A Long September

And there’s reason to believe

Maybe this year will be better than the last

I can remember the last thing that you said as you were leaving

“Oh, the days go by so fast…”

September is easily the busiest time of year for your university’s career centre.

There are myriad new students scurrying about, many of them in a frantic search for part-time jobs or volunteer opportunities on or off campus. Their résumés are in disrepair, their bank accounts are running on empty and, despite their enthusiasm, they’re not sure what they’re doing or where to look. Wait times for career advising appointments skyrocket as a rush of students flows in continuously.

But it’s not just appointments that are keeping your career centre’s staff busy. They are organizing career fairs—and you really have no idea how much work goes into organizing an event as big as a campus-wide fair until you’ve had a behind-the-scenes look at it. (We employ AISEC interns to help out with our fair every fall.) They are developing and facilitating workshops. They are presenting at orientations. They are training volunteers. Why, they’re even writing blog posts!

Indeed, the level of activity comes to a boil every September, and how most career centre staff handle it is a mystery (lucky for us, counselling services is located right next to our office!). Around here at least, there’s a healthy level of gratitude and deserved back-patting afterward. Somehow every year, we run a longer and tougher gauntlet, and survive.

Of course, students know what it’s like to have a lot of things on the go at once. It seems like every semester, midterm season starts a week earlier and ends a week later than the one before. Faculty, administration and support staff are also coping with the rush. The entire post-secondary institution holds its breath and bravely puffs out its chest for an entire month, sometimes longer.

In other words, September can be a tough slog at any university.

I’ve been reminded recently that students may not realize this, so I’ve outlined a few items of interest below, should you find yourself in need of career-related help around this time of year in the near future.

1. Don’t expect services to be as fast as they normally are.

Your student fees do go a long way toward providing quality student services on your campus, including those of your career centre. However, if our career centre is any indication, your own has learned to get the most out of its relatively small number of staff. This means that advisors (like yours truly) are also organizing events, managing social media channels, working with employers and recruiters, and much more. Serving students is still our highest priority, but it might take a bit longer than usual—and we hope that students can manage their expectations accordingly. For example, I recently had a student email me with a request to critique his résumé in time for him to send in an application that same day! While at another time of year I may have been able to pull this off, there was just no way I could do it.

2. Take advantage of mass-delivered services.

Because there are so many students wanting help in September, it’s a great time of year for career centres to deliver lots of mass-delivered programming, such as workshops, information sessions, kiosks and fairs. Mass-delivered services allow your career centre to reach a larger group of students with fewer staff resources, so they become pretty important in times of high demand. If you have a wait a couple of weeks to see an individual advisor, make sure you are taking advantage of these great events and resources!

3. Make use of online resources

If you’re reading this, you likely already know about some of the online career resources that are available to you. But are you fully aware of all the ways you can get great information online from your career centre? With the recent social media boom, most career centres are getting valuable career information out into cyberspace in as many ways as they can. For example, my career centre has a reguarly updated Facebook and Twitter account, faculty-specific e-newsletters and a blog.

4. Volunteers to the rescue!

Lastly, most career centres recruit dedicated, enthusiastic volunteers every year to provide quality peer advising services to students. They are thoroughly trained, and they offer a unique perspective and relate to students in a way that a staff advisor often can’t. They help our own centre tremendously and (trust me when I say this) they are kept busy once their training is done. So let them help you out!

I hope your September is going well!

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