USC's career studio is on level five of the Thomas Cooper Library, hidden in the furthest corner. It is here, backed by a neon green wall, that the career center and its staff give students a fresh start.
"I just think that whenever I'm in this space, I feel motivated to look towards the future," said career studio peer educator and third-year marketing student Deanna Costar. "It's a place where we say, 'Okay, it didn't work last time. We're gonna figure it out this time.'"
The career center operates as a one-stop-shop for students who are looking to make their way into the working world.
While they are known for helping with resumes, the career coaches and career studio peer educators also provide support ranging from career exploration to interview practice and help applying to graduate school.
It is a popular spot during the spring when many students are looking for help finding future jobs and internships and the team at the career center has a few suggestions to help win that dream position.
1. Start early
"The thing that's always going to be most important is making sure that I'm doing favors for future me by not letting anything become an emergency," the Associate Director of Career Development, Holly Johnson, said.
Johnson said that students should start searching for internships even if they're not ready to start the job yet.
2. Utilize Handshake and the career center toolbox
Handshake is a platform for college students to explore jobs and other opportunities and is one of USC's most versatile, but often underutilized tools.
Senior Associate Director for career development and experimental education, Mark Anthony said USC was one of the first 100 colleges to sign onto Handshake in 2016. Since then, USC has seen approximately 3,000 jobs and internships being posted to the site each year and this number continues to grow.
Anthony said the goal is to make job searching accessible for all students.
"LinkedIn looks backwards, we're looking forwards," Anthony said, referencing a Forbes article comparing Handshake and LinkedIn. "I'm trying to help you because college students don't have necessarily the social capital, the connections, the experience right now to connect with people like LinkedIn offers, and so, this is a way to try to help people make those connections and move forward."
One way that Anthony said students can make these connections is by spending time building a strong profile. Handshake's algorithm uses students' profiles to match them with opportunities that fit their experiences and interests. This gives all students a chance to get ahead by connecting with a wide variety of employers as soon as they join the site.
Employees at the career center also encourage students to use Handshake to discover unique jobs titles and set alerts on new job and internship postings from employers they are interested in working for in the future, so they can be one of the first to apply.
Besides Handshake, several tools are available through the career center's success toolkit. These include Big Interview, a virtual practice interview experience that uses artificial intelligence to give students interview tips, and Mentorship Hub, a network that connects students with USC alumni who can provide advice and support in the job search.
3. Meet with a career coach
"If you want to increase your personal wealth, you would go to a financial advisor. We have career coaches here who can help you with figuring out where you're at, where you want to be, what's the plan," Anthony said.
Career counseling is available Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and is open for scheduled appointments or walk-in appointments. They can be completed online or in-person and are run by career center staff dedicated to being empathetic and helpful in every step of the process.
"You put your blood, sweat and tears into your resumes and your cover letters. And there's a lot of emotionally charged feelings behind it, right? Because this is how we get jobs," Costar said. "If you're going to start tearing it apart, you got to kind of establish that I'm doing this out of love for you, right? I'm doing this out of a desire to watch you succeed and to watch you thrive."
No matter where a student is in their job search, the career center is one place to start. Students can schedule an appointment and find all of the career center's resources and tools on its website.