“Start early, get connected, make a plan, finish ahead.”
This is the motto at CSUN’s Career Center.
The Career Center’s purpose is to help new, continuing and graduated students find jobs and internships.
But, it is not only for students who are on track to a specific career. It is also there for students during their college infancies.
“Everything over here is beneficial in a way,” said Raghupreet Singh, a peer educator at the Career Center. “When [students] come here, they are undecided. So, they can choose their major to start.”
Peer educators are also students, so they understand the confusion college can cause for freshmen. Transfers can also benefit if they want to switch majors as they transition into the CSUN community.
“A peer educator is really like a bridge between the student and the university,” said Megan Saraceni who is also a peer educator and a psychology major. “We’re trained every week. It’s really in depth and we’ve all been here for over a year. We can critique resumes. We can give advice and help students with resources.”
Singh said researching and picking a major is just the beginning to planning out a student’s courses and potential job prospects. Of course, any major can lead to new discoveries for students.
“One major can lead to so many different things,” said Singh. “For example, take marketing. You can go into advertising, you can go into sales, you can go into marketing as a field. Even psychology majors can come into marketing where consumer behavior and research is involved.”
The Career Center has a message: students can use the available resources to put them on a path, but that path isn’t final. It’s a jumping off point.
If students are unsure about what they want to study, they don’t have to worry.
The Career Center offers workshops every semester on everything from choosing a major to creating a resume.
There are also assessment tests.
“If you are clueless, you can take a test and see what people who like the same things as you are happy doing.”
Sure, it’s not an exact science, but it can push students in a direction if they didn’t already have one. Then they can decide if that direction feels right.
That’s where experiential learning becomes relevant, Singh said. It is a key ingredient when deciding on a major and eventually a career.
“That’s a success story. When [students] want to do what they have read, they have to start from the grassroots level. And once you start working, sometimes you like it and sometimes you don’t like it,” he said. “I’ve considered internships, fellowships and job shadowing as GEs for your major. You start working there, you find it, you feel it and once it is done, you can say ‘Ok, now I want to excel here.’”
The Career Center also helps students find jobs on campus. Singh says most jobs on campus are through the work-study program, which is routed through the Career Center.
The work-study program can benefit students by providing an opportunity for them to work within their majors.
Instead of the usual customer service jobs that are also offered on campus, these students can learn essential skills tailored to their interests and even earn awards towards their tuition if they win the coveted CSUN work-study student employee of the year.
If students are interested in the work-study program, the Career Center can assist them in making their resumes and cover letters. They can also learn what can be expected during an interview.
But, students must realize they have to seek out the Career Center first.
“More students should use the Career Center,” said Saraceni. “I feel that there are some students who absolutely utilize us and it really pays off for them.”
Singh said many students are not aware of what the Career Center can really do for them.
“The irony is, they don’t know about it,” Singh said. “Even if they come here for University 100 class, after a while, they forget about it. It’s not in their routine. They should be reminded more often so that they realize that this is a resource they can utilize a lot.”
Besides academic and career advice, the Career Center could be an alternative to an overcrowded library or a noisy coffee shop. Students don’t have to feel obligated to work on career-related projects every time they go.
“I think also what they don’t realize is we are actually a really comfortable atmosphere. We have couches. There’s no rule about drinking in here, so you can bring your coffee in and take a book out, or sit at the computer and explore,” Saraceni said.
The Career Center has over 400 biographies in their library documenting successful people a variety of careers. With these resources, along with helpful peer educators and counselors, it’s hard to find a reason why students wouldn’t take advantage of the Career Center.
“Everyone here is here to help,” said Saraceni. “There are no things to jump through. You don’t have to apply for this or do that. We’re just here to help. So, you come at your own pace and wherever you’re at, we’ll meet you there.”