We have all been there: you go to university, and almost immediately, you feel more overwhelmed than ever before. Hear me out: there is this grand institution, with these distinguished people that are trying to teach you a variety of skills. Moreover, the school hasn’t even started yet, and you already get info-dumped on about the services and opportunities that the university offers. On top of that, you are trying your best to have a social life, to take care of that mental health everyone is talking about these days, and to get a decent amount of sleep. Ostensibly, the uni experience is all but low-key.
All of this can mess with anybody’s head, especially a student who just embarked on the chaotic journey that is student life. However, the beginning of that journey is the most valuable part, it’s the moment when you should be aware of what is being offered to you as a student and how you can take advantage of every single opportunity. Even at Groningen’s relatively small university, there are a ton of services being offered. One of those services is the Career Services.
What are the Career Services all about?
As a part-time employee at Career Services, I couldn’t help but notice that whenever I talk to fellow students about my workplace, there is that “I have no idea what you are talking about” look on their faces. About half of the students that I have had a conversation with, do not even know about the existence of the Career Services.
To get a clear picture of who the Career Services are and what exactly they do, I interviewed Vincent de Boer, who is employed as a coordinator there.
When asked what the Career Services are, Vincent explained that the University of Groningen provides career support for its students on different levels, such as faculty or association levels. How? Well, every faculty has its own career officer who can help students with questions they may face. Additionally, as well as faculties do, there are associations that host career-related events to help students balance their options regarding their careers. All of these activities are facilitated and supported by the Career Services central department.
To ensure that students from all faculties receive the same amount of support, the Career Services office provides workshops and consultations for all University of Groningen students (all free of charge so extra-yay!). Moreover, it serves as a gateway for companies and organizations (Dutch and international labor markets), which connect to the university in a faculty-specific manner. In other words, our friends at Career Services provide a platform where internships, traineeships, and jobs related to every faculty are posted. The best part? There is no need for you to add another tab to your infinite collection, as the Career tab can be found in good old Nestor.
The Career Services and your Employability
The core aim of this organization is to aid students in increasing their employability. A good step towards this goal is an introspective journey, to find answers to questions such as: What have you learned? What skill set have you developed? Do you know how to pitch yourself? Do you know how to present all these in a way that makes you stand out from the crowd? This is exactly where those workshops and consultations that I mentioned earlier come in handy.
Such consultations are one-hour sessions with one of the student employees. In these sessions, they provide you with advice on what employers usually notice in the application process and documents. In this way, they provide valuable advice on how to help you with your CV, cover letter, or your LinkedIn profile! If you are already at a stage where you are invited to do a job interview, you might be starting to freak out right about now. I mean, the panic is totally valid, I’ve been there. But, to calm your nerves a bit, this will be the moment where you can start “unfreaking” out. One of the offered consultation types is a mock interview, in which you just have to send out the vacancy that you are applying for. After doing so, one of the trainers will prepare an interview that might resemble the one that you will actually have to face. You will also get feedback and some tips at the end of the mock interview.
Now, to the beloved workshops. Workshops are activities in which one of our trainers, usually a trained student, talks for about two hours about a certain topic. Topics include how to build a CV or how to properly handle a job interview without facing existential dread in this process. These might seem boring now, but the trainers always try to make these activities as interactive as possible. Plus, you will find that these workshops might be invaluable once you enter the jungle of working life.
This all sounds really nice and all, but there are some, if not a lot, of students who actually have no idea how to prepare for or kick start their career. As you may already know, there is a solution for everything, and this case proves no different. The lifesavers at Career Services provide consultants who can help you, and organize events in which students can discover what opportunities are out there. This project was developed due to few students knowing that they can work at a European level, or even in the North of the Netherlands! Regarding the latter, Career Services has a collaboration going on with the “Make it in the North” project, which focuses on the job opportunities in this part of the country. It is a cooperative scheme to connect university students to the relatively small companies of this region. This way, we hope to connect these companies to these students.
In order to make use of all these services, you can check out the Career Tab at your student portal and make an appointment, or reserve a spot in one of the available workshops. If you want to stay up to date with Career Services, you can follow them on their Instagram page, where there are frequent updates, and on their website, where you can find all kinds of extra information.
Well, I do know that this was a lot of information, and some of you may be thinking “Why would I need to already think about my career?!”. To that I say, it might seem early and you might still be in the middle of your Bachelor’s program, but a secret that no one told me, is that the proper time to start thinking about your career is, well, yesterday. Plus, for most first-year students (like me), six months ago you were binging some Netflix series (I know you did). Currently, you are probably flipping through that Albert Heijn bonus magazine and you probably have the sudden realization that you might have become your mother. What better proof that time flies? So, there is no better time to start preparing for your future career than now, as this is one of the most important aspects of your life and will define how you live it.