A career isn’t really a destination. It’s a journey that continues long after college graduation.
That’s why Shenandoah University’s Career Services Office extends its expertise not only to students searching for the right majors and careers, but also to alumni who want to make career adjustments. “We offer all of our services, completely free of charge, for life,” said Assistant Director of Career Services Amanda Grantham.
Career Services shares abundant online resources with alumni on the alumni-specific section of its website. The site connects alumni to everything from resume and cover-letter-writing advice and examples to the service Big Interview, which allows job seekers to hone interview skills by creating video responses to mock interview answers, and then reviewing those answers with friends, family and career services professionals. The office will also help students and alumni in-office, by conducting mock interviews of all types (in-person, phone, video) and assisting alumni with Skype interviews. Grantham noted that the office can set up an alumnus (or alumna) with a space at Smith Library on the Winchester campus, so that they can conduct a Skype interview in a quiet, professional place.
More than 60 alumni have contacted Career Services for assistance since May, Grantham said. The office has also had around 900 unique meetings with students in that same time period.
Additionally, alumni can take advantage of MyPlan.com, which Career Services also uses to help current students find a major and/or career path they’ll truly enjoy. The service assesses a student or graduate’s personality, values, skills and interests. Ultimately, the sweet spot, in terms of a career, is finding the joint answer to the questions, “What do you really love to do and what are you good at?” Grantham said.
Also, for alumni interested in making a career switch, “We will help with the job search process,” Grantham said. The office will help graduates organize the business contact and job application deadline information they’ve accumulated on an easy-to-use spreadsheet, as well. “I love a good spreadsheet,” said Grantham, flashing a grin. For students, the office recommends learning about a career by participating in a job shadowing experience over a school break. Grantham recalled a student who shadowed both a nurse and physician assistant (PA) and called the shadowing experience her “lightbulb moment,” in understanding that she wants to be a PA. The student is still an undergraduate, but has already become a Certified Nursing Assistant to be involved in direct patient care earlier.
Career Services also assists alumni interested in graduate school. Its staffers help both students and alumni with narrowing down and applying to graduate programs and crafting personal statements. And, it holds a wide variety of Career Services events on campus and takes students to major regional events, such as a career fair at the University of Virginia this fall and the D.C. Sports and Entertainment Career Fair this month.
Career assistance even extends into personal marketing – the office features a pop-up photo studio, where alumni and current students can have a quick, professional photo of themselves made for a variety of uses, including social media (think LinkedIn) profile photos.
The Career Services Office recently grew to include two additional full-time staffers, Employer Relations Coordinator Jimmy Smith and Career Education Coordinator Kristin Stephens, who work alongside Grantham and Career Services Director Jen Spataro-Wilson. “We’re always on the lookout for what’s up-and-coming in career services,” Grantham said of the group. They’re constantly at the forefront of career services, and are always considering what students, faculty and alumni need from a career services office.
Grantham is proud of the work of the office does, and she tears up a bit when she thinks of the emails they receive letting them know how their advice has helped. “It’s so fulfilling,” she said, before adding that seeing students and alumni succeed is something more – “It’s amazing.”