Long gone are the days of a career services office that simply helps a student format
and proofread her resume and sends her on her way. There’s technology that can do that.
Today, when a student walks into SUNY Oswego Career Services with a draft resume in hand, he is invited to set the resume aside and talk through his goals with a career coach—and not only a career coach, but a coach who specializes in the student’s area of interest.
“We have adopted an industry-centric model of advising and that has encouraged us to approach our interactions with students differently,” said Gary Morris ’88, director of Career Services (pictured above). “Where we bring value is articulating your past and present within the context of what your future will demand.
“I often tell students it’s very difficult to hit a target that you can’t see,” Morris said. “And part of our job is to help our students develop, identify and define a target that they can swing at. Then we help them swing for all they’re worth.”
To help in this process, the office is set up around four industry areas: Business and Communication; Health Care/Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM); Performing Arts, Media and Entertainment; and Education and Public and Human Services. Another staff member is dedicated to helping undecided students explore a variety of majors and career possibilities.
Staff members have developed expertise in their assigned areas and have built relationships with employers in the related industries who often host interns in experiential learning opportunities at their businesses.
For example, Career Services staff traveled to Syracuse to meet with Brown & Brown of New York Inc., which employs nine SUNY Oswego alumni among its 95 employees and is currently hosting three student interns. The Career Services staff members received a tour of the office and an overview of the company as well as had the opportunity for more informal conversation over lunch.
These trips and interactions with professionals give the staff members more insight into specific industries and the employers who are interested in SUNY Oswego graduates.
“So now we have staff members who might work with a student who wants to be a software engineer, and they can look at the student’s resume and design that document with the end in mind, reviewing the set up, the headings and vocabulary to make sure that it matches the vocabulary and design of that particular industry.”
So far, the new approach—which is only three years old—has received rave reviews from students. For example, in 2016-17, the office conducted 1,796 professional one-on-one career coaching appointments. Of those, 95 percent said through an anonymous survey that Career Services was “very helpful” and the remaining 5 percent said the coaching was “somewhat helpful.”
Feedback from anonymous surveys of more than 4,000 students over the past five years showed that 78 percent of students found Career Services “incredibly helpful” and another 19 percent said “generally helpful.”
In addition to the career coaching by specific industries, the office also provides some more unique services like the LinkedIn photo booth, where students can schedule an appointment or drop in during set hours to have a portrait taken to use in their professional online profiles. They can also meet with a Digital Dirt Squad member, who will critically assess students’ online presence and enhance their online reputation.
“I don’t know of an employer who doesn’t use Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or LinkedIn to assess a potential employee,” Morris said. “Our Digital Dirt Squad will talk to students about how to leverage the power of social media to project a professional image related to the future they want; it’s not just about getting rid of the red solo cup. It’s about using social media channels to intentionally design an online presence that your future will find appealing and interesting.”
In addition to receiving positive feedback from SUNY Oswego students, Career Services has also garnered statewide attention, winning three of five awards, as well as a special commendation, at the 2017 SUNY Career Development Conference.
Jenny Roxas earned the Individual/Rising Professional Award, given to a professional with less than five years in the field demonstrating innovation and effectiveness in Career Services, and an Excellence in Student Engagement through Implementation of Career Development Programs Award, for her efforts around her particular industry of “Fine and Performing Arts, Media and Entertainment.”
Roxas and Mallory Bower earned the Excellence in Inclusivity Programming or Initiatives Award for new programs or initiatives toward building diversity and inclusion to one or more student/alumni demographics, recognizing the series of diversity programs they planned and implemented throughout the year.
In addition, Christy Harrison Huynh ’98 M’08 CAS’08 and Jackie Campbell Wallace ’02 M’04earned Presidential Awards for Excellence for providing complete leadership for the conference, which ran June 14 to 16 in Syracuse.
In 2016, Oswego’s Career Services also earned the organization’s statewide capstone award for the new model, as the best initiative of any SUNY school’s career services operation across any category of awards.
Career Services Available to Alumni:
Below are details for some of the best online tools and resources—provided by Career Services and free for alumni to use! Career Services has purchased access to programs like:
- Optimal Resume: job search documents, practice interviews, portfolios and more;
- CareerShift: many job opportunities, networking contacts and company research in one interface;
- CandidCareer: over 4,000 informational interviews on hundreds of careers and jobs;
- FOCUS II: a comprehensive self-assessment program (skills, abilities, values, etc.).
Additionally, alumni are welcome to attend campus programs and events, including: career fairs, etiquette dining events, workshops and conferences.
Information on all of these tools and an events calendar can be found at oswego.edu/career-services
Top five resume tips:
- Connect your past and present to the future skills and experiences required.
- Say what you need to say, and stop writing. It is not an essay.
- Don’t list what you did. List what you achieved.
- Use the vocabulary of the industry you want to enter on your resume.
- Be honest.