Barnard Office of Career Development, or, My Personal Hell

Career development has been pretty fishy lately… with weird jobs posted on Nacelink, and the office’s awkward location on Claremont, one of our Staff Writers was pushed past her limit with her most recent experiences, described below. 

I visited the Barnard Office of Career Development for the first time last week, when it suddenly hit me that summer was just two weeks away and I was woefully unemployed. One visit became four that week, and, while Career Development did me some good, it also did me wrong. How do you wrong me? Let me count the ways.

  1. Before I even set foot in their Elliot Hall office, I was wary of Barnard Career Development solely because their email address is Sure, OCD is supposed to stand for the Office of Career Development, but that’s not the first thing anyone’s mind would jump to when they saw the acronym.
  2. Making my first appointment with a career counselor was easy, and the receptionist was nice. I explained I wanted to work on a resumé. My friend made an appointment at the same time and day as me so we could go together. But when we arrived, they had no record of the appointment I had watched her make, forcing her to reschedule for a different day.
  3. The first counselor I saw was completely unhelpful and rather air-headed (I was convinced I knew her from a reality TV show), and after 10 minutes she referred me to a peer career counselor. The peer career counselor turned out to be very friendly, and, upon running into her at Morton Williams the next day, she even remembered me.
  4. I returned several days later with my finished resumé as instructed, having followed the template I had been given exactly. I came during peer career counselor walk-in hours and signed in. Having had a good experience with the peer career counselor previously, I had high hopes. But when I approached, first draft resumé in hand, the three peer career counselors present practically played Nose Goes as to who would have to help me.

  1. The counselor who had metaphorically lost the game sighed and motioned for me to come sit at her table. It looked as if it was terribly taxing for her to look over the resumé; she made it clear to me she was not happy to help.
  2. She barely skimmed it, noting only some minor formatting details. She did not edit the bulk of it, or even read it.
  3. When I asked about writing cover letters, she blew me off, saying that it was uncommon for companies to ask for them. I left totally discouraged, feeling the visit had been a waste of my time.
  4. Less than two hours later, I found a job on Nacelink I was interested in. The job required a cover letter, and the application deadline was that day at midnight. I sighed and trekked back to Elliot.
  5. Fortunately, the girl from before was gone. I was helped by an extremely kind older counselor who actually took the time to learn about both the job I was applying for and my own work experience. She offered up a basic outline, good opening and closing lines, and formatting tips. She talked me through the process and wrote incredibly comprehensive notes. With her help, the cover letter got me an interview for the job. My experience with her was the most positive one I had at the career development office.
  6. Upon getting the interview, I called the office and scheduled an appointment for a mock interview. I hadn’t given up on Barnard Career Development yet, perhaps foolishly. My appointment time was changed last minute when the counselor it was scheduled with called in sick, but I still had someone to talk me through the interview process.
  7. The counselor I met with that day made me nervous. Though the interview was supposed to be a short and casual one, which I explained, she gave me tips for an interview of a very different sort. I emerged from the meeting much more worried than I originally had been. I had gotten some helpful advice, but I felt as if she hadn’t understood what I wanted or where I was coming from.
  8. As I printed my resumé on the free high-quality resumé paper in the waiting room of the office (there are still perks to hanging around there), I overheard an office assistant inform a manager that all emails to their main email account (remember good ol’ had gone unanswered for over two weeks. Yikes…

Upon every visit to Barnard Career Development, I figured I had about a 50% chance of being misunderstood, not helped, and talked down to, but I also had a 50% of some great, convenient, free career counselling from some genuinely kind people.
In the end, I got the job that I had consulted them about. Barnard Career Development might be doing a whole list of things wrong, but they’re doing at least one thing right.

Photo via Bwog Staff