The looming question of what comes after graduation can be daunting. Students at Valparaíso University (VU) are in luck, though, thanks to the tools and support available at the Valparaiso University Career Center that connects them with internships and networking opportunities, among other resources.
The Career Center provides all students guidance on jumpstarting a career after graduation. The Center offers something for everyone at any stage in their career journey, including resume building, job fairs, and mock interview sessions.
“This is a place where we help people navigate from being students to becoming employees,” said Tom Cath, Director of the Career Center at Valparaiso University. “We always want to learn more about the student and find out who they are in order to guide them where they want to go.”
Cath said the sooner a student interacts with the Career Center, the better, and that it is good for students to be open-minded and explore every avenue. Internships, in particular, can set students up for great work experiences and give them practical opportunities that ensure they are in their desired field.
Last year, the Career Center spearheaded fairs in four major categories: business, engineering and science, non-profit and government, and nursing and health. Employment or internships were available at hundreds of local companies in these sectors, including Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater NWI, United Way of Porter County, ArcelorMittalUSA, Centier Bank, La Porte County Family YMCA, Community Hospital, Franciscan Health, La Porte Hospital, Porter Starke Services, VNA of NWI, NiSource, Inc. (NIPSCO), and more.
To prepare for career fairs and interviews, Cath said the best bet is to interact with the Career Center early and begin planning a resume even while still in school. Students can walk in to the Career Center at any time and sit down with someone who will help them maximize their resume’s potential. Appointments are available as well by calling or emailing. Cath said most employers look for candidates who can showcase their skills well.
To be among one of the most recommended candidates, Cath suggests following up with potential employers frequently and in a timely manner.
In addition to offering the career fairs and other ways for students to connect and interact with potential employers, VU also uses the Jobsite Handshake, where jobs and internships are added every day.
“It is crucial to take action and master all of the skills you can,” Cath said. “Connecting with people is equally as important. Sometimes you may not find a posting for a company, so you have to reach out and show your interest.”
The Career Center offers mock interviews to help students polish their professionalism and approach to job interviews. Upcoming sessions are March 23-27.
Valparaiso University reported 97 percent of its 2017-18 graduating class are now employed. According to Cath, 37 percent of recent grads have gone on to work with a former employer.
Persistence and positivity are key in the process.
“You will inevitably hear the word ‘no’ more than once,” Cath said. “You never need to get discouraged though—you just have to keep plugging away.”
Valparaiso University’s next career fair is April 16 – in The Harre Union on Campus. To learn more about the Career Center and all of the events they sponsor, click here.