Early and Often: Why Students Shouldn’t Wait to Engage With UVA’s Career Center

Students walking into the career center between floor to ceiling signs

The UVA Career Center held a Tech Night career fair in several suites at Scott Stadium last week. (Photos by Erin Edgerton, University Communications)

September 15, 2022

The University of Virginia’s president’s box at Scott Stadium was abuzz recently, but it wasn’t because of a football game. Hundreds of students turned out for one of the many career fairs hosted by the UVA Career Center every year.

Tech Night Takeover was spread out in several of the fourth-floor football suites and featured employers from Appian, Capital One, Deloitte and real estate giant CoStar.

If the location of the career fair sounds unusual, that’s because it is.

“The feedback we get from employers is this is the best, most interactive, engaging experience they’ve had,” said Kim Sauerwein, interim executive director of the Career Center. “Students are able to go into each football suite to talk to an employer and then come out and process, rather than being in a huge ballroom kind of area.”

There was also a career counselor table “so that if students are saying, ‘OK, that first conversation didn’t go so well. I’m going to go and talk with a career counselor about how I could do better in the next one,’” Sauerwein said.

What’s also remarkable about the fairs at UVA this year is the outsized student interest after two years of remote programming caused by the pandemic. “Pre-pandemic, if 100 students signed up for a fair, 70 would show up,” Sauerwein said. When contrasted with another recent fair, where 350 students signed up and 400 attended, you can begin to appreciate the large appetite for these engaging and interactive experiences.

“It feels like students are getting more comfortable and more employers are coming to Grounds,” Sauerwein said. “I feel like, ‘Okay, we’re coming back.’ It’s very exciting.”

She said it’s never too early to start taking advantage of all the Career Center has to offer. Although it may seem premature or overwhelming for first-year and transfer students, now is a great, low-pressure time to get started.

Students standing in front of the career center talking
The career fair featured employers from Appian, Capital One, Deloitte and real estate giant CoStar. More than 300 hundred students signed up to attend.

Sign-Up for Handshake

The online platform Handshake is a low-stress, high-return tool Sauerwein says all students should be using. More than 22 million students and young alumni at over 900 universities take advantage of the tool. UVA students will find career resources, find job listings and apply for them and register for career events all in one place.

“I think they should sign up and complete their profiles,” Sauerwein said. “When they fill out their profiles, they have the chance to indicate career interests and then they will receive information that is relevant to their career interests from employers and from the UVA Career Center.”

“I recommend they look at what kinds of jobs are out there and are posted,” she said. “It’s nice to do that while there’s no pressure of looking for an internship or a job right away.”

Come See Us!

The Career Center’s main hub is located in Bryant Hall in Scott Stadium, but it has satellite offices on Grounds to make it easy for students to engage. There is an office right on the Corner in the 1515 building, one in room 170 in Newcomb Hall and another on the second floor of Clemons Library.

“We can help you connect with student organizations that fit your interests, suggest experiential learning programs that bolster your skills and enhance your resume and answer any questions that you have about career exploration and job search resources,” Sauerwein said.

Woman talking to a group of students in the career center
Employers say they love the intimacy of the suites as opposed to the typical ball room scenario.

Identify Your Interests and Your Educational and Career Pathways

Sauerwein said one easy way for students to begin to understand their how their interests match up with various careers is to complete a “PathwayU” assessment. The online platform has four assessments: interests, values, personality and workplace preferences. In as little as 20 minutes, a student will receive a personalized assessment report and can begin exploring their career matches and discovering the best educational path to those jobs.

Get Your Resume in Order

During drop-in hours, a career counselor can help students polish their resumes for maximum effect. Or, Sauerwein said, they can use “VMock” for instant feedback. Using the 24-7 online tool, students can upload their resumes and in return, get feedback on the document’s impact and presentation as well as a bullet-by-bullet scan with suggested edits.

Join the Virginia Alumni Mentoring Program

UVA’s alumni network is known for its passion when it comes to Hoos helping Hoos. The career center’s Virginia Alumni Mentoring program jump starts that support for people who are still enrolled as students at the University.

The program is open to all students and matches people with alums around the world. Support can range from pointers on choosing a major to receiving feedback on job or internship materials, personal brand and career opportunities.

With a staff of staff of 34, UVA’s Career Center always has something going on. Sauerwein said this semester alone, her team is putting on 90 events. On Sept. 22 it is hosting a fair on careers in cybersecurity and a workshop on how to make the most of career fairs now that they are coming back in force.

“We want to help students succeed, whether it’s helping with a resume, interview prep or connecting them with employers for jobs or internship,” Sauerwein said. “We are here for the students.”

Media Contact

Jane Kelly

University News Associate Office of University Communications