As Director of Career Services at Devry University in Maitland, Kathaleen Emery’s role is to coach students throughout their studies, and enable them with the skills that will best prepare them to translate their major into a career and land a job. She recently sat down with Observer reporter Kristy Vickery to talk about the today’s job market.
What is the most important thing graduates can do in their last year in college to help them prepare for job market?
“They should connect with their career services department, if they have not already done so. By their senior year, it’s ideal if they have already had an internship experience… but for some this is not feasible… so improving confidence through mock interviews or job shadowing is also important. We also encourage in their freshman year to learn the technique of networking.”
What are the up-and-coming careers in Orlando’s job market right now?
“Definitely health care and technology… technology in general, the more creative you are, is definitely becoming more and more of the trend locally I see.”
What perspective can you give on how companies in the Orlando area are hiring students after graduation?
“Well, the good news is they still are hiring. I think that’s one of biggest myths out there is that no one’s going to hire me so I’m not going to do a job search… they are still looking for talent they can mold and fresh minds that have creative ideas.”
How should graduates negotiate stating salaries?
“They need to be open-minded and flexible. We try to coach them on the rate they are expecting… and we try to keep their expectations realistic. We also ask them not to focus on the national websites like www.salary.com.... They need to really know their information and get a variety of different opinions before they go about a salary.”
Should college graduates accept a position outside of their major?
“Being open-minded is key… you may have to start in another department that could utilize your transferable skills that you have to offer, knowing that you’re able to get promoted within the organization… but they should really be dead set on reaching organizations that have everything they are looking for.”
What are the best ways to develop a job search plan?
“Finding a mentor in the industry, if possible… in addition joining at least one, if not two, professional organizations.”
What are the best ways to follow-up with potential employers?
“A great rule of thumb is to keep note cards in your glove box in your car… so when you come out of an interview you already have something to run back in with and leave with the receptionist… that’s an instant thank you to that employer. If you do not have note cards available, I would definitely send an e-mail.”
What are the biggest mistakes graduates make going into the career world?
“When it comes to a job search, sometimes they get so focused on one interview, then they have the interview and sit at home and they wait, and they do not continue an active job search.”
What are the biggest misconceptions about the job market right now?
“Thinking that accepting contract positions will hurt their future career opportunities… getting any type of experience filling in the gaps as an active employee with an organization where you can keep networking would really continue to open doors.”
How can graduates highlight certain skills to make them stand out to potential employers?
“Definitely those specific skills or buzz words for the degree that they’ve studied… any leadership experiences are also really key…. A big one for the Central Florida market, because we are so diverse, is listing any extra languages that you speak, so if you are bilingual or trilingual that should be at the very top of your resume.”