Sep 302010
Authors: Phoenix MourningStar

Week seven of the semester is coming up fast, and life is rolling on campus. While it seems the preaching on the Plaza and student government leadership have taken most of the headlines over the last few days, has anyone noticed all the other events on campus?

Its actually pretty nuts, and I like it. I’m not sure that I necessarily need a carnival on campus every week, but a change of pace is nice once in a while

Next week Career Services is holding their “How to Apply for Federal Jobs” workshops Wednesday and Thursday in the Lory Student Center.

Careers Services and undergraduate advising have long been a topic of complaint for me at many of the institutions I have attended. I was always one who questioned colleges and universities methods and what I have viewed as a failure to truly prepare students for careers – especially the cool careers that would be fun or exciting.

During my high school years, I saw my older brother’s friends getting business and marketing degrees only to end up coming back home to work at the same job they had in high school for a couple dollars more an hour. Later, as a ski instructor at various resorts, it seemed like more of my co-workers were a smattering of college grads from psychology, chemistry or history who were in their fourth or fifth years of a career in ski-bumming. They used to joke they were doing post-graduate research in vertical engineering with an emphasis in precipitation affairs.

It regularly seemed clear to me that colleges and universities skimp on some of the precise resources that students come to higher education for in the first place: to get better jobs than they could have as high school graduates. The lack of dedicated advising within my field of study was a major reason I was drawn back to the ski fields of Colorado and the beaches of Southern California. Certainly when the focus and dedication came to me, I finally did what had to be done, yet having an academic advisor who was not over-burdened with grading, research and writing grants would have done wonders for me in the retention side of life.

Admittedly, I was pretty lost about academia. While it didn’t make sense to me to waste money to get a degree in something I was not planning to use or need, I did recognize the importance of the social politics of having a degree. This, and the occasional spate of burn out (yes, at some point 100-plus days of skiing a year can cease to be a blessing), kept me transferring from one school to the next until eventually deciding I wanted to be a scientist of some sort.

Recalling, and at times, still contemplating with friends as to what careers we are actually going to end up in is still an edgy discussion. This semester it has been all the more so given the challenges of the economy and the job market. But also because it seems like there is a career fair going on in the LSC every week.

Is it overkill? Not if you ask me. I think it’s a welcome service that students can never get enough of and is lacking on a number of campuses I’ve studied on.

Just in time to kick off next week’s sessions on applying for federal jobs, the Career Center is hosting U.S. Ambassador Roger Pierce to talk about jobs and internships with the U.S. State Department and the Foreign Service. With a presentation at 1 p.m. and again at 2 p.m. and drop-in question/answer sessions from noon to 1 p.m. in LSC Room 226, this gives students a stellar opportunity to meet with and get tips on career possibilities with one of the government’s most interesting career fields.

And I think that’s one of the key resources large university institutions can do for students beyond providing knowledge and a place to hide out from the real world: being a magnet for ideas and inspiration but also being a place to make connections with the outside world in preparation for life after academia.

Phoenix Mourning-Star is a graduate student in environmental health. His column appears Fridays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to

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