Navigating the Path to Career Success

two women interviewing a job candidate

Bearcat Promise Career Studio Interim Director and Assistant Professor of Career Education A. Stephen Amundson

Bearcat Promise Career Studio Interim Director & Assistant Professor of Career Education A. Stephen Amundson

Insights from Bearcat Promise Career Studio

Written by Susan Helmick, Graduate Assistant to the Graduate College

As we approach the end of another academic year, graduating students at the University of Cincinnati are gearing up to step into the professional world. The Bearcat Promise Career Studio, recognizing the importance of this transition, stands ready to provide invaluable support and guidance. Led by Interim Director and Assistant Professor of Career Education A. Stephen Amundson, the Career Studio offers a comprehensive range of practical services and resources tailored to meet the unique needs of students entering the job market. We spoke with Amundson to uncover the Studio's mission, offerings, and expert guidance for students as they embark on their professional journey. 

Can you provide an overview of the Bearcat Promise Career Studio and its mission in supporting graduating students? 

Professor Amundson: The Bearcat Promise Career Studio serves as a valuable resource for graduating students, offering comprehensive support as they transition into their respective field/workforce. The studio's mission revolves around equipping students with the necessary tools, skills, and guidance to succeed in their chosen career field. 

What specific services and resources does the Career Studio offer to assist students in their job search and career preparation? 

Professor Amundson: The Bearcat Promise Career Studio provides a range of services and resources designed to empower students in their career development journey. This includes personalized career coaching sessions, resume and cover letter assistance, interview preparation workshops, networking opportunities, and access to job and internship listings. The studio aims to foster a supportive environment where students can explore their career interests, identify their strengths, and develop a strategic plan for achieving their professional goals. 

Additionally, through various programs and events, the Career Studio tries to cultivate essential career readiness skills such as communication, problem-solving, and leadership, ensuring that students are well-prepared to thrive in today's competitive job market. The studio also offers resources for exploring graduate school options, entrepreneurship opportunities, and other post-graduation pathways. 

For students preparing to graduate, what are some common challenges they face when searching for jobs, updating their resumes, and preparing for interviews? 

Professor Amundson: Graduating students often face challenges when searching for jobs, updating their resumes, and preparing for professional interviews. Limited work experience tends to hinder many students’ ability to stand out among more experienced candidates.  Students can struggle to tailor a resume that effectively highlights strong skills and achievements, resulting in resumes known as “over educated and under qualified in skillsets.” Navigating job searches, specifically distinguishing between a job posting for which they are qualified to apply and one for which they are not, some students apply for jobs way out of their range of qualifications.  Conversely, some students have “imposter syndrome” and struggle to have the confidence to apply for a job for which they do qualify.  

Can you walk us through the process a student would typically go through when utilizing the Career Studio's services for job search assistance? 

Professor Amundson: The best way for graduates to receive job search assistance is to follow up with their assigned co-op advisor if they have one.  Those who are in a degree program without a co-op advisor can reach out to the Career Studio and request an appointment via Handshake with our professional career coaches.  We also strongly recommend students follow up with their respective departmental program chair or their professor(s) for additional help. 

What strategies or advice does the Career Studio offer to students for effectively networking and making professional connections? 

Professor Amundson: This is one of the biggest challenges we notice in career development. We encourage ALL students to build a professional network early and leverage them for future job opportunities to take advantage of what is known as the hidden job market (jobs that employers do not advertise or publish publicly), which can make up anywhere between 70 to 80 percent of potential jobs.  Students get caught up in applying to every job they see posted, but that’s only 20 to 30 percent of what’s actually available, so they need to understand the power of networking with employers.  Professional mentorship plays a critical role in preparing for interviews and effectively conveying professionalism too.  Ultimately, students can overcome most of these obstacles with support from resources like career coaching, alumni mentorship, and early and active networking. 

How does the Career Studio assist students in preparing for interviews? Are there any particular techniques or tips you emphasize? 

Professor Amundson: The Career Studio works with students to prepare for interviews through various methods that help them show confidence and provide quality answers to questions looking for specific job skills. One approach involves conducting mock interviews, allowing students to practice answering common questions and receive constructive feedback on their interview performance.  

