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Advice for future professionals

Brazilian universities are investing in career support services for students and alumni

095_Carreiras01_248_Veridiana ScarpelliIn the transition from university to job market, it may be difficult for students to find a job that meets the professional and salary expectations they envisioned during their undergraduate coursework. It is a delicate process, and sometimes clarity is lacking in terms of individual aptitudes and the necessity of building a professional identity. Consequently, many Brazilian universities are investing in setting up career support service centers, which offer students and alumni advice, lectures and workshops on professional development plans. They also provide job market information and tips on how to write a resume and prepare for a job interview.

The Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul (PUC-RS) has had a career office since 2007. It serves undergraduates, graduates, students earning certificates and exchange students who are enrolled at the university. The office offers professional planning advice by discussing issues related to students’ careers so that they can assess their opportunities in the job market and feel more secure about their choices.

The University of São Paulo (USP) also decided to invest in this model of professional development. Taking inspiration from “offices,” commonly found in universities abroad, and especially in the United States, in March 2016 USP launched its own Career Development Office that is part of the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Studies of the university. “The goal is to advise students in thinking about, preparing and planning their careers in the short, medium and long terms, taking into account not only their professional activity, but also various aspects of their personal lives and their contribution to society,” says Tania Casado, office director and professor at the USP School of Economics, Business Administration and Accounting. She explains that many students do not understand the specifications of their own courses of study or opportunities for applying their knowledge in the job market.

Careers_248The office, she explains, does more than serve as intermediary in contacts between students and companies that may hire them. The idea is to provide advice to students so that they learn about the market and develop skills they can use to exploit their potential. The office has 30 volunteers, all USP alumni that have earned master’s degrees, PhDs, or have market experience; some are corporate executives in the area of career management. “They serve as mentors, which is when someone with considerable experience advises another person with less experience,” she explains. “They also help us prepare career workshops and lectures on the job market, economic scenarios, and alternatives for working in each field, as well as other subjects related to student careers.”

In 2008 Itajaí Valley University (UNIVALI) in Santa Catarina State adopted a different model of career support service and set up a job vacancy database exclusively for students and alumni. Companies in the region and students from the university register online for the database. “Students receive information by email on vacancies that best match the profile of their studies or area of knowledge,” explains Márcia Roseli da Costa, student services manager at UNIVALI. She says that companies hire students directly after they contact them based on the resumes students submit for job vacancies listed in the database.

The Talent Database at the Extension School (Extecamp) of University of Campinas (Unicamp) is an online, automated and dynamic system, geared exclusively toward professionals holding advanced degrees who took extension courses at the university’s Extension School. Introduced in 2012, the system enables human resources departments to conduct specific searches according to the skills indicated by professionals who studied at Extecamp.

Also, companies can subscribe to the database, provide information on vacancy opportunities and select the qualities and competencies they are looking for in applicants. “Students in extension courses, including specializations, develop highly specific skills in areas such as economics, engineering, the humanities and biology,” says Pedro Carvalho, associate director of Extecamp. “Students whose skills match those specified by the companies in the database are notified of vacancies by email.” If candidates are interested, it is up to them to contact the company.