From campus to cubicle: how you can master career-worthy skills in college

Natalie Spears, Barbara Bell, Special Features Editor, Print Managing Editor

For University students, there is immense pressure to get a job or internship after graduation. Long nights in Bertrand Library, 8 a.m. classes, and a newfound coffee addiction are all rites of passage for a sophisticated life in the real world. By senior year, students have mastered the art of college, but have to start thinking about how to conquer the professional world. They need to utilize skills they’ve accumulated throughout college to succeed in their post-grad endeavors. Fortunately, the University offers opportunities to foster and market key skills through different departments on campus.

Educational Value:

The Career Development Center (CDC) offers many services and is available to all students (and graduates) of the University.

Staff are able to help students define their skills and interests, as well as explore and identify possible career paths and develop effective internship and job search tools (résumés, cover letters, LinkedIn profiles, and interviewing strategies),” Executive Director of Career Services Pamela Keiser said. “A student is best able to market themselves when they possess a solid understanding of who they are as an individual. This includes their personality, strengths, skills, experiences, and even their gaps or weaknesses, combined with a keen awareness of what their intended career path or industry seeks and expects of candidates when hiring.”

Students learn about potential career paths by meeting alumni, parents, and potential employers at career fairs and networking events, and participating in employer field trips, externships, and internships.

“They are able to make important connections within industries of interest to them and assess whether what they imagine a career to be and what it actually is fits with their unique interests, goals, and ambitions,” Keiser said. “Bucknell is fortunate to have a very engaged alumni community who are very willing to ‘pay it forward’ and offer sage advice and helpful suggestions to current students who are at various stages of exploring careers, seeking summer internships, or searching for full-time employment.”

Work Experience:

The Bucknell Public Interest Program (BPIP) provides outlets to educate students about career paths in nonprofit and public service fields. Through a summer internship program, the BPIP provides a $3,000 stipend to students completing unpaid internships in the nonprofit, public service sector.

“The program supports students in meaningful and challenging internships that promote the public interest and that the students themselves find and secure,” Assistant Director of BPIP Marilyn Shull said. “For BPIP especially, students’ values and interests come together to support building important workplace skills, such as communication and teamwork, that serve both the student and the common good.”

The University also offers externship opportunities. Each semester, students can apply to participate in an externship at a company of interest to learn about life in the workplace. Externships are great tools for networking, gaining knowledge about a certain field, and résumé-building.

“Fundamentally, externships are a career-exploration tool designed to give students a real-world experience that can confirm interest in a specific career field or company,” Program Director of Externships Emily Dietrich said. “The mention of an externship experience on a résumé can set students apart from other job candidates without industry-specific experience.”

There are hundreds of externships in various fields, so any University student can find value in this program.

Residential Life:

The position of a Residential Adviser (RA) fosters great leadership and organizational skills. Becoming an RA allows students to take on major responsibilities that will be applicable later in life, which will identify them as well-rounded, accountable employees.

“The Residential Adviser (RA) position is a complex role which allows students to develop skills that will greatly aid them in their future careers, whatever they may be. RAs need to manage interpersonal conflict, support others in need, effectively advocate for themselves and others, and create an inclusive environment,” Director of Residential Education Josh Hartman said.

Greek Affiliation:

Greek life at the University also offers opportunities to gain marketable leadership positions. Attaining a position in a sorority or a fraternity may indicate that a student is personable, takes initiative, or possesses strong leadership skills.

“Depending on the position, students can enhance their skills in budget management, marketing, networking, public speaking, team building, conflict resolution, event planning, critical thinking, and chapter management,” Mary Klebon, Assistant Director of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs and Community Development, said. These skills are “transferable to an interview, internship, or job opportunity.”

Volunteer Work:

Participating in philanthropy and volunteer work to better one’s community is extremely helpful in securing confidence, leadership, and teamwork skills. The Office of Civic Engagement shared insight on the importance of participating in this kind of work on and off campus. Civic engagement also helps a person’s psychological state, which is key for staying happy and healthy.

“It is a great way to network, build confidence, stay connected, and work on marketable skills. The study through the National and Community Service Corporation found that volunteering is associated with a 27 percent higher odds of employment,” Assistant Director of Community Service Lynn Pierson said.

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