New Assistant Director Offers Grad Students Career Development Advice
Cover letters, resumes, networking, career fairs — the job search process students face can be daunting.
That’s why Clarence Anthony Jr. is here to help. He’s the new assistant director of Graduate Career Development at Georgia Tech.
“A lot of what I do is help people define themselves in a professional lens,” Anthony said. “For example, I help people figure out who they are, what their goals are, and how to get there.”
In January, Anthony, who holds a Ph.D. in counseling and counselor education, left his job in career services at the University of Michigan to take on the newly created position at Tech.
Recently, we had a chance to talk with Anthony. Read on to learn more about his new position and his thoughts on helping graduate students find careers.
Did you always know that you wanted to make a career out of helping students find careers?
In a way, yes. My high school guidance counselor really made a difference in my life, so I’ve known that I wanted to do the same for other students. But, I didn’t start taking counseling classes until my senior year of college. At that point, I still thought I wanted to be a guidance counselor. It didn’t really hit me that I wanted to work in career services until nine years later when I was working on my Ph.D. and interning in the career services department at the University of Florida. I originally got the job to fulfill an internship requirement. But, after awhile, I realized I was interested in doing the work as a career. It just felt right.
Why did you choose to make the move from Michigan to Tech?
I enjoy the challenge of helping all students, but I especially enjoy working with students who are driven. I know that Tech students have a reputation for being open to challenge, so I thought working with students here would be a good fit for me. I also came to Tech, because I know from my own grad school experience that it can get stressful. When I was a grad student, my peers and I definitely stressed about the demands of class and work. Since part of my training is in mental health counseling, I felt like I could help students here find a career while still taking care of themselves.
Tell me some of the ways you’re available to assist.
I’m primarily here to assist with counseling and advising. I help students develop a professional brand and help them determine some possibilities for their career path. For example, I can help students write cover letters and resumes, practice interviews, and work on selling themselves when networking. I also help run the Graduate Co-op/Internship Program, which helps students who have gotten an internship earn academic credit.
What are a few common mistakes you see grad students make while searching for a job?
Some students expect the search to just take a month or two. But, the human resources departments at many companies often move slowly. (Sometimes, it can take up to six to nine months to have a job nailed down.) Grad students can also have a challenging time marketing themselves. For example, students tend to take for granted the experience gained teaching a class or handling millions of dollars’ worth of research-related equipment every day. But, these are the types of skills that employers find a lot of value in. I help students break down what they do in their research and classes, and then communicate those skills in pitches or interviews.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I really value helping people find their own answers and their own path. It’s really gratifying when I get an email or a LinkedIn message from students years after I’ve helped them. I enjoy getting to see how they’ve progressed, whether they achieved the same goal we talked about or changed it. Another thing I enjoy is the challenge of the job. For example, I remember working with a student at the very beginning of her search. She hated networking, was looking for a high-level job right away, and had all kinds of questions about the job search. I had a lot of fun showing her what career development meant and how to find her style and communicate her skills.
What are your top three pieces of advice for grad students trying to find a job?
For a lot of people, things don’t go in a straight line. Your first dream job may not be what you end up doing, so think of multiple possibilities for your career. Start searching for your career while you’re earning your degree. That can include going to conferences or talks in the Atlanta area or participating in our grad internship and co-op program. It helps you see if your current goal is truly something that you want to do. And like I said earlier, a lot of people struggle to sell themselves, because they think they’re bragging. I find it helps to see selling yourself more as talking about things you’re proud of. It helps build confidence in your skills.
What should students do if they’re interested in speaking with you?
Our walk-in advising hours are Tuesday and Wednesday from 2-4 p.m. at the Center for Career Discovery and Development on the first floor of the Success Center, or you can visit CareerBuzz to schedule an appointment.