Peer Career Advisers: A Valuable Resource

Career Services offers a wide variety of opportunities and support for Colgate students as they prepare to enter the workforce. Among the Career Services staff are the Peer Career Advisers (PCAs), a group of Colgate students ranging from sophomores to seniors who advise fellow students seeking help with resumes, cover letters, interviews, networking and other aspects of career readiness.

PCAs meet with students for 30-minute appointments to discuss resumes or other topics of interest. An important part of a PCA’s job is to ensure students follow the specific guidelines required for resume certification. A certified resume allows students to apply for Colgate Premier opportunities — internship or job openings with employers that already have recruiting relationships with the University.

Sophomore PCA Will Moen wants students to gain more than just a certified resume from their appointments.

“We don’t just want to have their resume certified, but we want to have them be able to develop the skills so that they can continue with a certified resume once they leave Colgate,” Moen explained. “[We hope] they can continue with a resume that’s strong and shows their opportunities and their experiences, and conveys the story they want to tell.”

This year every PCA is new to the position, according to junior PCA Grace Carter, which has proved to be a challenge. Lacking experienced PCAs to guide them, each 2022-2023 PCA must be trained by Career Services professionals.

Carter explained that the peer perspective in her position provides a lot of value to students seeking career services. As a PCA, she hopes to make students more comfortable seeking career advice.

“I spent a lot of time here sophomore year,” Carter said. “Just from being in this space, I could tell it was very much a team environment and people were wanting to collaborate with one another. I think a lot of times Career Services can be a very daunting place for students to come. I wanted to contribute to making it more of a welcoming and collaborative space instead of someplace where it’s transactional.”

Senior Emily Yu and her fellow PCAs arrived on campus ten days prior to the start of school and underwent five full days of training, which mostly included workshops on evaluating student resumes. During their training, PCAs not only learned the requirements for a Colgate-certified resume, but also how to handle the social aspects of the job.  

Yu describes gauging students’ reactions to criticism as a challenge of her position.

“You never know, going into an appointment […] how [a student is] going to handle the feedback,” Yu said. “I think navigating how to give constructive feedback, while also giving a lot of positive comments as well and not hurting their confidence [is a challenge].”

Yu decided to get involved with Career Services because it has served as a valuable resource throughout her time at Colgate. 

“I wanted to get a little more involved with the Colgate community,” Yu said. “I’m a senior so I went through this recruiting process and interview process, networking, resume certification. I felt like I had a lot of advice to give. I would talk to my friends about it and we’d all figure out how to navigate our career options together and just see what’s good with networking, who to send an email to, how to organize yourself, so I felt like I can give that knowledge to other students, too.”

Senior Sara Wiltshire said she initially joined Career Services for similar reasons, as she has utilized their resources over the years, but learned that the position’s value spans beyond giving back to the department.

“It’s a multifaceted position where I get to learn a lot through meeting with students,” Wiltshire said. “I think at the surface it seems like we’re the ones teaching these students and kind of providing them with our knowledge and our support, but even just throughout our training, there’s so much that I’ve learned and just getting exposed to a lot of different students and a lot of [their] experiences [have] been really beneficial to my career discovery.”

On Sept. 5 and Aug. 29, Career Services hosted the First-Year and Sophomore Jumpstart events, during which Career Services taught underclassmen how to begin their career planning. At these events, Wiltshire gave a speech about her personal experience with Career Services over the past three years.

“I was working with some of the professional career advisers who kind of spearheaded the presentation, but they wanted to bring in a student to continue that story of career services being very approachable,” Wiltshire said. “A lot of what we’re doing at the [First-Year] and Sophomore Jumpstart [is] introducing students to our four-year career discovery plan and a lot of that [relates to] storytelling, interviewing, networking, planning and experiencing. I wanted to bring that to life […] [and] give a tangible example to students.”

For students interested in scheduling an appointment with a PCA, Career Services offers an online form. With this form, students can request tasks to accomplish during the meeting as well as a specific PCA depending on their intended industry.