Student development courses offer career help

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McKenzie Lawyer Davies, Career Counselor, encourages her Career Strategies students to network with each other to make the most of valuable classroom connections. They focus on how to market themselves in preparation for careers. (Photo by Samantha Williams.)
McKenzie Lawyer Davies, career counselor, encourages her career strategies students to network with each other to make the most of valuable classroom connections. They focus on how to market themselves in preparation for careers. (Photo by Samantha Williams.)

Registration dates have arrived, and students are faced with many decisions that will ultimately have an effect on their future.

BYU offers student development courses to help students navigate college life and the many decisions they face. Career exploration and career strategies are two of these courses that offer students career help.

“One focus is to help students gain a better understanding of the world of work,” said Vaughn Worthen, course coordinator for career exploration and the director of Career Services.

Worthen believes the majority of students are a bit unsure of the career path they want to pursue when they begin at BYU because they are very talented in a variety of areas.

“We’re a population at BYU that is very bright, and (students) come in with lots of interest and lots of ability,” Worthen said. “So how do they narrow it down?”

Career exploration focuses on self-assessment for students to gain a better understanding of their interests, values and skills and how they lend themselves to career paths. In the course, students also do a job shadow or informational interview to help narrow down possibilities.

For students who already have a good idea of their career, a career strategies class offers the ability to prepare for the future.

“My whole goal is to help them learn how to interface and essentially market their brand, which is them, to employers,” said Mckenzie Lawyer Davies, career counselor and career strategies professor.

Davies starts each class with a networking activity because she believes it is the most valuable strategy for students in today’s job market. The midterm is a face quiz of all the students in the class to make sure students are well acquainted with each other and can match their faces to their names.

“Seventy to 80 percent of jobs are found via networking,” Davies said. “If you’re not talking to your classmates now, how are you going to talk to them later?”

Heidi Vogeler, career counselor and career strategies professor, said her students have found success through their classroom activities.

Through a semester in career strategies, students spend time creating and critiquing résumés, doing networking activities, creating cover letters and preparing for interviews. Students also take a personality test and conduct informational interviews with professionals in their career field.

Taking a career strategies class can significantly influence students future career decisions.

“I’ve had students change their career path,” Vogeler said. “I’ve had students get jobs or internships from someone they met in the class.”

Contacting alumni or professionals in their field can also prove successful for students.

“I’ve had students get internships through their informational interviews,” Vogeler said. “They’ve gotten a mentor who is a leader in their field who is going to help them through the next steps in their career.”

These opportunities are available to all students through the Career and Academic Success Center, both while they are at BYU and after they graduate. Students can talk to a career counselor to help them with résumés, interviews and networking as well as take personality and skills tests in the Career and Academic Success Center.

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