It's very common. “I just” — take your pick here — “a) graduated, b) got laid off, or c) decided to change careers and I’m done with taking classes.” They're always the first words heard at career fairs and community outreach events. “I’m here to find a job” is the refrain of the day.
Battle-weary after months of fruitless job searching, the San Diego job seekers who attend these fairs are more than ready to land those elusive jobs. Resumes in hand, professionally attired, confident smiles and firm handshakes ready to be deployed, they make the rounds at Recruiter Tables Row.
When they arrive at our table, they’re understandably stumped. “What is a major university’s continuing education division doing at a career fair? How can you help me get a job?” they wonder. I tell them that we’re the continuing education and public programs division of UC San Diego. That we’re here to help them with their professional goals. Or personal enrichment, for that matter. That we may not have actual job openings, but we can help them get a job.
Become more hireable with real world know-how
Many recent college graduates find themselves in uncharted territory. The bioengineering degree that Brad Jensen is completing may not equip him with the nuts and bolts needed to hit the biotech ground running. Theoretical courses in college somehow don’t easily translate to practical applications, he finds out.
At UC San Diego, undergraduate students like Jensen are able to register for an Extension professional program at no cost while they complete their college course work. The LAUNCH program allows them to supplement their bachelor’s degree with real-world knowledge taught by working professionals who practice what they teach and share their firsthand expertise.
When Jensen graduates, he'll also have a professional certificate in Biotechnology Project Management along with his diploma, which will boost his chances of getting hired.
Get a taste of what it's really like with a "Next Step Experience"
Internships are, of course, a great way for both students and job seekers to gain hands-on, immersive experience. UC San Diego Extension offers an internship-like program through “Next Step Experience” courses. Practice over theory is emphasized — precisely why they are an essential component of many certificate programs, including Brewing, Fitness Instruction and Exercise Science, Business Management, and Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counseling. It’s a practical capstone that nicely tops off a practical education.
Fertile ground for networking
Most of Extension’s 31,627 students have a college degree and are working professionals. For students, this means amplified networking advantages that can be cultivated into valuable professional connections. It’s a well-known fact that most jobs are not advertised (up to 80% according to Howard Poplinger, owner of human-resource company Epic Development and Evaluation), with employers increasingly bypassing online job boards and opting instead to hire directly through their employee networks. It’s all about “who you know.”
Realign your strengths, acquire needed knowledge
When asked about the nature of the jobs they seek, our job hunters respond confidently: positions in Human Resources, Digital Content Marketing, Information Technologies, or Teaching English to non-native speakers. Well and good. The only wrinkle is that, more often than not, their work experience and skills don’t reflect the right knowledge to land their dream jobs. Their expectations and actual experience are not aligned. And most of the time, they weren’t even aware of it.
Andy Harris may have had a successful retail sales career for 15 years but that won’t make the case for the HR job he wants now. Similarly, Marla Ramos may have worked as a web designer for five years until she got laid off. But that won’t seal the deal for the digital content editor position she’s pursuing. There may be some qualifications Harris and Ramos can readily bring to the table, but those won’t be enough. Harris will need to learn about strategies for hiring and retaining talent, while Ramos will need to hone effective writing skills to complement her design background to be in the running for the job she wants.
Continuing education certificates and courses can bolster your strengths and help you acquire knowledge relevant to your new career. They’re tangible proof of what employers seek:
And, yes — additional proof of your knowledge, the evidence employers want.
Access free career resources
At some point in your career — be it early, mid, transitional, or later stage — you may benefit from objective assessments of your strengths and weaknesses, along with professional guidance. UC San Diego Extension offers quarterly free clinics that can point you in the right direction so you can arrive at an optimal life/work balance. You may discover valuable, career-propelling insights that you may have missed on your own.
Move forward with lifelong learning
Innovation is a wonderful thing. But expect to continuously update your skills and knowledge to keep up with advancements and new technologies that will impact our global workplace. Expect to be nimble, to embrace new things. UC San Diego Extension’s goal is to be your lifelong learning resource and partner so you can continue on your path to career and personal growth.
Hopefully, you now have a better idea of how UC San Diego Extension can help. Next time you visit a career fair, you just may find that we have a table there. Please stop by and say hello. And let’s talk about the next steps that will lead you to that job. Or wherever you want to go.