Need Career Assistance? Colleges and Universities Offer Ways to Help

College alumni can find help from colleges even after graduation.

Photo: ThinkStock

By Jeff Bellinghausen

As more people face diminishing career opportunities, in this age of layoffs and salary cuts, they may find they have fewer places to turn for advice and assistance. Fortunately, your college or university may be able to offer help.

The New York Times reports that an increasing number of college graduates are returning to the places where they got a college education to request career assistance. College career development departments traditionally only assisted active students and graduates for the year following their graduation, but given the recession, many career development offices at colleges and universities are extending their support to graduates who have been out of school for a longer time.

University of Colorado, Boulder, for example, has hired an additional career counselor to assist alumni with career services. Some of the services being offered at the University of Colorado and other schools include résumé-writing assistance, personality tests, interview advice and networking opportunities, some offered as seminars, while others offered as one-on-one sessions.

Rutgers University reports that it has seen a 119% in alumni contact with career services over the past two years. The school has responded with networking sessions and career seminars geared toward alumni. At a recent networking session, the school paired employed alumni with career-seeking alumni and gave them opportunities to get to know one another; those seeking jobs were able to present their job skills and goals, while those who were employed were able to provide tips and pass out business cards to interested candidates.

In its seminars, Rutgers offers advice to recent graduates as well as those who have spent years in their careers and/or raising families.

Some colleges and universities charge a fee for assisting alumni who’ve been out of school for longer than a year, while others provide these services free of charge. Assisting alumni offers the career development office long-term benefits, as alumni who go on to find careers may be more likely to donate money back to the school or help other graduates in their own career.

In addition to offering career development services, returning to your college or university can allow you to benefit in other ways, like taking new courses that may not have been offered when you were a student and that can be of value in your current career or in new careers you’re considering.

Taking additional courses in your field or specializing in a different area can be the key to advancing in your career, keeping your job or transitioning to a new career. Look at the school’s course offerings to see what courses are offered that may be of interest to you.

Students who have been out of school for a long time may find a number of benefits to going back to college. Many colleges and universities now offer online courses that help students with careers continue their college education without sacrificing their career by allowing them to study from home or on evenings and weekends.

What can you do if you’ve moved away from your college or university? Contact the school to find out if there are alumni networking opportunities in your new area. Or contact local community colleges, colleges or universities to find out if there are courses being offered that would be beneficial for your career.

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