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Career Center: Job search begins in freshman year

December 15, 2004

There are jobs for history majors.

From art to zoology majors, the Career Center dispenses job advice – both practical and theoretical – to students and alumni at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke.


Assistant Director Lori Bumgarner (left) meets with Angelica Baker and Gauram Nayer to provide resume assistance.

On the practical side, the center offers workshops and one-on-one consultations on resume writing, interviewing skills, networking and using the Internet to search for jobs.

On the theoretical side, the center offers an assessment to help students understand which careers (or courses of study) for which they are best suited. The Career Center is available to all students and graduates at no cost.

“We’re trying to get the word out that we are not just here for seniors,” said Career Services Director Dr. Denisha Sanders. “In fact, we reach out to every freshman to talk about our services.”

Navigating the shifting currents of a career is a process that lasts a lifetime, Dr. Sanders said. Her goal is to make sure UNCP graduates have the skills to navigate the shifting currents of a fast-paced job market.

“Seventy-five percent of students change their majors at least once, and only 50 percent of graduates begin work in a field directly related to their major,” Dr. Sanders said. “Employers are interested in the skills and traits an employee brings to the company more that what a student’s major was.”

“This is a process,” she said during a small seminar entitled CSI: Career Search Investigation. “You will make career decisions all your life, and we recommend beginning this process with self-analysis followed by career analysis.”


Nancy Houston, (right) an assistant principal with the Franklin County Schools, talks with Tammy Hunt (left) and Lisa Yax at a teacher education fair.

The Career Center develops a personality “mosaic” for each student based on a well-tested social-psychology theory.

“The most important thing to remember about personality testing is that all of us have a combination of traits,” Dr. Sanders said. “As a part of this assessment, students should also talk to friends and family about their strengths and weaknesses.”

The first week of November was Career Development Week at UNCP. There were seminar topics on “outrageous careers,” choosing a major or career, resume writing and critiquing, interviewing and professional dress, business etiquette, job searching and strategies, professional networking and portfolio development and presentation.

Career Development Week was wrapped around a first-ever fall teacher education fair that was attended by recruiters from 23 public school units. UNCP hosts several job and graduate school fairs annually in addition to numerous individual employer visits during the year.

Services offered by the Career Center are available to undergraduates, graduate students and alumni.

Here are several examples of why all students and graduates should spend a little time with the Career Center on their resumes.

  • When should you avoid including your grade point average on a resume?
  • How much personal information should be listed?
  • What is more important, listing your job history or your skills and experience?
  • What is the right way to handle references?

Career Center Assistant Director Lori Bumgarner can answer these questions and more. Bumgarner advises job seekers to package their skills, and she offers this job description for a student whose only work experience was as a waitress.

  • Served as a sales representative for the restaurant, selling add-ons and extras to customers to achieve one of the highest per-ticket and per-night sales averages.
  • Prioritized and juggled dozens of simultaneous responsibilities.
  • Built loyal clientele in addition to tourist trade.
  • Used computer daily.

If resumes have changed, so have job interviews, Dr. Sanders said.

“For many businesses, the traditional interview has been replaced by the behavioral interview, and if job seekers are not prepared for it, it can put them on the defensive,” she said. “The behavioral interview is a series of questions that build on each other and focus on how the candidate has performed in the past. It can seem like and old-fashioned grilling if you are not prepared.”

The Career Center prepares students for the newest trends in interviewing as well as the traditional.

“Of course, appearance and non-verbal communication in an interview are still important,” Dr. Sanders said. “There is an open-ended question that can be the most intimidating part of an interview, which is ‘tell me about yourself.’”

Good preparation, including videotaping mock interviews, is the key to success. Good preparation includes visits to the Career Center early and often in an undergraduate’s stay at UNCP.

That’s the winning formula for getting a great job. For more information about the Career Center, please call 910.521.6270.