Many times students become so focused on earning their degree that they forget about life beyond the walls of the University. The University of Maine Career Center is a helpful resource to explore the ways in which your degree might be applied in the “real world.” It also offers vital tools for students who are undecided. Students can explore their academic interests as well as the relationship between a major and various career opportunities. It is never too early to think about a career after college and the staff members at the Career Center can provide individual counseling to help students explore career options, set career goals, and devise strategies for reaching these goals.
As we all know, the job market these days can be highly competitive and employers are looking for employees with both soft skills and hard skills. If you do not know the difference between the two you should. Hard skills are specific abilities that are based on a person’s knowledge and occupational skills. Some examples include: speaking a foreign language, customer service experience, public speaking experience, or a specific degree. Accordingly, having at least a rough idea of a possible career path is very helpful, so as to begin gaining requisite skills and experience and a suitable employment background as early as possible. The Career Center can help with this. During individual counseling meetings, they can help give you some suggestions on possible career paths based on your interests and desires. They can also help you set up a plan to obtain that goal, providing you with ideas for potential internships, volunteer opportunities, or part-time jobs that will give you a good background to make you a successful job candidate after you graduate.
Once you are gaining the valuable experience, you will need to have a proper resume to show off your background and skills. A resume will often be the first impression future employers will have of you, so you want to be sure that your resume is professional and complete. The Career Center can help you polish your resume to professional standards. A sharp, clear resume can make the difference between a call for an interview or sitting in filing cabinet gathering dust.
While hard skills will get you the interview, it is the soft skills that will land you the job. Soft skills are much more personality based and more intangible. They include such characteristics as having strong communication skills, being a strong team leader or being a good team player, having great organizational skills, and being reliable and responsible. These are skills that you want to be able to exhibit during an interview. Accordingly, being fully prepared to show off your soft skills is essential. And again, the Career Center can help. They offer the opportunity to have mock interviews between you and a staff member. As an added bonus, they video tape the entire interview so that you can go back and critique your performance, see what you did well and where you need to improve. Having a mock interview with a Career Center specialist is an excellent way to gain experience in being interviewed, to help prevent “first interview jitters.”
In addition to all of the in-person resources, the Career Center website is full of information and helpful links. The centerpiece of the website is CareerLink, a student career management system. There you will find jobs and internships, for both during your college career and after. You will also find background information about the different companies and institutions that are looking for employees. Partnered with CareerLink is Going Global, which provides international employment and internship information. For students who are still undecided or on the fence about a chosen major, there is What Can I Do With This Major, which shows various employment opportunities that are open to specific majors. And then there is the Maine Mentor Program, which matches students up with alumni from their field of choice, so that they can get an inside view of what working in that field is really like. These sites are just the tip of the iceberg. Explore the entire site and find out all that the Career Center has to offer.
Although you should be focused on your academic career while you are here at UMaine, it is wise that you also look ahead to the future and understand where you want your degree to take you. Remember, it is never too early to begin planning for the future. The earlier you begin planning, the more experience you will have to offer. So schedule an appointment to meet with a staff member at the Career Center today and get started on your future!