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There is never a better time to get started using LinkedIn then while you are still in college. Unlike Facebook, which you’ve probably used primarily for your social life, LinkedIn should be reserved for your professional life.  And even though you are a couple of years away from your first professional job, now is the time to start building your LinkedIn profile and network. LinkedIn is a very powerful business tool and a “must have” for all professionals. 

I recommend that by the beginning of junior year, you already have a finely tuned LinkedIn profile and that before graduation you have at least 100 LinkedIn connections.  It’s’ easier than you think. Here are the 4 basic steps:

  1. Since you will need to have a polished version of your resume before you graduate, you can save yourself a step when creating your LinkedIn profile. Begin with a well written copy of your resume. Many college career offices offer a free resume review service or you can hire a professional resume writer (most qualified resume writers carry the CPRW certification).

  2. Once you have your completed resume, create a LinkedIn account and upload your resume to create your initial profile. Revise your profile as necessary especially in the Additional Information section.

  3. Join at least five professional groups. Don’t know which groups to join?  Start with your college and/or alumni association. Add three others based on the career fields you are considering. Then, add one more based on volunteer work that you’ve done.

  4. Connect with at least 100 people. This might sound like a large number, but if you break it down, the number is manageable. Let’s assume you have four more semesters before graduation and you have five classes per semester. If you connect on LinkedIn with three of your classmates in each of your remain classes, that’s 60 people and be sure to include your professors which is another 20 people. You can easily find an additional 20 connections or more among your friends, roommates, teammates and fellow student group or student club members. That’s 100+!

You will be well on your way to your own professional network.

College Career Centers are understaffed, underfunded, underutilized.

Even before the current global pandemic caused havoc across the economy including higher education, college career centers faced big challenges (read "How the Financial Impact of the Pandemic May Affect College Career Centers") that impact the students they serve.

Everyone agrees-- students, parents and the U.S. population at large agree that the purpose of going to college is to get a good job after graduation. While higher education offers an implicit promise to help their graduates land that good job after graduation, many colleges are not fulfilling that promise to all students.

While college career centers should play a large role in fulfilling that promise, they are understaffed, underfunded, underutilized, and ineffective for many students.

Understaffed - 2,917 students to 1 career center staff person

Career centers serve a critical role for students as they explore their professional interests, seek internships, and ultimately search for full-time opportunities after graduation. One challenge is that the median career center employs only 4 full-time equivalent staff members (3 professional staff and 1 clerical support staff). On average, the staff spends about 55% of their time in student-facing work.

And this is the most alarming statistic. . . the ratio of students to career center staff is 2,917 to 1. Career centers are drastically understaffed and do not have enough staff to fully support the students they serve.

Underfunded - $5.49 per student

Even before the current financial impact of the pandemic, the median operating budget in 2017 was $35,000. According to the U.S. News and World Report database of 1,200+ institutions, the average number of undergraduates per institution is 6,365 students. Using this data, the estimated average operating budget for college career centers is $5.49 per student. Career centers can only do so much with their limited budgets.

Underutilized - 39% never visit their career center

Nearly four in 10 students never visited their career services office or used online career resources, including more than one-third of seniors. Overall, 39% of US college students (35% of college seniors) report that they never visited their career center, and 19% report that they visited their career center one time.

Ineffective - 61% say the career center is never or rarely effective

In a survey of more than 4,000 students, 61% say their career center is either never or rarely effective at helping them land a job and 57% say the same about the career center's support in helping them figure out a career path. Almost one-third (29%) of career centers are either never or rarely willing to connect students and alumni for networking.

While some colleges and universities are making great strides in transforming their career services offerings, many college students must navigate the transition from college to career with little or no support.


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The financial impact of the coronavirus on college and universities is staggering like it is across much of the economy. In response, many schools have been forced to lay off faculty and staff, furlough employees, eliminate entire programs, and make substantial budget cuts. Some institutions are facing losses of more than $100 million as a result of the crisis.

According to a July 21st University Business article, the University of Massachusetts system is facing a $264 million deficit and will lay off 6% of its full-time employees and furlough thousands more. And the University of North Carolina system directed its campus chancellors to submit plans for a 50% “worst-case scenario” budget cuts.

It is not a giant leap to expect that college career services offices will be impacted as well. Prior to this crisis, career center budgets increased at a very modest rate-- less than 6% since 2011 according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), the trade association for college career centers. The overall median career services operating budget (non-personnel) in 2017 was $35,000.

As of mid-May of this year, a NACE Quick Poll reported that 14% of career centers expect a decrease of more than 10% in their operating budgets and 51% were still undecided. Only 27% of career centers report no expected change in their budgets. I expect that if this poll was conducted now, the results would differ with many of the “undecided” being forced to cut their budgets as a result of broader University cuts.

What does this mean for college students returning to campus-- especially Seniors? Students should not expect “business as usual’ in the career services office.

There may be staff reductions in career services offices. Even if the staff levels remain unchanged, students can expect longer lead times to schedule one-to-one appointments with career counselors due to increased demand.

Many of the traditional career programs and in-person events sponsored by the career centers may be canceled. Some programs may be offered online which requires a different kind of preparation. You can expect virtual job fairs and information sessions by your school’s top recruiters. It is important to determine what resources and programs will be available and sign up as early as possible. Students should not wait until after classes begin.

Due to many companies reducing or eliminating business travel, students may not see the same employers as in 2019 coming to campus to recruit and interview. In this case, college seniors looking for a job should take the initiative to contact these employers and inquire about full-time opportunities.

#CareerReady #CareerCoach #CareerGoals #Careers

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