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Class Notes May 2007: Volume 4, Number 2

Career Curve


For those of us of a certain age, we can remember how much paper it took to conduct a job search and land a suitable position. We poured over binders of categorized job listings in libraries and mass-mailed hundreds of employers at a shot. Our portfolios, if we had portfolios, consisted of dog-eared accordion folders and file drawers containing documented evidence of our accomplishments.

Things have changed. I met recently with the Career Services Center’s seven Career Peer Educators—student leaders specially trained to provide career information to their friends and classmates—and asked them to help me understand the pros and cons of technology from their perspective.

These peers, along with the UCSD alumni ranks they will soon join, are able to construct and maintain online career portfolios—complete with current resumes, reference letters, writing samples, skills matrices and video clips—that can be e-mailed to prospective employers as a convenience.

They also enjoy 24/7 access to a variety of self-help technologies—from online self-assessment instruments, to Web sites that connect academic majors to potential career outcomes, to research tools providing personal and timely impressions of the cultural realities of most industries and companies. Resumes can be fined-tuned with the help of online examples. Interview skills can be polished with webcam, practice-interview sessions.

They can build and refine personal profiles on massive employment portals, such as UC San Diego’s Port Triton, and personally tailored e-mail messages, called job search agents, notify them of opportunities that meet their unique ideal job criteria.

But despite the efficiency of many of these technologies, our Career Peers still recognized the importance of the human connection. Our personal career development and ultimate satisfaction is still about the human connection, the live handshake, the ability to write effectively and speak persuasively, and the emotional intelligence and street smarts it takes to seek out and pursue our unique brand of professional success.

Hip technology may help us more quickly understand and rehearse these life skills, but to perfect them we must move away from the safe, virtual world of our computer monitors and into a world that is real. With insight like that, I am sure that our Peer Career Educators will go far.

Andrew Ceperley has been director of UC San Diego’s Career Services Center since 2003. The Center provides career counseling, job search, and graduate school application assistance to nearly 1000 alumni each year. Visit career.ucsd.edu for more information about alumni services.

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