HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (May 31, 2013) - Some students come to The University of Alabama in Huntsville knowing exactly what they want to major in, and with that, exactly the career they want to pursue. Others come with only the most vague idea. Either way, the Student Success Center's Career Development Office is here to help.
Unfortunately, said Career Programs Manager Kellee Crawford, "a lot of people don't know we are here or don't understand the type of support we provide." That's why, for the first time, the Office will be presenting a breakout session at this fall's Orientation entitled "Planning Your Charger Path: A Guide to a Successful Career."
The goal is to catch students as early as possible. "We want to stress the importance of building an academic and career plan," she said, "one that goes hand-in-hand with graduating on time while still incorporating experiential learning opportunities."
And integral to the building of that plan is two powerful tools, known as FOCUS and the STRONG Interest Inventory. "These tools help students understand themselves at a deeper level - What are they good at? What do they care about?" said Alan Constant, Director of the Student Success Center.
Michael Mercier | UAH
Career Coordinator Candace Phillips, Director of the Student Success Center Alan Constant, and Career Programs Manager Kellee Crawford.
That's important, because students often pigeonhole themselves into what they think they should be doing instead of what they enjoy doing. "They may say they want to be an engineer because their father was an engineer and their grandfather was an engineer," said Crawford. "But then they realize that they hate math and feel lost."
That, in turn, can lead to the student taking a semester off, or worse, leaving UAH altogether. "It becomes a retention problem," she said. "So what FOCUS does is get them in touch with who they are through a series of self-assessment tests. It opens doors that the students don't even think about, and that's exciting."
The STRONG, which is more career-oriented than FOCUS, then takes this one step further. The thirty-minute assessment helps students identify their ideal career field based upon their personality type, whether realistic (doers), investigative (thinkers), artistic (creators), social (helpers), enterprising (persuaders), or conventional (organizers).
What FOCUS does is get them in touch with who they are…It opens doors that the students don’t even think about, and that’s exciting.
Career Programs Manager of the Career Development Office
"Some will take the STRONG early in their career and then take it again as they get closer to graduation," said Crawford. "Sometimes the results change because the student has grown a lot since they took it, and sometimes they're the same and that reinforces the choices the student has made."
Of course, after determining their academic and career paths, students are then faced with the daunting challenge of actually finding a job, be it an experiential learning position or a full-time one once they graduate. Fortunately, Crawford and her fellow career coordinators Candace Phillips and Amanda Adams can help with that too.
"We work with students on all phases of career preparation to include resume building, interview preparation, professional communication, and business etiquette," said Crawford. "We also have a search engine for our students and alumni, called Charger Path, to help our students post their resume and find jobs with employers."
But the rest of it, she added, is up to the students themselves. "We don't do any job placement," she said. "We help them learn how to be as solid as they can be in the job market, but they have to get the job on their own."
And starting early is the key. But even for those students long past Orientation - and even graduation - it's still not too late. "We definitely recommend they come in to discuss experiential learning opportunities by their second year," said Crawford. "But all students and alumni have access to all of our services for a lifetime at no charge."
The Career Development Office provides a comprehensive career development process that includes career coaching, major/career assessment, job search assistance, on- and off-campus recruiting, and multiple experiential learning options for students. Appointment hours are Monday, Tuesday and Thursday from 9am to 4pm, with walk-ins on Wednesdays (during the fall and spring terms only) from 9am to 4pm.
You may also be interested in: