Bennett advises students on their futures

Emily Salmon

In today’s job market, every student at Western has one goal in mind: getting a job they enjoy.

Becky Bennett can help.

Bennett is a career specialist at the Career Services Center. She works with students by providing counseling for individual students and groups, helping with interview preparation, giving tips for writing resumes and administering interest inventories that can help a student decide what they’re interested in.

“When I talk about career counseling, it could include anything from trying to determine what you want to major in or what kind of job you want to go into all the way up through helping students find careers and positions,” Bennett said.

Current students, incoming students, high school students, alumni and faculty are all able to use her services.

Judy Owen, director of the Career Services Center, has worked with Bennett for 15 years.

“Becky is multi-talented,” Owen said. “In fact, she’s one of the most talented people that I know.”

Bennett focuses mainly on working with current students. Although there are about 1,800 students registered with the Career Services Center, Bennett urges every student to get help in preparation for the career they are interested in. Bennett believes the earlier the student starts looking for a career, the better.

“This is not something that can happen in April or May of your senior year,” she said. “And way too many students put it off.”

Owen believes that Bennett’s eagerness to learn is another part of her success. Bennett keeps up to date with technology that the center uses to reach students. She edits an e-newsletter that is sent out to all students registered with the center.

“She is very interested in everything,” Owen said. “I think one of the things that makes her so unique is that she is always trying to learn something new.”

One tool that Bennett advises students to use is the Career Services Center Web site, which has information on everything the center uses to help students.

There are links to interest inventories, which are designed to aid a student in picking a career field by evaluating the student’s likes and dislikes. Bennett then can give the student resources that show what kind of training that career requires, what kind of salary is earned and what kind of job outlook to expect.

“It’s been interesting to watch the counseling role change over the last few years,” Bennett said. “Now we’re doing so much more through e-mail. I review resumes without ever seeing people sometimes.”

Many students have picked a major, but Bennett stresses that they still may need help with what kind of career options to choose from.

“She is the easiest person in the world to work with,” Owen said.

She said that since the average person will change jobs seven to nine times in their lifetime, she encourages students to broaden their outlook when it comes to what possibilities their major has to offer.

Aside from seeking help in career placement, students need experience in their field., she said. Bennett said internships are the best preparation for the real job. She helps an average of 300 students a year land an internship in their field.

“It lets them try on that major before they’ve committed four years to it,” she said. “It’s a ‘try it on before you buy it’ situation. You hardly go out and buy anything without either test driving a car or trying on an outfit.”

One student that Bennett has helped is Margaret Wisdom, a non-traditional student at the extended campus in Glasgow. Bennett gave Wisdom an interest inventory and set her up with an advisor on campus.

“She was very kind, very helpful and very concerned,” Wisdom said.

After the meeting with her advisor, Wisdom got a call from Bennett seeing how everything turned out.

“Most people nowadays are not going to seek you out because everyone is so busy, but she took the time to see what had developed after I saw the adviser,” Wisdom said. “I was impressed with her.”

Bennett believes that students who utilize her services will be successful in finding a job, and that one of the most rewarding parts is seeing students go through the process and find a job they really enjoy.

“If they’ve done all the right things in terms of career and employment preparation, they may have a job waiting for them, literally, which is perfect,” she said.

There’s also another reason she likes her job.

“It keeps me young,” she said.

Reach Emily Salmon at [email protected]