!
- Campus involvement is critical to your career development process. Just ask Alexander Astin!
- It is never too early to visit the Career Services center – the sooner, the better!
- Passive promotion does a disservice to everyone.
- Students’ comfort zones are not always as broad as we’d like to think they are. Sometimes we have to leave our desks, grab some candy, and meet them halfway!