Catherine Cargian: Career Counseling is Personal

As she begins her senior year, Catherine Cargian fondly reflects on her work as a peer advisor at the Career Services office located in Benton Hall. Since her first-year, serving in flexible positions and ultimately favoring her work as a peer advisor, she’s had the unique opportunity to impart the teachings of her economics and psychology double concentration to her clients on campus as an analytical guide and comforting presence.

“I’ve been working at Career Services for a very long time. I’ve loved working there, and I really think that it’s probably made one of the biggest impacts on me at Colgate,” Cargian said.

When clients schedule an appointment in any of the various available ways — by phone, email or simply with a visit to the front desk — Cargian is assigned to assist them with the skillful process of compiling resumés and LinkedIn profiles. But her work doesn’t start there. 

“We [Career Services] try to focus on holistic advising … if someone is jumping in and saying, ‘I have to get a resumé ready,’ first thing, we might take a step back and ask, ‘Well, why do you want to have a resumé?’” 

By opening her clients’ meetings with a discussion on their professional aims, Cargian brings visibility to the vulnerability and uncertainty that can plague students organizing their academic and personal lives into careers. 

“It can be vulnerable for some people,” she said, “especially if they’re stressed about getting a job. I think getting a job is something people feel like they have a lot of pressure to do, so when they’re not living up to that standard, it’s kind of up to us to help them navigate through that.” 

Navigating the 2020 transition to virtual advisement, which remains an option in the midst of new COVID-19 variants, has provided a setting that, to Cargian, doesn’t compare to the one-on-one setting in Benton Hall. 

“There’s still a lot of value that students can get,” she contends, but holds true to her preference. “I don’t think it’s the preferred method by any means.”

Cargian explained how the virtual advising that dominated last year seemed to create forms of emotional and accessible disconnects, given the company of roommates behind sensitive video calls and the inability to pass out physical resources such as written notes or flyers.

“People are sharing things like their GPA and past experiences, and sometimes people feel like they don’t have enough experiences. I aim to talk people through that.” 

To Cargian, resumé-relevant skills hide in abundance in every professional experience. Part of her aim as an advisor is to anchor these skills onto her client’s resumes — whether they showcase time management skills in a fast-food setting or acquire impressive summer internships in a city setting. 

“Take this with a grain of salt,” she said, “but you can really showcase any skill, and tailor it toward whatever you want to do.”

Cargian was just a first-year when she first met with Career Services in 2017. She had visited their offices to complete her resumé and apply for a position to work behind their front desk. 

“It all stemmed from sophomore year, applying to a Colgate Premier Opportunity. I have had many advising appointments with the advisors to help me certify my resumé and help me figure out networking.

As her journey through Colgate and various positions with Career Services has presently developed, she holds close the offices that have guided her to abundant post-graduation employment opportunities. 

“I encourage everyone to connect with Career Services however they can,” she said, “whether it’s working here or just connecting with an advisor.” 

Though she will miss her time with Career Services, Cargian will enjoy the prosperous opportunities her work with Career Services has provided her after graduation. She will start her work with Jefferies Group, an investment banking company, in the summer of 2022.