By TYLER ELLYSON
KEARNEY – They’re like a navigation app for your college career.
When University of Nebraska at Kearney students encounter a potential roadblock, the Academic Advising and Career Development Office is there to offer guidance and direction, ensuring Lopers head down the right path.
“We’re kind of the office where students come when they don’t know where else to go,” said director Amy Rundstrom, who called Academic Advising and Career Development a “nexus” for campus resources.
Formerly known as Academic and Career Services, the office located inside the Memorial Student Affairs Building provides a number of services that help students succeed both during and after their time at UNK.
Oftentimes, associate director Aaron Estes said, students come to the office during times of uncertainty or transition. They may be freshmen who are new to campus, students choosing or changing a major or upperclassmen looking for that first job or internship.
“Change can be difficult in any part of your life,” Rundstrom said. “It’s good to have a place to go where you can get help and know you’re not alone.”
The office connects with students early in their UNK careers. Each fall, staff schedule one-on-one meetings with roughly 800 first-year freshmen to discuss their college transition, address any issues and prepare them for the academic advising process.
They also offer summer advising for incoming freshmen during New Student Enrollment, assign faculty advisers based on a student’s major and serve as staff advisers for students who haven’t selected a major yet.
“We want them to understand early on that whatever academic path they choose, it doesn’t limit their opportunities professionally,” Rundstrom said. “You gain a lot of transferrable skills with any bachelor’s program, so you can do a lot of different things. We’ll help you find a job no matter what your major is.”
When it comes to selecting or changing a major, Rundstrom said, “the only bad choice is not making any choice at all – giving up.”
Academic Advising and Career Development continues to support UNK students throughout this process with professional development activities that prepare Lopers to enter the workforce. These include resume-writing tips, mock job interviews and several online resources:
- Big Interview is an online training system that allows UNK students to practice for job interviews in a videoconference style, similar to Skype or Zoom;
- the Focus 2 online assessment helps students select the right major or career path based on their personality, interests, skills and academic background;
- and Handshake is an online platform where students can create personal profiles, view job and internship opportunities, connect with local, regional and national employers and access events and resources that match their career interests.
“We’re here to help students present their qualifications in the best possible way and present themselves well as applicants,” Estes said.
The office organizes three career fairs each year – one for teacher education majors and two for all UNK students and the public.
The general career fairs, offered during the fall and spring semesters, typically draw about 400 students and nearly 100 employers from a variety of industries, plus several graduate schools. In addition to full- and part-time employment opportunities, the events give younger students a chance to network with business representatives, explore various career paths and develop stronger interview skills.
“We can find something for everyone at the career fair,” said Rundstrom, noting that the event often introduces students to career opportunities they hadn’t considered before.
“Regardless of your major or class level, you’ll find something valuable,” she said.
Academic Advising and Career Development has 11 staff members, including four UNK students who serve as peer advisers. The office also provides adviser training for faculty and oversees early academic alerts, a system that connects struggling students with the Learning Commons, tutoring, UNK Student Health and Counseling and other resources.
For more information on the Academic Advising and Career Development Office, call 308-865-8501 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.