Get Career Guidance at Your US University Career Services Office

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By Sakina Taher
Last updated on July 9, 2024

Frequently using your university’s career services can help you make the most of your college experience and set you up for success after graduation. Discover how to leverage your school’s career center throughout your studies.

This photo shows a female international student sitting at a STEM internship in the USA, which she got after applying for jobs for students and getting career guidance from Shorelight advisors.

Did you know that graduates who use career services receive more job offers on average compared to those who do not? University career services offer a great way for international students to learn how to start building their careers and work toward their dream job. Whether it’s getting involved with your school’s career center, working with a career coach, or taking advantage of Shorelight’s Career Services for international students, you’ll find diverse career development programs and resources that give you the tools and connections to work toward your professional goals with confidence.

Read on to learn more about career services and how Shorelight’s career experts can assist you on your professional journey.

What Are University Career Centers?

University career centers help students explore options and pathways for their future career. A career center typically offers a wide range of resources enabling you to research possible careers in your field, develop technical and professional skills to enhance your resume and portfolio, prepare for job interviews, and more. 

Your university may also have connections with leading companies and alumni, who you can connect with to gain firsthand information on potential career options. Additionally, a university career center often hosts career fairs, networking gatherings, and similar professional development events.

For example, students at the University of Wyoming who want to build career experience can explore a variety of opportunities through UW Handshake and Career events, including campus jobs, off-campus internships, and full-time jobs. Wyoming’s Handshake platform features more than 11,600 job opportunities at top local and global employers ready to recruit students for both full- and part-time roles.

Here are a few key benefits of working closely with your university career center.

  1. Discover career opportunities — The career services team can provide valuable insights and data on various industries and fields to give you a better understanding of your job prospects. A career coach can conduct tests to identify your skills and academic strengths, and can support you in creating a career development plan to kickstart your future career.

  2. Understand the job market — Career coaches provide valuable information on the current market for job seekers in your field, salaries for specific roles, future prospects, and hiring trends. With this information, you can make informed decisions about your career choices and identify potential roles you can pursue.

  3. Access community support — Connect with peers facing similar challenges, such as navigating language barriers, work visa regulations, and understanding work culture, and learn how you can succeed. A career center can also connect you with alumni to gain advice on job search strategies, applying for available positions, and hiring trends.

Additionally, a university career center can offer a wide range of resources, including webinars and workshops on how to write a resume and cover letter, how to prepare for interviews, and how to network. Through career fairs, partnerships, and alumni, they can often connect you with potential employers.

Let’s take a closer look at the specific services you can access at career centers.

What Does a Career Center Offer?

A career services center ensures students have access to career guidance resources, including job application support, internship and mentorship advisory services, and individual assistance with career counseling and coaching. Universities like the University of Wyoming also host many career fairs throughout the academic year. At career fairs, students can meet and network with employers seeking interns.

Here are a few other services you can benefit from at a career center:

Career assessment — With a combination of your input and self-assessment sessions, a career center lets you explore your skills, qualifications, and interests to narrow down your best-fit industries and the job roles you would like to pursue. Advisors can direct you toward courses and skill development activities to learn more about the qualifications hiring managers are seeking.

Internships and job placements — Career centers often receive postings for internships, mentorships, and other job-shadowing placements from companies looking to hire graduates. Counselors can connect you with professionals who can provide insights into the hiring market and show you where to look for opportunities like job placements or internships.

Resume development and interview prep — Career centers prepare you for the job search process by teaching you how to create and update a resume and how to prepare for a successful interview. They may even host workshops or one-on-one sessions for practice interviews.

Professional online presence — University career counselors can guide you on using platforms like LinkedIn and Instagram to showcase your professional identity, interests, skills, and qualifications for potential employers.

Networking with professionals — Most career centers organize career fairs and events, giving you the chance to meet potential employers, learn about their organizations, and gain valuable insights into different careers and industries before you graduate.

With support from your university’s career center advisor, you can start building a plan to work toward your chosen career while you study — and achieve your goals by the time you graduate. Plan out your career goals and milestones as early as your freshman year and develop the skills and knowledge you need to be an expert in your future job role.

