How to Identify a Robust Career Center

Sarah Breen

Every September, a new group of students embarks on their first year of higher education. Filled with excitement and nerves, they leave home and venture into the beginning stages of true independence. From meeting new friends to finding their classrooms, college begins with a flurry of unknowns. Each of them will say they are attending college to get a better job in their industry of choice, but few think of the full scope of career development outside of their major. Herein lies the importance of the higher education Career Center.

Every great college comes with a robust Career Center. How can you tell if the school you are looking at or enrolled in has a great career development team? Here are some questions to think about:

Is the college committed to embedding career development into the curriculum?

Educating students early about the importance of professional development is key to finding a job after graduation. Many colleges encourage their students to gain hands-on experience through internships. Emmanuel sees the benefits of such experiences and requires all students to complete at least one internship related to their major to graduate.

Internships are key to gaining a better understanding of the field, but what about those other three years of college? It is important that career development is embedded into the curriculum, such as our required first-year Career Planning and Engagement course taught by the Career Center. This helps students understand their skills, find career paths and develop a plan of action to continue their professional development over the course of their college career. In addition, they build the transferable skills necessary to be leader in their fields through athletics, on-campus involvement and part-time jobs. 

Are they connecting with area employers across all majors and student interests?

Students cannot be expected to be experts at networking right away. It is important that a Career Center develop connections with employers and invite them on campus to engage directly with students. Career Centers that have staff dedicated specifically to this endeavor are rare. Emmanuel has an Employer Relations team who are off campus each week, meeting with employers across every major and interest to develop strong connections for our students. In addition, this team brings employers on campus for our Recruiter Series and an annual career fair that allows students to connect directly with hiring managers.

Is the Career Center educating students on the interconnectedness of their major?

Choosing a major is a great day for each student, because they are finding their path! Though not every student will go on to careers that are necessarily related to their major. At liberal arts schools such as Emmanuel, education is seen as holistic, encompassing many disciplines, so every graduate has the skills to be successful across many industries. The Emmanuel Career Center has implemented Career Communities, which cluster certain majors together so students are able to explore various careers within their selected path and connect with more students, professors, employers and events.

What types of collaboration is the Career Center doing outside of the college?

Outside of connecting with employers, robust Career Centers should utilize one another as well. Collaborating with other colleges shows a dedication to assisting every student with their career path. Being in a city with many colleges allows for the best opportunity for this. Nearby schools such as Simmons University, Suffolk University, Boston University and Emmanuel College have connected through an organization called the College Career Centers of Boston. Together, we create targeted events across common majors and invite students from each school to attend. Having this connection encourages top employers to attend as they’ll reach a higher number of students.

Are the staff continuing their training to stay up to date on hiring and career practices?

Hiring practices evolve over time. There was a time when photos, social security numbers and birth dates were included on resumes! Ensuring staff is dedicated to the profession and their own development is key to ensuring every student is getting the most up-to-date information. The staff at Emmanuel attend conferences and workshops and gain certifications through organizations such as the National Association of Colleges and Employers, the Eastern Association of Colleges and Employers, the Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches, the Career Counselors Consortium of the Northeast and various industry specific events throughout Boston.

Sarah Breen
Sarah Breen

Sarah Breen is an Assistant Director of Career Counseling at Emmanuel College. Sarah has a background in human resources and career counseling at the collegiate level. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from the University of Rhode Island and a Masters of Education in Guidance and Counseling from Providence College. She has a passion for working with students on figuring out their career path and assisting them on their way to success.