For many seniors at Southern Utah University the focus of their final year is directed at finding a job or career path as they prepare to graduate.
This can be a daunting task. Perfecting a resume, writing a cover letter, finding references and searching for internships or jobs are all important factors in pushing your professional life forward after graduation.
That is where the SUU Career Center comes in. Their goal is to aid current SUU students and alumni in creating a comprehensive and professional portfolio.
They help with multiple facets of deciding a career, such as deciding on a major or a career path, finding an on-campus or local job in Cedar and developing a comprehensive resume.
A common misconception about the Career Center is that it primarily helps seniors. Assistant Director Geoff Lewis emphasizes that all students are welcome and that it’s important for freshman, sophomore and junior students to take advantage of the available resources.
“If you wait until your final semester of your senior year and say ‘alright now I am going to get ready for my career’ my heart breaks every time,” said Lewis. “… We still do everything we can to help them but I wish they would come when they are freshmen because writing a good resume is not just writing it, but drafting it and making sure the format is good, and then revising it for each job.”
Along with wanting to help with the documentation needed to find a good job, the Career Center is also here to help students gain access to the hidden job market where, according to Lewis, approximately 80 percent of job opportunities are found.
Through learning how to network and create connections with employers at job fairs early on in their college career, students are setting themselves up for success.
“Approximately 20 percent of job opportunities are posted somewhere,” explained Lewis. “That means [the majority] is never posted anywhere and you can only access those opportunities by knowing somebody, and that’s not to shut people out, but that’s totally because of trust. If I have already worked with you… not only are you the first to interview but when we have a position [employers] will reach out.”
In order to help students take advantage of these networking opportunities, the Career Center has organized and sponsored job and career events.
At the beginning of the fall and spring semesters, the Career Center has traditionally organized job fairs with local businesses to set up incoming students with a local job.
Later on in the semester at their Career and Internship Fair, the Career Center brings in employers looking to fill full-time jobs and internships. These events are focused on helping younger students practice networking, while also allowing older students to begin finding career-focused opportunities post-graduation.
In addition to these recurring job fairs, the Career Center also offers other fairs such as the graduate school fair, an accounting night, an aviation career fair in partnership with the aviation department and a teacher interview fair.
An important aspect of the Career Center is that the resources they offer are not just for current students of SUU, but also for alumni.
“When you graduate, your relationship with us doesn’t end. As alumni if you have questions [such as], ‘Hey, can you look at our LinkedIn profile? Or can I send you my resume or get some advice?’ [then] we are with you for life.”
The Career Center offers resources such as finding on-campus jobs, a professional closet for interviews, working on other documentation such as cover letters or references and LinkedIn profile development.
As SUU changes, the Career Center is planning on changing and adding to the resources they offer. According to Lewis the Career Center is currently partnering with the Department of Workforce Services located behind Lin’s Grocery Store to create a summer job fair for not just SUU students but also for the whole Cedar City community.
In addition to these changes, the Career Center is interested in incorporating specialized fairs such as a STEM fair if students begin showing interest in those events.
The Career Center is a helpful resource for SUU students, including online students, on-campus undergrad students, graduate students and even alumni.
“We are here to help,” stated Lewis. “Everybody who works here does it because we genuinely care about helping people. We come from a variety of backgrounds, we have seen a lot of different things and we want to help you to avoid some of the mistakes that we and your fellow classmates and alumni have made in the past. Please come in and we will help you any way we can.”
Those interested in developing their future and taking advantage of the resources available at the Career Center can find them in the Sharwan Smith Student Center in Suite 204, call them at 435-586-5420 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Story by Alex Greenwell
Photo Courtesy of the SUU Career Center Facebook Page