[Fresh] Career Services Interview

Kelly Eastland (kelly.eastland@villanova.edu)
Mon, 24 Mar 2003 17:08:44 -0500

Interview with Nancy Dudak, Director, Career Services Office

Fresh@News. Should first year students be worrying about their career choices already, or is
it too soon for them to be thinking about these issues?

Ms. Dudak. We definitely don't think students should be worried about careers, or feeling
pressured about career choices, but it is never too early to start thinking about these
questions.

F@N. What should first year students be doing at this stage?

N.D. The most important thing is for students to commit themselves to their academic work.
Students should take interesting and challenging courses, work hard, and learn as much as
they can. Making a full investment in academics really pays off. Prestigious employers value
hard work and success, as demonstrated both by good grades and also by strong letters of
recommendation. When the academic work is strong, students will have more options when it
comes to choosing a career and getting a job. Strong academic work also pays off if graduate
school is a necessary part of career preparation, since strong students will have much more
access to the better graduate programs.

F@N. What can the Career Services Office do for first year students?

N.D. An excellent first step for first-year students is to make an appointment (or stop by)
the Career Services Office for an initial visit. We’re located in Corr Hall on main campus.
We like students to begin by taking the Strong-Campbell Interest Inventory, an on-line
instrument. It takes about 20 minutes and it generates a profile of the student's potential
career interests. The student then meets with one of our counselors to review the results.
Based on the results, we might want to discuss how the student's interests relate to various
careers, and we might also discuss some ideas about the choice of major, internships,
co-curricular activities, or summer work opportunities.

F@N. What are some of the other services that your office provides for upperclass students?

N.D. Obviously many of our services for seniors are focused on the transition from school
to work or graduate study. The Campus Interview Program typically brings 300 recruiters to
campus to interview graduating seniors. All students can put their resumes online to be
part of a web resume book for employers to search to fill full-time and internship
positions. Job and internship listings are posted on our website. Students also receive
one on one help with resume writing, practice interviews, graduate school essays and
applications, and job search management.

F@N. What kind of summer work and other activities help build a student's resume?

N.D. Employers want to see that students can work hard, interact with customers and
supervisors, and survive in the adult world. And the job doesn't necessarily have to be
directly related to eventual career. Even service-sector jobs (like working in a restaurant)
can give evidence of job-related skills. I would, however, advise students to get some
variety in their summer work experience, rather than going back to the same employer every
summer. If that isn't possible, try to show some increased responsibility each year. As
students get a little further along in their academic careers, internships are also very
important. Co-curricular activities can also be significant, even if they are not directly
related to the career choice. Employers are looking for students who work hard, manage their
time well, and have leadership potential. Being involved with a social service or volunteer
organization can help demonstrate those traits.

F@N. Are there some misunderstandings about careers?

N.D. The biggest one that I hear is that that your choice of a major dictates your career
for the rest of your life. That really isn't true at all. Except for the most specialized
careers, virtually any major can be an asset. A second fallacy is that there are no jobs for
humanities majors except teaching. The question, "What are you going to do with a Philosophy
major?" sometimes reflects a lack of understanding of today's job market. We find that
employers increasingly value the skills students learn in the humanities and are willing to
give them the specialized training that they may need. In fact, our Liberal Arts graduates
are doing very well and in many ways have more diverse employment choices than students from
the professional schools. We do find that their starting salaries are somewhat lower than
students from some of the professional schools (sometimes as much as three or even five
thousand per year lower), but the salaries tend to level out after a few years.

F@N. How are Villanova graduates doing in the job market?

N.D. The class of 2003 is having a more difficult time than the past 3 years, campus
interviews have decreased about 20-25%. We are, however, starting to hear of employment
offers with good salaries, and job listings are starting to be received here in Career
Services after a slow fall season. We hope that things may improve by next fall and we will
continue to work with this year's graduates until they secure positions. Typically about
60% of our students are placed (either in a job or in graduate school) by graduation. By the
fall, over 90% of our students have a placement. We'll see how this year compares.
Employers like our students; they see them as bright and hardworking, but also as practical
and down-to-earth.

F@N. What advice would you give to parents of our first year students?

N.D. Use your skills as a parent to talk to your students about career interests, without
putting pressure on them. Encourage them to think about and explore the relationship between
academic choices they are making and possible career interests. Parents should also
encourage their students to start to make contacts with friends of the family who are in
interesting fields, and to draw on the family contacts for information and leads for summer
work and eventual post-college employment. Sometimes students are reluctant to pursue leads
from their parents because they want to "make it on their own." Encourage them, if you can,
to realize that you are only providing access, the rest is up to them. Reinforce the
necessity of working hard in college. Tough courses, good grades, extracurricular
activities, and pre-professional experience create the profile of the Villanova student who
is valued in employment organizations and graduate programs. Parents might also want to
explore our web site, just to get some idea of the possibilities:
http://careers.villanova.edu

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