Melisa Alves, Career Services director at Worcester State University, is hoping students won’t do what she did.
“In college, I didn’t go to my Career Services office until I was a senior and, looking back now, I could have used that support tremendously as there were resources there that I could have used that I just didn’t know existed.”
So, while much assistance is available to seniors, her staff’s goal is to get students to the Career Services office sooner rather than later. “The sooner they come in, the more we get to know them and the more time we have to develop a four-to-five-year plan for them,” she said. “There are so many things that they can do to really build their experience so that by the time that they go to search for a job or apply to graduate school, they have a very well-rounded experience at the institution, in addition to their academic experience.”
The kinds of assistance the office offers students is an ever-expanding work in progress. The WSU Career Services office has undergone major changes recently, including a complete staff turnover due to retirements and people moving on to other opportunities. Alves came on board in April 2022.
The staff has since grown to a team of four. Emily Tremarche ’16 was hired as an administrative assistant in June, Mariel Aleman was hired as a Career Advisor/Program Coordinator in September, and Michelle Kaelin was named Associate Director of Employer Relations in October.
“It’s sad to see people go, especially since there were people here with a lot of institutional knowledge,” Alves said. “But the nice thing about having a new team is that we get to start fresh. We’re really rethinking a lot of what the office does, revamping some services and creating new things in a way that we think will best meet the needs of our students.”
Students can avail themselves of a wide range of help at Career Services- everything from help writing resumes and cover letters, searching for jobs and internships, applying for graduate schools, and preparing for interviews and networking events.
In addition to providing assistance to current students, the office works with recent alumni, who have full access to services up to five years after graduation.
A primary tool is Handshake, a career resource management platform. “When we work with employers, we have them post jobs and internships there,” Alves said. “That’s where students can go and search for opportunities. And what’s nice about Handshake is that it’s really tailored towards college students so there are a lot of entry level roles or internships.”
Another online platform allows students to practice their virtual interviewing skills. Additionally, the office provides in-person mock interviews.
When it comes to dressing for an interview, Career Services has several armoires in their Career Closet packed with donated professional clothing items that students can take and keep, free of charge. There are clothes for men and women in all sizes and some items are brand new. Styles range from business casual to more professional looks.
A recently added Career Services resource is the Strong Interest Inventory, a career assessment tool that looks at how a student’s interests align with people who are successful in various fields. “It uses data collected from people who have been working in a specific job for a while who say that they were satisfied with the job and enjoyed the work that they were doing, then makes recommendations for students based on their interests.” Alves said.
The inventory takes about 40 minutes to complete. “We send them the link and they can do it from their home or residence hall,” she said. “They don’t have to come into the office to take it. Then once they’re done, we get notified and we reach out to them to schedule a time to review their report with them.”
Career Services hosts many events throughout the academic year, including panel discussions, workshops, and networking events. A calendar of upcoming events can be found here.
The staff also goes into classrooms to conduct workshops at the request of faculty. “Let’s say a faculty member needs to be out for a conference,” Alves said. “Instead of canceling class that day, they can request that we come in and host a workshop for their students to talk about the job search process or their next step after graduation. Last semester we did close to 45 workshops or presentations in classrooms. The Worcester State faculty have been very open to having us come in, which is great.”
The Career Services office has daily drop-in hours from 1 to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday or, for assistance that might take longer than a few minutes, students can schedule an appointment through Handshake or by contacting the office at firstname.lastname@example.org or 508-929-8941.
“The Career Services team looks forward to connecting with students and campus partners to provide students with the support they need during their time at Worcester State and beyond,” Alves said.
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