FAU career development center

As a college student James C.Watson Jr. had no idea what he would do after graduation. At the suggestion of a professor, he took a career assessment test and found his calling.

Watson is now in his 29th year at Florida Atlantic University’s Career Development Center where he helps students find the answers to questions, which he had once posed. “It hit me that other people were out there asking the same questions and I wanted to help them,” said Watson, Coordinator in Employer/Campus Relations.

FAU has CDCs on three of its campuses: Boca Raton, Davie and MacArthur.

At the Boca campus, where Watson works, the CDC is in Room 220 of the Student Support Services Building. With a staff of 14, the Boca location is the largest CDC for FAU.

The mission of the CDC, according to its website (www.fau.edu/cdc), is to “promote a practical developmental approach towards helping students find a self actualizing career direction; one in which individuals find success and fulfillment. Our office encourages all students to take responsibility for managing their careers and the directions they may take.”

Watson said that each staff member takes pleasure in “seeing students realize their full potential.”

The National Resources Center for the Freshmen Year Experience found that 20 to 25 percent are classified as having an undecided major and 50 to 60 percent of students who declare a major end up changing it at least once.

At FAU nearly 14 percent of enrolled students are undecided. “Every semester the number of undecided students grows,” said Watson.

Despite the obvious need for guidance, most FAU students do not take advantage of the CDC’s resources. “Students don’t think about careers until their junior or senior year and even then most of them don’t know we are here,” said Watson. The CDC conducts presentations during freshmen orientation, has a link on FAU’s Web site, and offers to give in-class presentations to inform students of the services it provides.

Ray Graham, a communication major unaware of the CDC’s existence, said , “It sounds like it has something useful for everyone. I am going to have to check it out.”

The CDC offers many valuable services, free of charge, to current students.

Tips on resume and cover letter writing, how to prepare for an interview, salary negotiations and on-campus recruiting are a few of them. “Students can bring in resumes and cover letters for critiquing and we will even conduct a mock interview,” said Watson.

The CDC regularly hosts workshops with topics such as applying for internships and job search strategies. A list of upcoming workshops is posted on the CDC’s Web site. A Career Library filled with up-to-date periodicals, career files, directories and job search resources to assist in finding information on a variety of careers is also available at the CDC.

Students can access many of the CDC’s resources through drop-in advising. No appointment is needed from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Drop-in advising is the first step for students seeking general information about the CDC’s services and for those who want to get started with career assessment tests. Individuals may also schedule appointments to get additional guidance and information.

The CDC has teamed up with other FAU departments and centers to provide resources to students. To assist with on-campus recruiting, the CDC worked with the College of Business Career Resource Center and the Alumni Relations Center to develop an electronic job search database.

“Interfase allows students to upload their resumes and apply for employment positions from the comfort of their own homes,” said Watson. Students and alumni can register for Interfase on the CDC’s Web site.

One of the CDC’s most significant events is Career Day. Career Day is held every fall and spring semester in the Boca campus gymnasium. Students are given an opportunity to speak with employers and explore a wide variety of career fields. Potential employers such as Office Depot, the Broward County Sheriff’s Office and Bank Atlantic are regular attendees.

The Spring 2005 Career Day is scheduled for Feb. 9 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Boca campus gymnasium.

The CDC’s hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Mondays and Thursdays and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays. The office can be reached by phone at (561) 297-3533 and e-mail at [email protected]

“Every student, whether undecided or not, can benefit from the services we offer,” said Watson. “All we can do is share the resources. It is up to the students to take advantage of them.”