ETSU University Career Services helps Bucs from first-year students to alumni

Published 11:31 am Monday, February 12, 2024

Never too early to plan your career

“Start now. Don’t wait. It’s never too early to start planning for your career.”
That’s the message Jenny Lockmiller hammers home to East Tennessee State University students every chance she gets. Everything the director of ETSU’s University Career Services (UCS) office and her staff do is focused on one thing: helping the university’s students go from enrolled to employed.
They start early by helping first-year students engage in career exploration to figure out what they want to do. Some may have no idea what direction they want to go, and others have a general idea.
“We do have those few first-year students who come in and absolutely know what they want to do,” Lockmiller said. “But that doesn’t mean that when they’re a senior, they’re still in that same place, so exploration is very important.”
One place UCS staff reach students is through ETSU 1020, the first-year experience course, of which career exploration is an important component. A new element in this year’s course added some fun for students – and alumni. In the fall semester, ETSU 1020 students could sign up for a 30-minute conversation with a young professional who had graduated within the past five years.
“They got to ask questions that I think were a little unexpected for both groups,” Lockmiller said. “They asked things like ‘What time do you have to be at work?’ ‘Is your salary what you expected it to be?’ Do you have enough time for your hobbies on the weekends?’ ‘What’s one thing you realize now was a waste of time in college, and what’s one thing you wish you had done?’
“So the questions weren’t ‘What made you want to be a nurse and what were the steps you took?’ It was more of a conversation about ‘What’s your life like as a nurse?’ When students are planning a career, we don’t want them to get to senior year and realize, ‘Oh, I don’t want to be at work at six o’clock in the morning on Saturdays, so maybe being a doctor’s not the best thing for me.’ It helps them to get a better understanding of what the job actually feels like.”
The sophomore and junior years are all about “trying on” different careers, Lockmiller said. UCS matches students up with internships and other experiential learning activities. Students can participate in site visits, job-shadowing experiences and conversations with young professionals during these years to help determine their career goals.
All the while, UCS can help students add these activities to a master résumé, so that when the senior year arrives, the fine-tuning can begin. Staff can assist students in picking and choosing the best activities from the master résumé to create a résumé that is tailored to a specific job.
UCS offers several activities students can take advantage of at any time:
Focus2 is an online career exploration tool that will provide a list of potential careers based on a student’s answers to a series of questions. Students are then encouraged to explore these career possibilities to see if one might be a good fit.
Every ETSU student has access to Handshake, a platform that connects students with potential employers for jobs and internships.
UCS regularly hosts career fairs, including one for students of all majors and one for nursing majors every fall, and an education career fair in the spring. For the future, plans are in the works to organize more targeted networking events for students in a variety of majors, such as the arts, to meet and interact with potential employers in their specific career fields.
New this spring semester is a drop-in Career Studio in the UCS space in the Carrier Center on the second floor of the D.P. Culp Student Center. Staffed by student workers who are trained as peer mentors, the Career Studio is a place students can visit for a quick résumé review, assistance with a job or internship search on Handshake or a mock interview. Students can visit the Career Closet to pick an outfit for a class presentation or interview, and also have a professional photo taken in the new photo studio that can be used on LinkedIn or other social media.
The services UCS provides are not just for students. ETSU alumni are eligible for all the assistance that students receive, including résumé reviews, access to Handshake and Focus 2, interview skills practice and more.
“We can help alumni explore careers through Focus2 and other activities to figure out whether a career change is what they need,” Lockmiller said. “They may need to rethink a career that might be becoming obsolete, or perhaps they just need additional skills to help them in their current career.”
To learn more, visit University Career Services at etsu.edu/students/careers, or contact the office at (423) 439-4450 or careers@etsu.edu.

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