By Brian Yauger
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 80 percent of college students change their major at least once, and the average student changes their major at least three times. The Individual Career and Academic Advising Office on Youngstown State University’s campus looks to lower this average.
Career Academic Advisor at YSU, Carla Mattiussi, said many people are aware their office helps with resumes and holds mock interviews, but they offer more than that.
“This office is a big part of President’s Tressel’s message, which is having a plan, something he mentions a lot. Sometimes plans change, which is okay, but the point is to always be revisiting it,” Mattiussi said.
Justin Edwards, coordinator of career management at YSU, has taken a different approach to the idea of a career services office. He said a typical career services office is a one-stop shop. He said the Career Services office in Kilcawley Center is a more complete experience that aims to guide students from year one to when they walk out the door.
“Traditionally, the idea of a career services office is, ‘Hey come on down, we’ll build your resume and we’ll send you off so you can start submitting that resume,’” Edwards said. “There’s many other things that we do. Most notably, this year we expanded and re-energized our efforts, not just for the students that are graduating, but for first year students as well.”
The theme of start-to-finish help is one that stuck with Edwards.
“We’re trying to bookend our services for students so that when they first come into YSU they have an opportunity to consider the options for a career, and how we can serve them in that function,” Edwards said. “I think most importantly we give students the opportunity to reflect on their own personality and how that’s going to fit into the entire process.”
One goal of the Career and Academic Advising Office is to prepare students in what is known as career competencies, skills that employers are after and can translate into any field.
The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) made a list of seven skills that students looking to build a career should have. Collaboration, problem solving and work ethic are three of those skills.
A key skill that was mentioned by NACE, and is a focus of the Career and Academic Advising Office, is career awareness.
“To define career awareness is basically, how you manage your own career and set your career path,” Mattiussi said. “We have some really in-depth discussions with students about who you are, is what you want a long-term or a short-term goal, and what skills you would acquire from your major would transfer to another job, should you want to switch jobs later on down the road.”
Nick Walker, a sophomore and student who has used the career center, credits the staff there for helping him stand out on a resume and relating his experiences into real world opportunities.
“The career center made me feel a lot more comfortable with translating my academics into real world applications,” Walker said. “They took a look at my major and pulled out a stack of resumes that alumni have used to get them a career. It made it really easy to give them my trust in what should or should not be on mine when I handed them it.”
Walker recommend students use the career center.
“I think that the career center is a very undervalued resource on the campus,” Walker said. “It just makes the professional development phase that every college student will have a lot easier and faster.”
Edwards said there is no one dream job.
“There’s dozens if not hundreds of dream jobs for most students,” Edwards said. “Students have less than a two percent understanding of all available job titles in the career force. Our responsibility is to expand that and open more possibilities to students.”