Many colleges offer career development services with job listings and other helpful resources for students and alumni.
Ask any college student and he or she will rattle off a list of common complaints about college life, ranging from "my professor is such a jerk" to "the cafeteria food sucks."
One very valid "complaint" that was pointed out in a recent TIME magazine special report on higher education was that 83 percent of the general population "strongly or somewhat agrees that there is a disconnect between courses offered at colleges and students' career goals."
So what does this mean for today's colleges and universities? For one, said Dr. Charles Michael Austin, author of the new book, “How to Find Work ... And Keep Finding Work for the Rest of Your Life,” "A mandatory career development course program needs to be integrated into every college curriculum, beginning the day a student starts college."
Are you curious about colleges that are doing just that? Check out these five schools and take notes for your college or university.
1. The Career Development Center at Point Park University
The Steel City's downtown university has upped the career preparation ante by offering career-focused events, like the 2011 "Etiquette Dinner," where students had the opportunity to learn the etiquette skills they need for career networking and job interviews. Local business professionals attended the event and students were even given tips for attending business luncheons.
The Career Development Center also helps students develop professional skills by offering one-on-one sessions with career counselors who can help a student set career goals, search for jobs, find networking opportunities and learn how to develop a professional network. Students and alumni are also able to utilize the Point Park Career Network a job search website that offers a free tool where students can set up and manage a career website.
The school, which has campuses in Providence, RI, North Miami, FL, Denver, CO, and Charlotte, NC, offers a unique connection between the classroom and industry.
"The JWU system places experiential education at a high value for students to be prepared and competitive after graduation," said said VA Hayman-Barber, Director of Experiential Education & Career Services JWU.
Two programs the school requires are an 11-week long internship and a career management course. Hayman-Barber said approximately 50 percent of students are offered employment after the internship experience.
"The university also has a career management course offered to students who are pursuing a four year degree," she said. "This for-credit course provides students with information on resumes, interviews and the process of building a career path, not just getting that first job right out of college. The course also focuses on financial literacy, including credit scores, debt and budgeting."
3. The Biomedical Sciences Program at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, NY
Not only does the program offer top-notch health sciences classes to students who are enrolled in the biomedical program, it also encourages students on a pre-med track "to take business classes as electives in the biomedical sciences major because the College feels strongly that some background in business will be useful to future physicians," said Mindy Popp, managing director and principal consultant at Popp & Associates in Wellesley, MA.
Popp said she recently came across the program while helping a client apply to the school and felt like it did "a great job of preparing students who want to work in the health sciences field."
"My client was very drawn to this program and likes the business electives option." Popp said. "He feels it could help him because one day he wants to manage his own practice. I think that Marist has done an excellent job of crafting a science major that prepares students to successfully meet the diverse demands that are presented in health sciences careers. While similar programs focus just on traditional pre-health requirements, Marist is wise to encourage students to also take business courses to have a well-rounded education."
4. The Career Center at the University of Notre Dame
The Fightin' Irish have a separate career center website devoted to career preparation for undergraduates, graduates and alumni. The site enables past and present students to search for jobs, current employers to post opportunities, and resources for faculty and staff to connect with "real world" professionals who can come and speak to their classes. Students also have the opportunity to utilize the Career Center's online database, pursue postgraduate opportunities, sign up for interviews, and conduct career-related research.
5. University of Mount Union in Alliance, OH
The school offers students a dedicated Office of Career Development where they can get help choosing a major that best suits their skills, research various job opportunities, and ask for help in testing and applying to graduate school.
The center also offers a helpful Student Career Timeline that guides students toward decisions they should be making throughout their freshman, sophomore, junior and senior years.
Are you in a college without career prep programs?
So, what do you do if your school is lacking in career preparation courses and information? Tell them you want them! Reach out to professors and other students who might be interested to start the conversation. Talk to your school paper to see if someone will put together an article about your efforts. And if you are already involved at an internship or have access to other professionals, and then don't be afraid to ask a lot of questions. Some of the most useful career preparation advice will come from people who are working in your field of interest.
- Study other schools' career preparation programs and gather ideas for what you would like to see offered at your school.
- Ask questions when meeting with other business professionals or working at your internship to gain on-the-job knowledge.
- Don't be afraid to reach out to professors and fellow students to gather support for more career preparation programs at your school.