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‘’What’s your major?’’ is probably the most popular question to ask a college student. Variations of ‘’What are you going to do with that?’’ come in second.

Getting students to see broader possibilities for the answer to the latter question is a major focus for Lafayette’s Career Services. Students should think of what skill sets and interests they have to offer potential employers, rather than confining themselves to narrow choices directly related to their majors, according to Alana Albus, assistant director of Career Services.

‘’You’re not locked into a career path by your major,’’ she notes.

Albus outlined the department’s Gateway program during a Monday afternoon presentation in room 108 of the Williams Center for the Arts. Gateway includes one-on-one meetings with professional career counselors, internships and externships involving hundreds of students annually, alumni panels targeting specific majors and/or careers, networking contacts, a career library with over 600 books and an on-line catalog, on-line job postings, on-campus interviews by about 80 companies each year, and a variety of other programs and resources to meet the needs of a diverse student body. Students also can take advantage of a Career Fair once or twice each year that brings over 40 employers to campus to speak with students in one evening.

Founded about six years ago, Gateway engages students in thinking about career issues from the time they set foot on campus. Surveys of recruiters and students had indicated that while students received thorough academic preparation for the work force, improvements could be made in their professional readiness, said Albus.

Students enrolling in Gateway commit to attending two career-related activities per semester, which in addition to Career Services programs, can include certain residence hall programs and others in which Career Services participates. After learning about Gateway during orientation, first-year students meet with career counselors in groups over lunch.

Each year in a student’s college experience brings a different Gateway emphasis, said Albus. In the first year, the theme is ‘’awareness,’’ which includes exploring interests, abilities, and skills through classes and assessment exercises; learning about and starting to use Career Services resources; attending workshops and/or programs of interest; and writing a first resume.

The sophomore year centers on ‘’exploration,’’ including updating the resume and learning how to write cover letters; uploading the resume to the Job Vault; researching summer job/internship possibilities; attending the Career Fair and Career Services workshops; doing an externship over the January interim session; and using Alumnet to contact alumni employed in fields of interest.

The junior year’s goal is ‘’preparation,’’ which includes the previous year’s steps, as well as having an updated resume critiqued by a Gateway adviser; researching graduate schools and taking an entrance exam, if interested; starting the networking process with alumni and other potential employers; doing a mock interview; putting together a professional wardrobe; and continuing to engage in various career-related experiences.

The senior year encompasses many of those steps and adds others, such as having a cover letter critiqued by a Gateway adviser; lining up references; checking the Job Vault for the on-campus interviewing schedule; applying for on-campus interviews; attending information sessions for employers of interest; meeting with a Gateway adviser to evaluate job offers and accept one; reporting acceptance to Career Services; or conducting similar steps for graduate school.

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