Career Services helps Rutgers students evaluate interests
David Bills, associate director for Career Development, said even with more than 100 majors available at Rutgers University, some students might not find their dream major.
If students find themselves uninspired by what is available, Bills said they should understand that while their major is important, it may not necessarily reflect the job they might end up in.
He said students sometimes have to decide on a major they are not quite convinced of, but may have the prerequisites for.
Even if a major does not correspond to their passion, students should follow what they love and what they are good at, he said.
A lot of students enter the University Career Services office without an idea of what they want to study, to which Bills said he does not force a decision out of them, instead encouraging them to take an assessment or speak to a counselor.
He said the office offers a tool called Focus, which is a personality and interest assessment to give students an idea of what they may want to study.
For liberal arts majors, Bills said practical experience through internships is often more important than one’s major.
He offered advice to first-year students and seniors, two groups at critical conjunctions in their college careers.
“Your major doesn’t dictate what you can do — it doesn’t limit you,” he said. “That’s one of the messages we like to tell [first-year students].”
Bills said he would like first-year students to realize that University Career Services does cater to them.
Often times, first-years believe that University Career Services only serves upperclassmen. Bills emphasized that first-years can get internships and career services is here to help them.
First-year students do not need to be getting fancy internships in Manhattan, Bills said. They need to get involved in student organizations so they can build their resumes to become marketable enough for the fancy internships.
Bills said some seniors realize what they want to do a month before they graduate, and some leave Rutgers without a clear plan.
“For seniors, it’s not that it’s too late if you wake up when you’re a senior — it’s not,” Bills said. “We help students even a little after graduation, but I think the earlier in your senior year that you’re thinking about what’s next, the better.”
He said seniors sometimes panic when it seems as if their friends have it all figured out, but they do not have a plan.
“That doesn’t mean that it’s all over — that they’re going to be homeless,” he said.
For some, their first job after their graduation might be an internship or something experimental to help them realize what they want, he said.
Seniors should be interviewing in the fall for June 1 jobs, he said.
Daria Voskoboynikov, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore, asked Bills about the best way to go about getting an internship.
Bills said aside from CareerKnight, students should look at websites geared toward their desired careers. Idealist.org offers opportunities to students interested in the non-profit world, while Mediabistro serves the journalism and public relations fields.
He said when students go on interviews, the interviewer typically asks the student to talk about themselves, which is one of the main questions students get stumped on.
It is so open-ended, that often students will either talk too much or not enough.
The other challenging question is when students are asked to share their greatest weakness, Bills said. This question is difficult for students because they go to an interview prepared to sell themselves.
The key is to have a genuine answer, and not necessarily to attempt to impress the interviewer with qualities like being a workaholic or a perfectionist.
Bills said students should be thinking about the future when deciding their major, but not overly so.
“A lot of career possibilities come from things other than the major, they come from your practical experiences and your skills and your dreams and your passions,” Bills said.