Career centers are lifelines for a university. These operations are a critical part of introducing students to the working world by building relationships, making connections, and introducing concepts to help navigate the troubled waters of searching for a job. Career centers also offer advice and counsel for students looking to decide what career path to follow and take time to listen and get to know individuals who have questions, concerns and are anxious about their journey into the world.
Junior Delgado has been director of Westfield State’s Career Center since 2009 and has counseled countless students. Delgado remains very committed and dedicated to his craft and stays involved in the field by perfecting his methods and keeping up with trends and best practices. This interest and enthusiasm makes Delgado a respected and appreciated member of his field. He has recently been appointed president of the Eastern Association of Colleges and Employers. Over the last nine years, Delgado has been the executive chair/president of the Massachusetts Educational Recruiting Consortium, an organization of 35 public and private institutions that facilitate hiring in education. He is active in the Regional Career Director’s Summits in Massachusetts, Mass State Director’s meetings and College Career Centers of Western Mass meetings. Delgado is also a frequent guest discussing career-related matters on WWLP’s Mass Appeal, an hour-long lifestyle program.
Delgado says his world in Career Services is constantly moving and evolving, “The information never stops. It is constant learning for anyone who works in a career office. So, it’s not like you can say we learned how to build widgets and that stayed the same forever. For us, we’re generalists, we must know about everything. We’re constantly reading, researching.”
To address some individuals who have questioned the purpose of higher education related to specific skills tailored to specific industry, Delgado says higher education must be flexible in its offerings. “There needs to be a balance. You still must have some professional programs that align with what’s happing within the economy and the markets. But if you start to change the focus of education you ignore the mission of serving all people. I believe the liberal arts are extremely important in shaping critical thinking skills and offering students the ability to explore a variety of subjects. Do employers necessarily agree with that? That’s where there is a huge disconnect.”
Delgado notes students that gain some sort of work experience or training while attending university is critical not only for their own professional development, but also as a selling point to potential employers. “What makes me sad and breaks my heart is we have students, on all campuses throughout the country, that leave school with zero to show other than attending classes. Employers want to see a part-time job while studying for classes. Extracurricular activities. Participation in clubs or volunteer work,” he said.
Becoming familiar with Career Services shouldn’t wait until senior year, advises Delgado. Coming in early and having conversations with career counselors will condition students to understand how to shape and execute their journey through education.
A recent Gallup survey has shown students that become involved in programs within career services are more likely to say their school has prepared them for life and the education was worth the cost. Also, according to the survey, graduates who utilized the services of career services were more likely to obtain a full-time job after graduation. Westfield State’s Career Center encourages students to visit, “early and often.” Promotional literature for the center states, “Check out our Four Year Career Plan, which walks you through everything you should consider during your undergraduate experience. It will help guide you from first to senior year to ensure you put your best foot forward when taking that next step.”
To make an appointment with the WSU Career Center, call (413) 572-5206 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and a Career Center representative will reach out to schedule a time that works best.