by Jonathan Scott, Class of 2017
The University of Rochester has great resources for career advancement. The Gwen M. Greene Career & Internship Center offers many resources designed to get students connected with employers; the Handshake portal in particular is an online resource that creates a network of efficient communication between college students and employers. From my experience, this resource and the employees at the Career Center are definitely things you should take advantage of at Rochester.
The quality of a school’s career center was not on my priorities list during my college search. In hindsight, I am still not certain whether it should have been a priority. It seems to me that the friendships I have built and the professors who have influenced my development throughout my four years are the most integral contributors to any good fortune or success I have experienced.
However, as bookends are to an array of books, so is the Career Center to the knowledge and experience you will gain here. Their advice gives structure to what skills you can offer an employer, clarity on how you should offer those skills, and the resources, such as Handshake, necessary to obtain an introduction to an employer in the first place.
For these reasons, I think it is important for you, as you consider which college or university to attend, to think deeply now about what help you may need in the future—beyond the first couple years when you have settled in with friends and declared a major. At that point, not too long from now, you may recognize the importance of a service like the Career Center, as I did, and feel fortunate that Rochester has such helpful resources dedicated to personal and professional development.
During the first week of my freshman year, a senior on my golf team informed me of his success with the Career Center during his time at Rochester. Perhaps the most important piece of advice he gave me was to develop a relationship with the Center early in my time at Rochester. At the time, my resume consisted of my sports activities, high school community service, various scholarly organizations, and the fun fact that I like to play guitar—none of which was particularly appealing to prospective employers.
Attending Rochester was undeniably the most significant feature on my resume. Nevertheless, I took my friend’s advice and met with the Career Center midway through my first semester. I found my friend’s advice about starting early to be advantageous. My first meeting was a very simple one-on-one with an employee who had general expertise. Our discussion didn’t lead to anything lucrative, as I wasn’t looking for a job at the time. It did, however, acquaint me with the career scene. I left the meeting with the same resume, but also with a refined vision of how my close peers express themselves professionally.
Over the next year and a half, I scheduled meetings periodically with the Career Center and more often when a career day was upcoming or I had a desire to update my resume. The sensible amount of meetings throughout my first few years kept me in the career loop and prepared to aggressively pursue an internship during the fall of my junior year.
I found the Handshake interface incredibly helpful for the job search and application process. Each Rochester student may create a profile similar to LinkedIn, with an integrated system for resumes and cover letters. Applying to jobs was easy, and there were numerous interesting and relevant job postings available to anyone meeting the minimum criteria and well-defined company expectations.
Attend career events
Periodically, Rochester provides opportunities for you to apply for on-site interviews with employers in various major cities. I applied for an interview with a New York City bank that was looking for students earning computer science degrees. The actual application process was no more difficult than confirming that my resume and cover letter addressed why I would be a good candidate, and then clicking submit. Handshake handled the rest. Within a few days, I received a notification from the internship center and on Handshake that I had been asked to do a first-round interview in New York City. It was a very professional event and resulted in a summer internship and a subsequent job offer.
With much confidence, I can say that the Career Center has had a very positive impact on my experience at Rochester. Through it, I have been able to extend the benefits of my Rochester education into developing my future career. As a whole, the freedom of class requirements here has given me the opportunity to explore my interests and develop a depth of knowledge. The caliber of my peers has inspired me to be self-motivated and focused on my education. My internship demonstrated to me that my Rochester education prepared me well to add value in the workplace.