Many say the Career Center is an underused resource at UVA, and I 100% agree. In my experience with the Career Center, I have found a group of patient, caring and supportive counselors who genuinely care about you as a whole person. In addition, they also have a wealth of resources at their disposal, and they are eager to share them! With the help of counselors, I have learned strategies to chart my Career path, gained advice on how to succeed in an interview, and met a wide range of people.
Coming in as a first-year student, I was pretty sure I wanted to be in business. Like any Pre-Commerce student, I diligently signed up for Commerce classes, company info and networking sessions, etc. However, it didn’t take long for me to realize that I had little interest in business, as I kept falling asleep in my crucial Commerce prerequisites. Thus my life entered a period of “existential crisis”; I no longer had an appropriate answer to “What do you want to do after you graduate?”
How the Career Center Helped
Luckily, I stumbled across the newly opened Career Center office in Newcomb. With time to kill and on a whim, I sat down with a counselor to discuss my career goals; or more like, my lack of career goals. The experience overturned my preconception of the Career Center. Before, I thought counselors are emotionally detached professionals who directed you to resources based on the goals that you already have. But what I found during my session was an attentive person who genuinely cared about you as a person. The counselor asked about my interest, listened to my rant about Commerce classes, and worked with me to identify events or resources which would help me discover my eventual major and career. For example, she recommended me to use CavLink (UVA’s old career postings website, now Handshake) to scroll through postings and see which interested me. That way, I have a better idea about what kind of jobs I would like to pursue.
Of course, I didn’t immediately realize what I wanted to do after the session, but I gained a wealth of strategies to find it. So I begin my crazy majors-hop: from business to Chemical Engineering, to pre-med with Neuroscience, to Political & Social Thought or History, then finally, to Computer Science. Using the strategies I learned through my continued visits to the Career Center, I have found a research position, found a mentor, attended numerous events of various career tracks, studied abroad in Germany, found my current job, discovered my passion, and ate tons of free food.
My job as a Career Peer Educator
In the previous section, I mentioned that I even found my job through the Career Center. It turns out that visiting the Career Center so many times led to my discovery of the Career Peer Educator program, which became my part time job. Personally, I think this is one of the most rewarding jobs. Not only do you take advantage of so many resources the Career Center offers, you also meet many accomplished individuals on Grounds. During my work, I have learned about various resources such as Handshake, Vault, Virginia Alumni Mentoring, etc. Through the program, I got to know peers whose interests range from foreign service to technology to media. Through my shifts at Newcomb, I met a Cognitive Science majors who uses her scientific background to work in marketing… In essence, I gained so much from the program while being paid at the same time.
On the Last Note
I still take advantage of resources offered by the Career Center even now. Recently, I sat down with a counselor for a mock interview in preparation for a summer internship technical interview. As a result, I went into my first interview much more confident. I am pretty sure I got the internship because of the counselor’s advice. So please, use this underused resource of Career Center for your own benefit!