Frequently Asked Questions
- How can I be supportive of my student?
- How do students get involved with Career Services?
- Is Career Services open during the summer?
- What happens during a typical career advising appointment?
- When should students begin working with Career Services?
- Will career assessment or vocational testing tell my student what career is best?
- What can my student do with a major in philosophy (or communication, English, psychology, etc.)?
- Why would a student who has decided on a major need to use Career Services?
- Is it common for students to start out knowing exactly what they want to do with their lives but then become uncertain or consider a completely different direction?
- How does Career Services help students who are undecided about a career or academic major?
- How can my student find an internship?
- How can my student find on-campus and part-time jobs?
- What is Career Services’ role in finding students a job after graduation?
- What assistance does Career Services provide for students applying to graduate or professional school?
- In general, how can my student become more competitive for the job market or graduate school?
The most patient parents can be challenged while their student decides about the future. Because college is a time of exposure to new ideas and increased knowledge about career options, a student’s need to explore may increase and the length of time this takes will vary considerably. Being knowledgeable about today’s job market is an important part of being supportive. Keep in mind the following points:
• The job market is changing faster now than at any other time in history.
• Advances in technology are influencing every aspect of the marketplace.
• A large percentage of future jobs will require the skill level obtained through at least two years of post-secondary training or a four-year college education.
• Job opportunities are evolving at a rapid pace. Many of the jobs that are in existence today weren’t heard of just ten years ago.
• Because of the rapid evolution of jobs, people entering the workforce today are expected to change careers three to four times during their lifetime.
• Life-long learning will be a fact of life for all workers in order to continuously upgrade needed skills in the ever-changing work world.
Students can schedule an appointment with a career advisor to work on their personal and unique career development plan. For answers to quick questions or to have a resume reviewed, students can also take advantage of our Walk-In hours without an appointment (Monday through Friday, 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.).
Yes, we are open year-round. Summers are quiet in our office and a good time for unhurried career exploration.
This depends on where students are in their career development process. If exploring careers and interests, students may work with advisors to investigate their interests, skills, and values and to apply this information in formulating career goals. Advisors often administer and interpret the results of assessment tools. As is true of any advising session, students can be confident that all information is kept confidential. Students may also use an appointment to discuss field experience opportunities, and to learn more about how to best approach their job search (addressing networking, resumes, interviewing, evaluating compensation packages, etc.).
Career Services works with students from enrollment until six months after graduation. Ideally, a student will start exploring careers as early as their first year so that they can prepare for field experience opportunities and the eventual job hunt. Career exploration and planning outlines our suggested four-year career exploration plan for students.
While our testing does a very good job of assessing interests and values, it should not be seen as a foolproof means of choosing a job. Vocational testing should be used in collaboration with workshops, counseling, internship experiences, and advice from family and friends to help students find a broad career path that offers many possibilities for personal and professional growth.
The truth is—with a good plan in place—students can do whatever they want to do with a liberal arts major. There are a wide variety of majors that do not have a direct link to the world of work, and many graduates of these programs do not pursue careers that relate directly to their degree. It is important to realize that the value of an education is the degree a student earns, not the major. Students should major in what they enjoy; they will happier and perform better in their classes. As a parent, encourage your student to prepare for the world of work by exploring different career areas, developing skills, and gaining related work experience.
That being said, your student may visit What Can I Do with This Major to get a feel for the broad range of career options to which any major can lead.
In any major, there are a number of career paths that students may take depending on their interests and abilities. Shadowing, networking, gaining hands-on experience through an internship or volunteer work can help students to develop skills that are valued by employers and to gain experience that can clarify or solidify the direction of their career. Our office is a valuable resource for finding such opportunities, and for providing access to alumni and employers.
Is it common for students to start out knowing exactly what they want to do with their lives but then become uncertain or consider a completely different direction?
The college years are a time of rapid and profound change. College exposes students to new ideas and disciplines that can open their minds to possibilities and opportunities they never considered. UMass Amherst offers nearly 90 majors and most incoming students only know about a handful. Our career advisors are skilled in supporting students who are reconsidering their career focus. Frequently, advisors will administer assessment instruments that clarify important aspects of career development such as interests, natural abilities, and values. The goal is to give students the information they need to make career decisions that are consistent with who they are and what they want from life.
One of the main reasons students seek our services is to assist them with clarifying their career goals. Our advisors can guide them through the process of self-assessment and career exploration in order to help them determine the right direction at this point in their lives. For assistance in choosing a major, we refer students to the Undergraduate Advising Office.
Students find internships and co-op opportunities through a variety of sources. Go to Internships, Co-ops, and More for complete details.
Students looking for part-time jobs on and off campus, as well as work-study jobs, should use the services of our Student Employment Office.
Career Services offers extensive services geared toward helping students secure jobs upon graduation. Through one-on-one advising and workshops we help students learn to network and search for jobs, create resumes and cover letters, and prepare for interviews. Our office sponsors several job fairs annually and hosts employers who recruit directly on campus. In addition, many employers market their job opportunities directly to UMass Amherst students through the UMass Amherst CareerConnect/eRecruiting portal. Go to Your Job Search for more information on these services.
What assistance does Career Services provide for students applying to graduate or professional school?
Career advisors help students consider what elements they should think about when they consider different schools. We also host a Graduate and Professional School Information Day. Students planning to apply to medical or dental school receive extensive advising from Pre-Medical and Pre-Dental Advising while pre-law students work with the Pre-law Advising Office.
In addition to these services, our Credentials Services provides a convenient way for students to manage and distribute their letters of recommendation from faculty and supervisors.
Go to the Graduate School section for more information.
To become competitive for the job market or graduate school, students should focus on three areas:
Academics: Grades show intellectual competence, self-discipline, and the ability to learn new material. Students should be able to articulate what they learn in their coursework in terms of specific intellectual skills. Beyond classroom learning, students should become involved in research projects with faculty. Undergraduate research is a priority at UMass Amherst and there are many opportunities for students to participate.
Leadership Experience: Employers value well-rounded graduates. Students should be able to show examples of strong leadership, communication, organizational and teamwork skills. Participation in student organizations, as well as athletics, can provide excellent opportunities for development in these areas. To learn more about leadership opportunities at UMass Amherst, visit our Center for Student Development Web site.
Experiential Learning: Internships, co-ops, community service projects, campus involvement, and part-time jobs are all important opportunities to gain hands-on experience in a variety of career fields. Students can identify and confirm their areas of interest as well as develop industry-specific skills needed for a full-time job or graduate school. Additionally, employers often use their internship or volunteer programs as recruiting tools to identify potential entry-level employees.