During their time at Hiram, students have access to numerous resources that help them design visions for meaningful career paths and prepare for the future through the Office of Career Development. We sat down with Bethani Burkhart, Hiram’s director of career development and she talked about a few of the ways that her office can assist students with the self-assessment process, choice of major and career field, pursuit of internships, application to professional or graduate school, and more.
How does the Office of Career Development help a student select a major?
Many students often struggle to select a major due to a lack of self-assessment and knowledge of the many career paths available. So, our office typically starts by helping students identify a few things about themselves like values, personality traits, workplace preferences, and interests. We then identify a few careers that align with each of those areas and help students research those careers using a variety of electronic resources and tools.
Our office also recently started us PathwayU, an online assessment that takes approximately 20 minutes and can help students identify potential majors and/or careers. The platform also helps students learn more about potential career choices with descriptions, salary ranges, videos, and more. It can also connect with Indeed to show which internships and full-time jobs are a strong match to specific assessment results. And, after a student takes the assessment and gets their results, they can meet with a staff member to discuss and analyze their results.
Finally, the Office of Career Development also hosts several events throughout the year, where students can hear from alumni and other business professionals to learn more about the careers that are out there. We encourage all exploratory students to attend these events!
Why is it important for students to complete an internship or research experience in their desired field?
Experiential learning is a vital component to a student’s career development because it provides them with an insider view of a career field they might be interested in. They also help a student understand more about themselves and allow them to self-assess their workplace preferences through real-world experiences. As an example, we may think that we enjoy one thing but once we experience it in a real-world setting, we may realize that it isn’t our preference.
Internships and research experiences are also a great way for students to ‘get their foot in the door’ at companies that may be interested in working at after graduation. Several companies will hire many of their interns, depending on their internship experience. An internship is also a great addition to any resume for any career field, and it will make the student a more competitive candidate when it comes time to applying for full-time careers or graduate school programs.
Can the Office of Career Development assist students in building a resume and writing a cover letter?
Absolutely! Cover letter writing and resume building are two of our most common meeting topics. We regularly meet with students to review their resume and provide feedback, as well as to address any gaps in the resume and to create a plan for how to fill those gaps. We also meet with students to discuss how to write a cover letter that is specific to them, the job they are applying for, and the company they are applying at. No matter where the student is in the process, whether it’s non-existent or in draft form, we can help them.
In what ways can the Office of Career Development help a first or second-year student versus a third or fourth-year student?
There are four phases to career development – self-assessment, research, decision-making, and implementation. First and second-year students typically focus on the first three phases of career development, especially when it comes to decision-making regarding their major choice. Oftentimes, students will re-enter that decision-making phase in their senior year when trying to determine which graduate program or career is right for them. For the first- and second-year students, we typically help them with identifying their values, interests, personality traits, and workplace preferences to help narrow down a major choice, which involves self-assessment and research. Students who are in their fourth year will typically focus on implementation, which is writing a resume or CV, a cover letter or personal statement, and submitting applications. When a student is between those phases, especially in between decision-making and implementation, they should focus on filling any gaps they have in their resume and continue to build upon their experiences through student groups, internships, research, on-campus jobs, and more. We can also help students with building a plan to address resume gaps!
by Jenelle Bayus