After the pomp and circumstance of Commencement is over, career questions can perplex recent ASU graduates. (Photo credit: ASU Now)
I have a confession to make - the first few years out of college were completely mystifying to me as far as my career was concerned. I had a degree in magazine journalism — in my hometown in the Midwest, which had maybe at best 10 magazine editing slots available at that point? I had a side hustle, but wasn’t sure where I should pitch stories or if I should focus on magazine writing or more corporate projects.
I would have welcomed knowing that my alma mater (again, a public university in the Midwest) could have helped me big time when it came to settling on a career path, getting to know major players in that field, and/or taking the steps to finding my first few full-time professional jobs. For that reason, it pleases me to no end that Arizona State University (my present employer) has a robust and thriving University Career Services program, which is poised to help current students and alumni alike when it comes to getting off to a good start in the professional world of work.
Cindy Parnell, executive director of University Career Services, during her podcast interview.
In the most recent episode of The Alumni Experience Podcast, I spoke with two Sun Devils who know about what University Career Services has to offer: Cindy Parnell, executive director of the unit, and Katie Bassett, a 2013 graduate who used Career Services before she graduated. Both of them had great advice for alumni of every age for conquering the job market in 2016. Here’s a quick recap.
Katie Bassett (third from left) at her 2013 Commencement ceremony.
Highlights of the “Early Risers - Career Advice for Young Alumni” episode
- Career Services is a way for people to learn about what’s trending in the marketplace, as well as learning techniques for connecting with employers, Cindy noted. Many Sun Devils don’t realize that they can come back and receive access to services after they graduate.
- Recent graduates should definitely include information about student groups on their resume, Cindy said. It’s a great opportunity to showcase their leadership talents and their ability to stick with an organization. Also, group projects are good to include on your resume because so much work is accomplished through interdisciplinary teams, she said.
- Alumni do not have to live in Maricopa County to receive sources from Career Services. The Resume Dropbox and InterviewStream are two coaching services that alumni in any location can access.
- Cindy said that all alumni should consider learning how to use online career tools because they offer convenience and targeted approaches to networking, as well as make it easy for alums to get themselves in front of a greater number of recruiters (who are using online tools to expand the pool of candidates for the positions they are filling).
- Katie reports that she expected to be “a success overnight” after graduation, but learned quickly that “life after graduation was far from structured or smooth.”
- She relied strongly on University Career Services and classes in her business school curriculum, such as WPC 101, to advance her knowledge of career choices during her school days.
- After deciding to make a pivot in her career shortly after graduation, she reported that she gave up social-media time and happy hours to build up her LinkedIn profile and make contacts to learn about the best places to focus her career search.
- Katie says she relies heavily on her ASU alumni peer network when considering career choices. “All the connections that I’ve made so far through college, they’ve served as mentors,” she said.
- She mapped out a specific strategy for reaching executives who had positions to which she aspired. She says she did her online research before approaching them, and followed a specific formula when composing an introductory email. She also emphasized to never EXPECT a job offer from these informational interviews — great things may come to you, but not if you walk in expecting a hiring decision.
There’s even more great advice in the podcast, so listen to the episode in the player embedded below, or click here to listen to it on the Soundcloud page.
~ Liz Massey is managing editor for the ASU Alumni Association and lead producer for The Alumni Experience Podcast.