Career Center prepares students for life after college

Graduation is swiftly approaching and a new batch of Western students are about to enter the real world.

How are they going to prepare for this drastic change in life? How are they going to find a job and present themselves as professionals?

Western Carolina goes above and beyond with assisting students to prepare for the future. Between the Career Center and Advising Center, there are specific classes in many programs dedicated to helping students develop professionalism and create a plan for the future.

Director Theresa Cruz Paul at career fair. Photo provided by The Center for Career and Professional Development.

The Center for Career and Professional Development offers students a wide range of services in a variety of ways.

“We offer one-on-one and drop-in appointments for resume writing, cover letter writing, interviewing, job/internship searching, graduate school preparation and career counseling,” said director Theresa Cruz Paul.

Cruz Paul added, “It is important to have a professional look at your resume and cover letter because often job candidates will overlook small grammatical mistakes or formatting problems that someone on the outside will notice.”

Student Xaviera Watkins has plenty of experience working with the Career Center on polishing her professional pieces.

“I had resume editing and professional site finding where I received help from Dean Paulk with editing and revising my resume for an internship.” Watkins said that there was a great emphasis on knowing how you are represented online. “We took time to look at what pops up when you search my name online and how to make all of my profiles more presentable.”

Paulk is the Internship Coordinator for the Center for Career and Professional Development that holds internship orientation sessions and individual training with faculty for the departments that coordinate their internships through the center.

Paulk suggests that students start building their professional profiles and begin internships as soon as possible.

“It’s never too early to get an internship!  For academic credit, most departments require a student to be a Junior or Senior.  However, I would strongly encourage students to seek out experiential learning opportunities throughout their academic careers.  This could include informational interviews, shadowing, and internships.”

Student receiving support from Internship Coordinator Dean Paulk. Photo provided by The Center for Career and Professional Development.

Paulk added that most successful students are the ones who are focusing on professional development from day one at WCU.

The Career Center also offers a variety of workshops that are designed to teach students about professional etiquette. These include personal finances, dressing professionally, providing customer services and even a “Senior Bootcamp” that is a series of two workshops that focus on obtaining a job and succeeding in your first year after college.

For students that are in the process of applying for jobs post graduation, there are specific amenities that the center offers.

“Our center has two interview rooms that students can reserve for Skype or phone interviews, to ensure that they have a quiet space with the necessary technology in order to alleviate many of the concerns that may arise with virtual interviews,” said Paulk.

The Center for Career and Professional Development offers students guidance, support and resources even after students graduate.

“I would suggest that students find a counselor that works for them and continue to stay in contact with that counselor for additional guidance and help,” said Cruz Paul. Having a network of professional individuals that know you personally and are willing to help might just make the difference in the future.

Cruz Paul left off with the biggest piece of advice she has for soon to be college graduates.

“My last suggestion would be to remember that applying for positions takes work. You may send out many resumes and not hear back from a lot of those organizations. Don’t lose heart! Keep at it and continue to get guidance and support along the way.”

Hear what some of the students had to say about their plans after graduation.