5 Insights We Gained During an Appointment with a Career Advisor
Regardless of where you are in your academic journey, you’ve likely noticed that Walden strives to create a supportive environment for its students. Enrollment Specialists, for example, establish support at the start of your Walden experience, while the Tutoring Program and the Writing Center provide academic guidance throughout your program. But equally important are the services—like Career Planning and Development—that set you up for success beyond your journey at Walden.
To better understand the resources that Career Planning and Development offers to students, peer mentors Shannon Gentry and Sherry Wilson each booked a one-to-one meeting with a Career Advisor. As undergraduate Psychology students who already have a clear sense of their career goals and confidence in their chosen paths, what could they possibly have to gain? As it turns out, quite a lot. Below, Sherry and Shannon share what they learned during their recent appointments with the Career Planning and Development team:
1) You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know
As a Walden student, you may already have a full-time job and more professional experience than the average college student. With that experience comes crucial job-hunting expertise, but remember that, over time, employers’ expectations around the application process change. In addition, expectations vary from field-to-field and from lower-level to higher-level positions, and so, your post-graduation job search may differ from other job hunts you’ve performed.
Prior to her appointment, Shannon noted that she felt confident in her job-seeking skills: “I have a steady job, and I feel like I have learned a lot over the years about resumes and job seeking, to the point where I have become the one that most people go to for advice.” Even so, Shannon later reported, “I learned quite a few new things that I didn’t know before, much to my chagrin. I learned that resumes do not necessarily have to be restricted to one page, that there are job searches available posted exclusively for Walden students and alumni, and that [Career Advisors] will help you learn how to maximize the use of LinkedIn.”
Despite her ample work and job-seeking experience, Shannon realized that her knowledge was limited and, in some cases, out-of-date. Whether you are a novice jobseeker or a seasoned professional like Shannon, an appointment with the Career Planning and Development team can bring you up-to-date on career-related trends.
2) Don’t Put Off Career Planning
Because Career Planning and Development specializes in career-related support, you may assume that you only have access to this service when you are ready to begin your post-graduation job search. Sherry, who is about halfway through her B.S. Psychology degree, noted, “I personally had the assumption that this resource was something I would tap into towards the end of my Walden journey.” However, she later admitted, “I was very wrong.”
As Sherry learned, there is a good deal that you can do early on in your academic program to prepare for your future job hunt. In addition to building networks that help lay the groundwork for a successful career search, you can begin honing the skillset required of your desired career: “Especially if you are not sure where to start,” Shannon advises, “The best thing you can do is set up an appointment, so that [a Career Advisor] can get to know your goals and point you in the right path for skill-building.”
Most importantly, if you are unsure of your career goals, make an appointment with a Career Advisor sooner rather than later. And when you do, Shannon suggests that you “Come with questions. If your question is ‘I don’t know where to start,’ or if you have several, [the Career Planning and Development team] will definitely know how to guide you.”
3) Professional Associations are Important Networking Tools
Networking, or building connections with others in your field to develop your skillset; learn about job opportunities; and exchange information, is a vital part of career development. When we think about growing our network, we often start with who we know: faculty, former co-workers, other students. Accordingly, both Sherry and Shannon were surprised to learn that professional associations are also valuable networking resources. As Sherry put it, “I get those emails [about professional association opportunities] all the time and never understood their importance in networking.”
In fact, joining a professional association is one of the quicker ways to build your network. Professional associations with a strong online presence allow you to tap into a large global network of career-minded professionals. However, Shannon also appreciated her Career Advisor’s focus on “local or state professional organizations, as opposed to national.” Connecting face-to-face with individuals in your own community is a great way to build lasting, meaningful relationships with professionals who share your values and interests.
4) Interviewing Takes Practice – Career Advisors Can Help!
If you are uncomfortable talking about yourself, or if you freeze up when put on the spot, you may feel intimidated by the prospect of interviewing. But, like most anxiety-inducing tasks, interviewing becomes easier with exposure.
“The most helpful piece of advice I received,” Sherry says, is that a Career Advisor is available to “conduct a mock interview with you, if you need to practice.” Mock interviews with an experienced, knowledgeable Career Advisor allow you to sharpen your interviewing skills in a low-stakes environment. During a mock interview, advisors offer tips and strategies, inform you of common interview questions, and provide constructive feedback on your performance.
Even if you feel confident in your interviewing abilities, conducting a mock interview can help you identify and work through potential vulnerabilities. If you have a gap in your resume, for instance, a Career Advisor can coach you through appropriate responses should it come up during an interview.
5) Find What Makes You Unique
When applying for jobs, it’s common to feel, as Shannon put it, “un unique.” Naturally, employers receive far more applications from qualified candidates than necessary to fill a position, so how do you ensure that your application makes an impression?
During her appointment, Shannon “learned that Career Advisors’ biggest focus is on helping you market yourself in a way that highlights how unique you are to a potential employer.” This means that a Career Advisor can help you develop your brand—that is, what makes you a stand-out candidate in your current or desired career field.
Ultimately, both Shannon and Sherry agreed that any Walden student, regardless of their degree program or career aspirations, would benefit from an appointment with a Career Advisor. You can, of course, schedule a meeting to address specific questions regarding resumes, cover letters, or interview strategies. But what’s more, Career Advisors are there to remind you of your unique potential: as Shannon concluded, “I left the conversation feeling like I had someone in my corner.” Whether you are looking for general career advice or a much-needed pep talk, the Career Planning and Development team is available to guide and support you no matter where you are in your Walden journey.
Ready to start planning your career and developing your professional skills? Here are a few resources and offerings to explore!
- Take the How Can We Help You? career quiz
- Register for a Drop-In Advising session on the Career Planning and Development homepage
- Search for job, internship, or volunteer opportunities
- Update your resume with new skills
- Explore new career possibilities
- Create a career plan
- Schedule a career advising appointment
Emily Bruey, Undergraduate Peer Mentor Program Coordinator