At a college level setting, you may find yourself struggling on choosing your major, finding something specific you enjoy, navigating your way as being a student or even pursuing graduate school. Tom Cath, the director of the Valpo Career Center, sheds some light on the assistance and support the Career Center can provide for students.
“The Career Center is a place for students to go - all students, not just graduating seniors, to get some help with regards to any of their professional development needs,” Cath said.
The staff at the Career Center is there to help students to find exactly what it is they enjoy, unravel the layers of their personal career and help with any issues along the way.
“There are a lot of layers to that whole professional development, to what we assist students with,” Cath said. “It could be helping them learn more about themselves, like their skills, interests, values and those types of things and how they can relate to different work options.”
One of the main reasons the Career Center is so well known on campus is for their numerous resources open for students.
“First and foremost, the most popular [resource] is resume help,” Cath said. “We really want students to get beyond that too because for many students and for many job candidates, that is just one small piece of the job search.”
The staff of the Career Center want students to find what makes them stand out and how they can run that extra mile.
“That means students need to follow up, that means they need to do some networking, they also need to write an effective cover letter and do research and be prepared,” Cath said. “Employers can spot from a mile away someone who is not prepared for these interactions.”
Cath goes on to say that they do not have all of the answers, however they help discover with you some places to look and helpful resources to learn more about yourself as well as your options. This helps align students to grow professionally and personally along their career journey. Cath stresses that it is actually good to come to the Career Center when a student is feeling anxious or frustrated about their future, because they need to know that there are people who want to help and support them in any way.
“[Students] don’t necessarily need to know what they want to do to come into the career center,” Cath said. “Students sometimes think, ‘I have no idea what I want to do, I gotta get my act together and figure all that out before I go into the Career Center,’ and it’s actually the opposite.”
It is encouraged and shown throughout these resources that it’s important to make things personalized for companies, make the effort and find the exact names of the people who you are applying and interviewing with.
Some examples of other resources students can find here are mock interviews, conducting job searches, alumni panels, career and intern fairs and overall strategizing how to find a job. Cath notes that many events are accessible virtually due to COVID-19, and how the Career Center will push to still be here in support and a resource to students. These can all be found through valpo.edu/career-center.
It is also important to note that the Career Center is open to students no matter where they are at in their college career.
“First semester freshman year students have a lot on their plate. They’re getting adjusted to being in new classes, they’re away from home, perhaps with a roommate,” Cath said. “So I’m not sure if in the first semester freshman year they need to open the doors to the Career Center. But perhaps second semester or even sophomore year is certainly a good time - but it's never too early if they’re ready.”
Students are open to visit and attend any career center events at any part of their professional development stages. The Valpo community, and the Career Center, is here to support students no matter what part of their journey they are at.