Career Services director encourages students to prepare early for job fairs
By Madison Campbell— The Department of Career Services is gearing up for the first of its three job fairs this semester, the Summer Camp Job Fair, scheduled for Feb. 18. Though the first fair and the next two, the Spring Job Fair on March 5 and the Teacher Job Fair on Apr. 9, are still weeks away, Department Director Alana Hefner advises students to prepare now to attend and that the best time to receive career guidance from the department is at the beginning of the semester. “Do not wait until March, April and May for an appointment,” she said. “Go ahead and get it done early.”In addition to the job fairs, there are two other services the office provides that will be beneficial to all students, the resume assistance and mock interviews. The reason being, Hefner said, is that “you can’t get a job, most likely, without an interview and you usually can’t get an interview without a resume.” Hefner said that knowing how to build a resume and how to articulate everything that you know how to do in a resume is key. The resume “is meant for about five, six second first impression,” she said. It needs to be “a good one, not just an average one that everyone else is making.” The second impression an employer will have of a potential employee is the interview. When it comes to the interview, Hefner said, “you need to know how to knock the interview out of the park or at least maintain your ground.” Through Tarleton’s Career Services, mock interviews are provided to help students gain confidence for future employment interviews. Being prepared for an interview is key. The interviewer can instantly pick up on anyone who didn’t even consider the basics to answer key questions. Interviews can be a daunting process, but they have to be done. The questions asked are not ones that are supposed to catch you out, but are put into place so the interviewer can get to know a bit more about the candidate and how their skills match the job description. If you are struggling to find ways to prepare for your upcoming interview, you may want to check out a site like https://www.berkeassessment.com/solutions to at least understand the benefits and structure of the pre-employment questions that you’ll touch upon in your interview. Hefner admits to being the normal student when she “started out as a student worker, in this office, way back in the day.” She received her psychology degree from Tarleton State University, but was hired in the agriculture industry right out of college. Hefner said she was like most students because “there are more people that get a degree and then work outside of their scope,” meaning getting a job they were not specifically studying for. Now that Hefner is the director of Career Services at Tarleton, she shares her story and advice by explaining that a career “is completely not linear” and that it is not compartmental. She was hired right out of college due to her skills of being able to work with people and the knowledge she had of computer programs. A mistake many students make, Hefner said, is that they have it in their head that the part time work they do while in college is not applicable to their job s. However, working as a wait staff, customer service or carhop has “transferable skills that can be easily articulated on a resume,” she said. Her advice is to never assume that even though a job, experience or volunteer activity might not be under a specific major, students should not “shortchange themselves because they are a college student and working part time. That’s what employers want. The first thing that they look at is ’employability.’” In the future, Hefner will continue the “come one, come all” idea for the spring and fall job fairs, but also plans to create “more focused, tailored” fairs like the science and technology job fair last semester. Hefner wants to challenge students to attend a job fair, to get out of the comfort zone and “sit in with the awkwardness.” Career Services is “more ‘let me get beside you and help’ as opposed to lecture to you,” Hefner said. No matter if students are first year or graduating in May, Hefner views herself as an advocate working to help students plan their futures.