This school year is characterized by Zoom calls, assignments and emails — emails in particular. As you find some time to clean out your inbox, you might stumble across an email from OSV at PLNU. OSV stands for the Offices of Strengths and Vocation, which is synonymous with career services. Career services may sound a bit foreign, but simply put, it is a resource that aids students in starting their job pathways and networking web in the professional world.
One of the resources OSV offers, called Handshake, can be found through your student portal. Handshake was implemented at PLNU in 2016 by the executive director of career services, Rebecca Smith. She said Handshake is a program the OSV utilizes to ensure equal access to opportunities in the job search for all students. When companies reach out to PLNU about internships or jobs that are available, these postings are immediately uploaded to Handshake so all students have a fair chance of applying.
Smith said, “career services wouldn’t be able to fully do their jobs without Handshake,” and it was foundational in helping students have equal opportunity.
Aside from jobs and internships, Handshake has more to offer. Under the resources tab at the career center page, there is a wide range of content the OSV team found helpful. These topics include interview tips, writing a cover letter, leverage on LinkedIn, virtual job searching and more.
At the beginning of your first year at PLNU, you may have been asked to take the five strengths test. Staff member at OSV career services, Robert Valiente-Neighbors, said the five strengths test does more than just define skills; it helps students apply knowledge of their strengths to group projects and networking. Valiente-Neighbours also said sharing your five strengths with OSV career services is a great way for staff to help students realize what they bring to the table.
PLNU alumna, Lauren Hartz, utilized career services and the strengths test when she was a student. In an email interview, Hartz shared the impact of learning her five strengths: “It was a helpful framework to view myself through, especially as I related to others around me. [It] has become internalized into my thought process and decision making.”
Students can set up one-on-one Zoom calls with OSV staff to receive catered guidance on anything related to the five strengths test, jobs or internships. Before these calls, expect an email from OSV staff asking you to fill out a form so they can prepare resources and information that will answer possible questions during the call.
Hartz summed up her experience with the staff: “They’re here to help provide you with context for what professional life looks like outside of school and to help you pursue it with intentionality.”
In addition to these online mediums, OSV offers workshops that, according to Smith, helps students get on an action-oriented path. In September, three workshops covered resumes, the virtual job search and networking. Each workshop was led by staff from career services. Valiente-Neighbors said the staff and workshops hope to help “articulate and label your strengths.” In October, workshops will cover the same three topics: preparing resumes and cover letters, the virtual search for jobs and internships and how to network successfully. They will take place on Oct. 20, 22 and 28.
The best piece of advice Hartz said she could give students is “Visit OSV, if not every semester, then every year. Have one-on-one sessions, go to workshops, learn the skills necessary to thrive as a young professional in this region. They have the resources to help you grow and can open doors to opportunities across San Diego.”
Written By: Lainie Alfaro