Career counsellors help open doors for new graduates

February 19, 2004, vol.29, no.4
By Felicity Stone

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They say that when one door closes, another one opens. But what if it doesn't? One of students' greatest fears has got to be that when they graduate, the career door will remain shut.

At Simon Fraser University, students can get help opening that door. The health, counselling and career centre (HCCC) will not only advise students on career goals but will actively help them find a job while they are students and after graduation.

As well as organizing career fairs and helping students write resumes, the centre contacts potential employers. Since Kalpna Solanki became associate director of career services last September it also arranges for SFU alumni to speak at events and possibly hire SFU graduates.

As past president of the SFU alumni association and an SFU graduate herself, approaching alumni who already have a relationship with the university was a natural move for Solanki.

“Alumni are also employers,” notes Solanki. They can be employees too. HCCC career services are available to SFU alumni for up to two years after graduation.

The services are well used. Employers can post job openings on the SFU website, and the centre will collect resumes, arrange interviews and provide interview space for employers. There are currently almost 14,000 regular job seekers on the website and about 600 job postings, which last month were viewed 10,000 times. “We don't place students,” says Solanki, “but bring students and employers together.”

Employer and alumni relations are not the only new focuses for HCCC. Recently it has begun liaising with faculty and staff to increase familiarity with its services and avoid duplication of efforts in connecting students with employers. Another, more traditional, component of its career services is student development - helping students find a suitable career through self-assessment, exploring the world of work and developing a personal job search strategy. Ideally, says Solanki, students should get career guidance in the first or second year, before they decide on their major. HCCC also organizes numerous workshops and career fairs where students can meet industry experts, and it advises students on how to look for jobs, write cover letters and resumes, and prepare for interviews.

To date the response from employers, alumni and students associated with the centre has been enthusiastic, but Solanki wants to ensure all SFU students, recent alumni and staff know what resources are available. “Student success is our success,” she says.

Visit HCCC in room 0300 of the Maggie Benston centre or online at

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