Current students can also take advantage of a platform called Big Interview.  All students need to do is login and create a profile at and they can use the AI feature to practice their interviewing skills to receive timely feedback.  The platform doesn’t take the place of a real human, but when you are in a crunch for practice, it serves as a great resource to use as often and for as long as you want.   

Additionally, the studio offers resources and workshops focused on interview strategies during the career fair, such as techniques for effectively communicating skills and experiences, handling difficult questions, and showing confidence and professionalism. We also try to emphasize that students do thorough research of the company and role, practicing responses to behavioral and situational questions, and developing concise yet compelling narratives to highlight their achievements. Techniques like the STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, Result) are often emphasized to structure responses and provide concrete examples. Overall, the Career Studio tries to equip students with the confidence, skills and techniques necessary to excel in interviews and secure positions in their chosen fields. 

How does the Career Studio stay updated on current industry trends and job market demands to provide relevant guidance to students? 

Professor Amundson: I think the Career Studio stays current with trends by actively collaborating with faculty and staff across the university, meeting with the College of Arts and Sciences, Lindner College of Business, College of Engineering and Applied Science, and other departments within the university's College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning (DAAP), for example. This collaboration ensures that industry-specific knowledge and expertise are integrated into career development resources and programming. With the expertise of the College of Cooperative Education and Professional Studies (CCPS) faculty and staff, the Career Studio receives a unique opportunity to stay on top of industry preferences and job market demands, ensuring that our students receive comprehensive and relevant support as they navigate their career paths.  Most importantly, the career studio relies on resources provided by a number of professional organizations such as the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) to access valuable insights and data on emerging opportunities and changes in hiring practices.  Also, many of our faculty and staff present at professional conferences, so the career studio benefits from having a close relationship with those presenting the latest hiring research. 

For students who may be unsure of their career path or next steps after graduation, how does the Career Studio support them in exploring their options and making informed decisions? 

Professor Amundson: We typically encourage students who are still unsure of their career path to take one of our CCPS professionalism courses. PD 6170 (Graduate Professionalism) is specifically for graduate students looking for professional development.  Any student can find the course in catalyst under PD (Professional Development).  The course will be a 2-credit, 8-week course in the fall semester taught by me, and all majors are welcome.   The career studio also offers comprehensive career support for students who are unsure of their career path before and after graduation. We help students in one-on-one counseling sessions to explore their interests, skills, and values, receiving personalized guidance to make the necessary next steps in their career decisions. Additionally, the career studio provides assessments to help students understand their strengths and interest preferences. However, assessments are simply a starting place, not a compass for telling students what they should do.  We typically urge students to do “informational interviews” with professionals/employers to explore their interests. 

Are there any partnerships or collaborations with employers or alumni networks that students can leverage through the Career Studio? 

Professor Amundson: Yes, the Career Studio has a strong relationship with employers and alumni with whom we often collaborate to provide special events for students.  We refer students to our alumni platform, “Bearcats Connect,” to network with alumni.  Most importantly, we utilize Handshake, our premier platform that acts as a jobs board (similar to Indeed/LinkedIn).  Within Handshake, employers host several networking opportunities specifically for UC students.  Students need to login to Handshake to see what events/career fairs are taking place both in-person and virtually. I want to reiterate that CCPS offers PD courses (such as PD 6170) where instructors help students gain access to industry professionals who can offer insight into specific career paths, provide advice on job searching and interview techniques, and even facilitate potential internship or job opportunities. 

How does the Career Studio continue to support students even after they have graduated and entered the workforce? 

Professor Amundson: The bearcat promise career studio’s mission is to help every student graduate with a degree in one hand and a job in the other. If we do our job well, we’ll have prepared students for the professional working world.  Our services are available to all current students, regardless of major and standing, and alumni who have recently graduated.  We do have a large student demand at the end of spring semester, but we do our best to prioritize helping graduating students (and recent alumni) first as they prepare to enter the job market.  Ultimately, we are committed to ensuring students are successful after graduation and encourage students to use our job search platform, Handshake, to network with employers.