How to Make the Most of Career Centers

As you progress through your college years, career development becomes an ongoing process where you can benefit from specific advice and assistance at different stages. Use the following as a general career roadmap for your bachelor’s degree program.

Freshman Year

The beginning of your college journey is an opportunity to explore your interests, both academically and professionally. During your freshman year, set aside some time to think about long-term career paths that suit your degree. Consider also looking out for community service, volunteering, and short-term internships to develop valuable experiences and foundational skills you can transfer to many different careers.

Here are a few tips to plan out your freshman year:

  • Attend orientation sessions to learn more about available resources like career assessments, job listings, and graduate school application guides.

  • Join clubs or organizations related to your career interests to gain experience and build a professional network.

  • Attend career fairs and employer sessions to learn about job prospects.

  • Take advantage of career assessment tests and workshops to explore different options.

  • Meet with a career coach to discuss your interests.

  • Begin building your resume with assistance from career advisors.

Sophomore Year

Your second year at university is a crucial time to work on your career development plans. At this point, you may be more confident with life abroad, and can expand the list of career development activities you can try out. Your career coach may encourage you to recognize the experiences, courses, and co-curricular activities you enjoyed over the last year to identify the areas that most interest you.

Here are some key points to keep in mind during your sophomore year:

  • Seek out internships in your field through your career center and by speaking with your academic advisor.

  • Create a LinkedIn profile and network with alumni and professionals in your industry.

  • Participate in mock interviews and practice your interviewing skills.

  • Attend employer information sessions and networking events to grow your professional network.

Junior Year

During your junior year, your priorities and timelines may change depending on your academic program and other job placements you might pursue, such as an internship. Planning the next steps with a counselor will give you time to focus on your goals and pursue opportunities while balancing the time spent on your studies:

  • Reflect on your interests, knowledge, and how your experience and skills connect with your future career options.

  • Update your resume and cover letter to reflect your skills.

  • Narrow down your career interests and look for potential employers in your preferred sectors.

  • Participate in summer internships or co-op programs to gain relevant work experience.

  • Attend job fairs and recruiting events to meet potential employers and learn about job prospects.

  • Explore graduate school opportunities.

Senior Year

Your final year can be a challenging time to balance your professional pursuits, as there are many advanced classes and assignments to complete. Work with your advisor to plan out your schedule and milestones, so you can balance your responsibilities with your professional pursuits and have a career plan ready by the time you graduate.

Consider the following career planning steps during senior year:

  • Schedule a meeting with your career advisor to explore effective job search strategies.

  • Look for workshops, lectures, or guides that teach you to evaluate job offers and negotiate salaries.

  • Consult alumni and professionals in your industry to gain insight into job search strategies.

  • Think about applying for advanced qualifications, such as a master’s or PhD program, which can qualify you for more advanced job roles.

Along with your university advisor and career services, Shorelight counselors provide personalized step-by-step assistance for international students to support your professional growth from day one.

Career Services Offered with Shorelight

Shorelight Career Services are designed specifically for international students, helping you build core skills and grow as a professional. Whether you need assistance navigating US employment regulations or want to accelerate your career, Shorelight has a variety of services ready to assist you.

Benefit from services such as:

  • Assistance in understanding the different types of employment available for international students and graduates, including eligibility criteria and allocated hours.

  • Tips on how to find opportunities through job boards, networking events, skill-building workshops, and your professional network.

  • Guidance in creating and maintaining a professional resume and cover letter that meets US industry standards.

  • Interview preparation, including tips on test-taking, dressing appropriately, answering common interview questions, and strategic interview techniques.

  • Assistance with the visa extension process, including valuable information on Optional Practical Training (OPT) and Curricular Practical Training (CPT) programs.

With Shorelight’s expert career counseling services, you can gain the knowledge, skills, and resources you need to stand out to employers in the US and anywhere in the world. Work toward your dream job and develop your career while you pursue your academic goals.

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