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Career Center connects students with community

Among the many opportunities that Portland State offers to students are those of the Career Center. The Career Center provides help for students and alumni looking for off campus work.

The Career Center has tools and counselors to help students decide on a major and possibly a career. The students are also given access to the Career Center’s online database. The database connects students to numerous employers who are looking for PSU students to hire. Many of the employers not only pay an hourly wage, but also offer tuition reimbursement. There are also internship opportunities as well as regular work. Some of the internships are paid and some are not, depending on the employer.

The main tool of the Career Center is its online database called Career Connect. To gain access to the Career Connect database, the students can go to the Web site at, enter the Career Connect link, and follow the instructions for new users under the students and alumni link. This gives the students access to a wide variety of the Career Centers tools.

“We have tried to get… our stuff online. That way the students don’t always have to come in,” Career Center Director Dee Thompson explained.

Having much of their information online helps reduce the wait time for student. With only two counselors in the Career Center at this time, the wait for meeting with a counselor takes about a week. Usually when they are not backed up the wait is only about two to three days.

“Students need to call in advance and we will try to see them as quickly as we can,” Thompson said.

“The Career Connect database is a great tool for students looking for part-time or full-time jobs as well as career choices,” Thompson said. Within the database are numerous functions from listing which employers are hiring to what type of work people in your majors are doing.

“It’s a really good system. There are a lot of good jobs in it,” Thompson said.

The jobs listings are updated hourly, with new jobs being posted regularly. The jobs will then remain on the list for 30 days or until the position is filled. Some of the employers also ask for the applicant to apply through the database. When a student has logged on to the database they are able to load in their resumes and cover letters. The student can then to send their resume directly to the employer they are applying to. A significant number of these jobs are in the Portland area. This makes it more convenient for students to work and attend PSU at the same time.

The Career Center also provides students with help in writing resumes and cover letters. The center holds the writing workshops about twice a month. The resume workshops are one-hour seminars in a step-by-step approach to preparing a resume; such as the basic writing and advice on reproduction of resumes and preparing cover letters.

After the workshops the students can make an appointment to let an advisor look at their rough draft, review it and assist the student with the final version. The advisors can also assist with application forms, cover letters and thank-you letters.

Along with the resume workshop, the Career Center offers a two-hour workshop on effective interviewing. This participatory workshop provides techniques to improve your interviewing skills and practice these skills in videotaped mock interviews. There is a fee for the mock interviews: $10 for students and $30 for alumni.

The Career Center really does to two things, Thompson said. One, the center helps students decided on a major and or a career. Second, once the student has reached that point they need to know how to succeed in that career.

“We are really a full service shop,” Thompson said. “We help students get from having no idea of where to go, to knowing just what they want to do.”

Another “big thing” the Career Center puts on are the Career Fairs held on campus. The center hold three fairs a year: fall term is the nonprofit fair, winter term is the Career Information Day fair, and in spring term is the summer/part-time fair.

The winter fair of Career Information Day is the biggest, usually consisting of around 100 employers coming to campus looking for Portland State students that would be interested in working for them. Last term’s fair had 87 businesses attend, ranging from AT&T, Bonneville Power, to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Meier & Frank.

Although many students look at deciding on a career is something they will be doing their entire life, the Career Center sees it as a stepping-stone.

“We figure that once the student leaves PSU, they will have three to five career changes in their life,” Thompson said. “Once your working in a field for a number of years you might realize that you would really like to work in another field. You will then carry the knowledge you gained from you previous career to your new career.”