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  • Frequently Asked Questions

Career Development Center

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  • Frequently Asked Questions

  • The Career Development Center will help you discover a major or career path as well as make the transition from student to professional. Wherever you are on your journey, we have tools and resources to help move you forward.

    Our philosophy is to teach students to fish rather than provide the meal. We will stock the pond if we can. What that means: it is the responsibility of students to apply for and gain employment. The CDC will provide access to employers and job postings through our Upcoming Events tab. We will also provide individual job search consultation for students who are unsure about their path, need help brainstorming, or would like to learn more about the employer’s perspective on their application materials.

    Choosing a major or career path may seem overwhelming. We can help you through exploration sessions, programs, and individual career counseling. Schedule an appointment with a Career Development Center Specialist to discuss what specific majors might mean for your future.

    The Minnesota State College and University system requires MSUM to follow up with students one year after graduation. You can find more information about what MSUM graduates in your major are up to by clicking here.

    You can find out more about your major by clicking on our What do I do with a major in...? . You will find a list of common majors, how to get started in that field, who typically hires those majors, and links to helpful resources related to that major. If your major is not included on the list, you can find more information about what MSUM graduates in your major are doing by clicking here.

    When current students first come to the CDC, they likely meet first with a Student Consultant. Preparing a resume often takes students 10-60 hours and requires 4-5 (or more) drafts. Student Consultants are trained to think like employers and can help you avoid common pitfalls on your early drafts. If you have questions about resume writing, workshops, or what is new at the CDC, you can contact the Student Consultant by email at specialist@mnstate.edu.

    Start by browsing on our online job search home, DragonCareers. Students and alumni can create free accounts with our service. Just sign up, post your resume, and you’re in. Brainstorm what you’re good at and why you’re good at it. Why would you be a good employee? What would you like to spend your time doing? Browsing on DragonCareers will give you a good start as to what is out there and whether it would be a good fit for you. You might also want to check out our Job & Internship Links to determine if there are more specific job search sites available.

    Check out our Job Search Handbook for valuable tips on how to write a resume.

    Not necessarily, but usually yes. Some employers ask that you first fill out an application form before you can be considered for the next step. The best policy is to provide an employer with exactly what they ask for in the job posting. The one exception is: If a job posting asks for a resume, send a cover letter, too, even if they don’t ask. For help with cover letters, check out our Job Search Handbook.

    Resume tips, do’s and don’ts in the Job Search Handbook will get you started.

    • First: Make a list of relevant experiences.
    • Second: Determine how to organize those experiences into categories. Think about what you got out of those experiences and how they will make you a valuable employee in the future.
    • Third: Start typing. Don’t use a template, unless you’re desperate to finish in the next 20 minutes. Employers are not impressed by templates (for that reason--among others!). Make sure, once you have finished this mad-dash style resume, that you get into the CDC soon to get it tuned up for the next opportunity!

    When it comes to references, provide exactly what the employer asks for. If they want three references, provide the name and contact information of three professional references. If they ask for letters of recommendation, provide them either on paper or PDF.

    The best reference is a current supervisor. A good reference is someone who has seen you work and knows you on that level. Previous supervisors, co-workers with a lot of experience or mentors in your field can also make excellent references. When it comes to using professors as references, it is important that they know you well (for at least one semester), know you outside of class (for example, you have done research projects with that professor, or spend time with them on class related work outside of class time). If you only had them for a class but don’t know them outside the classroom, they might not be the best reference for you. You may hear discussion about professional and personal references. All of your references for employment should be professional. This means that they are able to talk about your work and skills, rather than your character. There are some exceptions to the rule; if you have questions, be sure to schedule an appointment with a Specialist if you have further questions about references.

    If you would like a letter of recommendation from a professor or other professional, it is courteous to give them a month’s notice. If you think you might need a letter of recommendation when you graduate, well, you know graduation is coming! Ask your professor in the fall if they would consider writing you a letter at the end of the year. Spend the year proving to them that you deserve a positive recommendation. Someone who writes you a letter of recommendation should know you well (at least one semester) and know you outside of class (for example, you have done research projects with that professor, or spend time with them on class related work outside of class time). If you only had the professor for a class but never talked outside the classroom, they might not be the best reference for you.

    Some students will apply to only a few jobs before they get an interview and an offer, others will apply to 50 or more. The job search process is very individualized, and it is not always simple. If you have questions about what is right for you, it is a good idea to make an appointment to discuss your situation with a Specialist.

    Employers do not usually operate within our ideal time frame! If you have applied or interviewed for a position, it can be helpful to follow up with a phone call about one week after you’ve posted your materials or sent your thank you note. Always be polite and professional; try to see things from their perspective. They get busy, too! Realize that rejection is part of the process. You won’t get every job you apply for, and that’s okay! If you have questions about how to navigate the process, feel free to call the Career Development Center at 218.477.2131, and we will do our best to help you!