O-Issue 2013: Career Advancement

The place that will make “UCI” the most useful acronym in your vocabulary.

By Thomas Choi

For most of you incoming first-years, Career Advancement (CA) is probably the last thing on your mind. Moving into college is enough to worry about, much less preparing for life after graduation. But CA will no doubt play an important part in your college career sooner or later—and about 80 percent of first-years last year had some interaction with it.

CA is your source for (hopefully) meaningful part-time and summer employment opportunities, ranging from the hundreds of Metcalf internships—$4,000 for a summer—to the Summer Action and International Experience Grants—amounts vary. Formerly known as Career Advising and Planning Services (CAPS), the office was renamed last summer during its expansion and overhaul of the Web site.

Though the CA Web site may look nice, the one link that is hard to find but actually worth checking out is Chicago Career Connection (CCC), an online database where all of the available jobs and internships are listed, and a place where you will most likely end up spending more time than you’d like.

Most notably, CA features nine “UChicago Careers In…” (UCI) divisions, which are pre-professional programs that offer counseling in specific fields of interest. Each has its own director, programming, and unique benefits including treks and networking. Last year, two new divisions in Education Professions and Entrepreneurship joined the ranks of UChicago Careers in Business; Health Professions; Journalism, Arts, & Media; Law; Public and Social Service; and Science and Technology.

All but two of the UCI divisions are accessible to everyone, by scheduling a meeting over the phone or simply walking into the CA office. However, both Business and Education Professions have selective admissions processes for structured programs. Keep an eye out for application deadlines in the spring. Health Professions and Public and Social Services also offer selective fellows programs that you can apply to later in your college career.

Each program also hosts speakers, information sessions, and roundtables if minimal face time with an adviser is your goal. You’ll also get spammed with e-mails to sign up for Venture to Adventure in the fall and Steps to Success in winter, an informational event specifically for first-years to talk to upperclassmen, of debatable usefulness. Hear from past attendees to get true insider perspectives.

Before you can take advantage of the program-specific offerings, you must first be “activated” for on-campus recruiting. In order to do so, you will have to schedule a meeting with a CA adviser to look over your resume and register you in the CCC system. This can be your only encounter with an adviser if you want it to be, but some students develop ongoing relationships.

Whether you desire constant support, walk-in help (the office is on the second floor of Ida Noyes), a practice job interview, cover letter editing, or help finding yourself, CA is there if you need it, gone if you don’t, and is probably worth a try at some point.