Advice from career center adviser: Learn to be a specialist and generalist

Julia Beyer

With the job market bleak for many graduating seniors, students are turning to career centers for help with life after moving the tassel.

The career advisers at American University strive to provide networking opportunities, teach students interviewing skills, find scholarships and find internships or jobs. Julia Beyer, the career adviser of the Schools of Communication and International Service at American University, said her job is to “give specialized advice.”

When it comes to advising students to take unpaid internships, Beyer tells college students, “it’s a way to get your foot in the door.” Whether it is a paid internship, an unpaid internship or includes college credits, “They help you figure out what you want to do,” Beyer said. “And sometimes [the internships] turn into full-time jobs. I would not have gotten the job I have now if it hadn’t been for the internships I took on.”

Internships and jobs during college can never hurt the organized and persistent student. “[Students] learn so much more with doing both at the same time because one complements the other,” Beyer said. “It is important to be as well-rounded as you can to increase your options. Sometimes you end up at a job completely irrelevant to what you studied,” she laughed. “But it doesn’t mean it was time wasted.”

In the field of networking, Beyer teaches her students to uphold an air of honesty and to be upfront about their current positions. “Some people feel they have to know what you know,” she stated.

Beyer also said it is useful to have a common factor when pursuing networking events. “Alumni network is key,” she said. “You wanna have something to talk about with employers.”

Beyer said she encourages her students to look at career centers when visiting colleges because it is an important part of the college experience. She said many students are well aware of the current economic situation so they come into the center earlier to get a leg up. “The best thing to do in this economy is take control in what you can,” she said.

American University students Madhavi Reddi and Tarika Lall said they found the career center most helpful in learning how to develop a resume. Reddi said advisers “give you that reassurance.”

However, as an international student from India, Lall found that the career center was not a major part of her college decision. “They do direct you and show you online how to find internships, but they won’t get you in touch with employers,” she said.

Students who start building their resume early are able to apply for jobs before others and might be able to tap into the “hidden job market” before the influx of applicants hear about an open position. Scheduling informational interviews is another proactive step towards opening students up to potential employers, she said.

“A lot of positions out there aren’t widely advertised,” she said. “It’s always easier to ask someone for advice than a job.”

Beyer told students to be open to all opportunities.

“Be a specialist and a generalist at the same time. Just be persistent.”