With a fast-paced world awaiting them after graduation, University of Virginia students are more eager than ever to identify their passions and get the ball rolling toward a potential career. That’s why University Career Services is working to prepare students for future employment by giving them better resources, earlier.
“Second-Year Week,” a weeklong series of springboard events to help second-year students prepare to enter the workforce, is part of an initiative to get students jump-started on their career pursuits earlier in their collegiate careers. From Jan 26 to 30, students will have the chance to craft resumes and elevator pitches, learn about career possibilities across industries and hear from a range of employer representatives, from Google to the CIA, about how career paths may (or may not) come from their majors.
“First and second year is really when they need to start engaging in these events, so they can talk with employers, learn more and find what they might be passionate about,” said Everette Fortner, U.Va.’s associate vice president of career and professional development. “We want them to learn and have conversations, because when you have really great conversations, you realize that this is a realm of work you’re interested in, and then you can start taking action from there.”
To spur second-year students toward talking with recruiters, those who attend the first two days of panel discussions and workshops will gain exclusive access to a reception with visiting employers the day before the Spring Job and Internship Fair, which normally is aimed at third- and fourth-year students. That networking opportunity could help land them an early internship offer, Fortner said.
During the week, students and employers will also receive addresses from U.Va. President Teresa A. Sullivan and from Ian Baucom, Buckner W. Clay Dean of the College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, who will offer personal stories about their own career development.
At the end of the week, all of the advisers – including association deans, career counselors and those from internship and study-abroad programs – will hold open advising hours, no appointment necessary, to help guide students who have had time to process the week’s events figure out where they might go next.
That’s a reflection of the University’s commitment to total advising, Fortner said.
“It’s all about teaching students how to translate the skills you learn in the classroom into job skills,” he said. “It’s not about forcing them to pick a career objective, but it’s more about exposing them to the language and requirements of employers, so they can begin to develop these over the following two years.”
Jill Ferguson, a second-year student heading up Student Council’s partnership with Career Services during the week, said that it’s important to be proactive when considering career possibilities. After her first year on Grounds, she transferred from the College of Arts & Sciences to the School of Engineering and Applied Science and is now pursuing a self-designed major in materials science and nanotechnology. Post-grad, she aspires to work in engineering policy, and has lined up a policy internship this coming summer in Washington, D.C. after a professor recommended that she apply. She used conversations with professors, deans and UCS to help identify her career goals.
“Personally, second year is critical because what you’re experiencing now is going to shape what you do and don’t want to do,” she said. “That one internship in college can lead you to your next three or four years after college.
“The earlier you get in the back of your head, ‘I’ve done this, this is what I do and don’t like,’ it’s going to make you more marketable. We all want to be able to tell employers, ‘This is what I can do, and this is where I’m going,’” she said.
Ferguson and Michael Coletti, a second-year pre-commerce student who also is on Second-Year Council, are working with UCS to organize the weeklong events for the Class of 2017.
“The premise of this week is for second-years to get their foot in the door,” Coletti said. “If you go to a job fair, you’re going to leave with some insight you didn’t have. Who knows if one conversation spirals into a summer’s worth of opportunities, a new path, a different major? And it’s great exposure to students to UCS, which is an invaluable resource that many younger students may not know about.”
As part of its initiative to expose students to career resources earlier, UCS is also launching a new Internship Center, a one-stop resource to offer connections from across U.Va. It has also initiated a network of targeted “career clusters” that provide information and direct access to career resources, like alumni connections and a comprehensive pool of internship opportunities, to students interested in specific fields. During Second-Year Week, students can attend any of six panel discussions featuring each field to explore their options.
The full list of Second-Year Week activities can be found here.