Career Development at All Career Stages

Jenn McDannold, NASPA IV-W Student Career Development KC Representative

August 30, 2017

Did you know?

Only 17% of students who graduated from 2010 – 2016 said they found their college career centers to be “very helpful”, with another 17% saying their interactions were “not helpful at all”. (Inside Higher, 2016). As colleges and universities continue to diversify their services and connect with other offices on campus, we must promote as many professional and personal development paths as possible.

You’ve heard of a mentor – but now you need a sponsor!

Mentors and sponsors are both here to support you in achieving your goals, but they each hold unique strongholds in your career. Mentors are great for a source of guidance and leading you into new opportunities within your personal and career goals. Sponsors are here to be your cheerleader when it matters, speaking up for you during meetings or throwing out your name when a leader is needed. Want that internship? Get a faculty sponsor to advocate for you! Want that promotion? Show the head of the search committee that you have what it takes! Sponsors are where networking and hard work come together, creating someone who has your back when it counts. Both may come and go, but having both a sponsor and a mentor in your life will make moving up easier.

Get speaking experience!

As a student, it can be difficult to gain a speaking opportunity, but trust me – they are out there! Contact your local career services office to see if you can mentor a freshman student in your major or hold a seminar about what to expect your first year as an Engineering major at your institution. As a young professional, stay aware of career connections at your alma mater. Recently graduated as a Spanish major? Take on a mentee in the program and help students through those last few years before their own career. Not only will this help you in becoming a sponsor for someone else, but hone your mentoring skills for future supervisory roles. As a new professional with a little seasoning, reaching out to local conferences and colleges about your expertise is a must for developing skills in professional speaking. I was once invited as a guest to a conference, but after giving the planning committee a call, I convinced them I was much more suited for a speaking engagement during the conference. Don’t be afraid to ask!

*Career Services Idea! Do you have a poetry club on campus? Partner with this creative group to get nervous speakers out in public to debut their favorite poems!

Take personality inventories!

As a graduation gift, a friend of mine bought me the StrengthsFinder book series. Knowing my skills going into interviews was invaluable when telling future employers why I deserved the position. Funds low? No problem, there are plenty of other free inventories online. Try the TrueColors quiz, MBTI inventory or

*Career Services Idea! Work with the Psychology Department on campus and let students administer those personality inventories! Integrate the career center on campus with an ongoing resource for getting students involved semester after semester!

Consider a “personal brand”

Job searching can make you feel like you’re just another face in the crowd. Utilize a personal branding course online to make your image stand out. Try Coursera: Introduction to Personal Branding or Udemy: Personal Branding Workshop.

*Career Services Idea! Invite some of your professional speaking professors to come and offer a personal branding course!

Young Professionals within your local Chamber of Commerce

Join the organization for fun, networking and personal development. National Career Development Association (NCDA) offers professional development opportunities and training services.

*Career Services Idea! Partner with your local Chamber of Commerce to provide “student memberships” for local college students.

Follow the Student Career Development Knowledge Community!

  • Twitter - @NASPAcareerKC
  • Facebook - NASPA Student Career Development Knowledge Community
  • Facebook - NASPA IV West Student Career Development

Jenn McDannold
IV West Student Career Development KC
Questions? [email protected]


New, Jake. “Looking for Career Help.” Only 17 Percent of Recent Graduates Say Career Centers Are 'Very Helpful', Inside Higher Ed, 13 Dec. 2016,

Pentland, Louis. “Mentorship vs. Sponsorship, And How To Maximize Both.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 2 Oct. 2015,

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