Jon Tobin, career services coordinator, meets with a student to discuss opportunities such as mentoring and internships that she can use to start building career experience while still in college.

Career planning not just for college seniors anymore

Career Services at Penn State is not just for graduating seniors. PSWS Career Services Coordinator Jon Tobin now reaches out to students starting in their freshman year, and is even available to help Penn State alumni throughout their post-college careers.

By: Shawnna Meyers

As career paths evolve and change for alumni after graduation, so too is the role of campus career services

Some students don’t realize what campus career services can do to help them become successful, not just when they are a senior getting ready to enter the job market, but well before then, when they start their freshmen year at Penn State Worthington Scranton, and even years after they graduate.

In addition to helping graduating seniors prepare for, find, and interview for jobs, the Career Services Department at Penn State Worthington Scranton is equipped to help any Penn Stater -- whether they are an incoming freshman trying to figure out what type of career they want to pursue, or a seasoned alumni needing career advice or help.

In fact, all Penn State alumni can take advantage of Career Services both at their home campus, as well as at University Park, at any point in their life to receive any type of help that is provided to students currently attending.

“Students think that going to talk to career services only matters right before graduation,” said Jon Tobin, career services coordinator at PSWS, “when it’s really a lot of pieces along the way that help to correctly develop a path that will lead them to the right choice in the long run. They should consider meeting with career services throughout their entire four years here.”

Starting out with undecided freshmen, students can visit career services to get personalized counseling and a career assessment that will aid them in finding a major that will best fit their abilities and their interests.

Most students don’t realize that in order to best determine your major and prepare for a successful career, their abilities and interests must meet.  

For example, a student may be interested in the Information Sciences and Technology major, but not have the ability to do well in it.

A career assessment test will help with that. The test goes through four sections, including interests, abilities, skills and values to find a good match for the student. After completing those four sections of the test, Tobin will meet with the student to assess the results and come up with a career action plan.

Tobin can even arrange for the student sit in on a class or talk with an alumni from that career field to see if they are actually interested in it.

As for sophomores and juniors, they can meet with Tobin to talk about and go over their resumes, cover letters, interviewing skills, and annual events such as the Alumni Speed Mentoring Program or meeting alumni who are brought onto campus, and searching and setting up internships.

Penn State’s five eastern region campuses are Hazleton, Lehigh Valley, Schuylkill, Wilkes-Barre and Worthington Scranton. They share an Eastern Region job and internship developer, who meets with employers to find jobs and internship opportunities for Penn State students in the Eastern Region.

Senior year is when it all comes together. Students can attend career fairs with a large number of employers that allow them to circulate their resumes and interact with company representatives; attend the annual etiquette dinner in April, to learn the intricacies of table etiquette they may need when invited to a luncheon or dinner meeting with a prospective employer or new boss; and they can still meet one-on-one to work on their interviewing skills and even practice mock interviewing with Tobin.

“Utilizing the career services that we offer will help students become extremely prepared and educated for the process of obtaining a career,” Tobin said.

A large number of students (incorrectly) believe that they will graduate and get a dream job, making $70,000 a year while working 9 to 5. What these students don’t realize is that most graduates start in entry-level positions and must work their way up the corporate ladder to that “dream job,” Tobin explained.

Students also aren’t aware of the value of making themselves marketable and different from all of the other recent graduates applying for the same position.

A college degree with a high GPA is something employers may require to be considered for a position, but what makes students stand out is the experience they have listed on their resume, such as volunteering during college and internships that they have completed.

All employers value volunteer experience in the community. Completing more than one internship is good experience to show employers that you are motivated and have drive to obtain knowledge and skills.

It’s knowing how to go after these opportunities throughout your college career, and then properly communicating them on your resume and interview when you graduate, that can make you stand out and achieve the career success you envisioned when you decided to go to college.

To learn more about the services and support that is available to you as a student at Penn State Worthington Scranton, visit the Career Services office located in the Hawk Student Success Center, Room 21.

Jon Tobin can be contacted at (570) 963-2684 or jrt16@psu.edu for more information or to set up an appointment.