Frequently Asked Questions

Job Searching
Career Planning

I’ve heard that my college career center can be a great source of information to me in my career transition. What resources are available?

Many of our most valuable resources are available online. At your convenience you can access information on job search tools and strategies, job search links, and links to graduate school information. If you are in Northfield, you are welcome to stop in and browse our resource library. Though we don’t check out books to alumni, a peer advisor can make copies of a few informational pages if you locate a great resource. Remember that our mission is to serve current students so our resources are more useful for young alumni than for those with many years of experience.

I’m going to be on campus this week. Can I stop by?

If you would just like to browse our resource library, you can certainly stop by. If you’d like to talk with a coach, however, we will need to assess whether an appointment is appropriate. Call (507) 786-3268 in advance of your visit to campus. Through a phone conversation, it can be determined how to best meet your needs. Be aware that the months of September-October and February-April are our highest in terms of student traffic and we must work to make sure we meet current students’ needs first.

Can I meet with a coach there?

Because the first few years after graduation are often a time of vocational discernment and career-decision making, The Piper Center coaches offer advising services to alumni up to 4 years after graduation free of charge. The Piper Center staff can provide referrals and one consultative phone session to alumni more than 4 years out.

How do I post jobs or internships with my organization?

Thanks for recruiting through St. Olaf! We can facilitate on-campus interviews if you prefer to select current students for either an internship or professional position. Post a position through Handshake, just include a brief description of your company/organization, position title, responsibilities, qualifications, application deadline, required documents, preferred submission method, name and contact information for primary contact.

Are there other ways I can help current students?

Sure! You can make sure that your information in the Online Alumni Directory is as up-to-date as possible. Students are always looking for alumni with whom they can engage in job shadowinginformational interviewing, and networking, but they can only contact you if your information is current. We also utilize alumni as resources for career panels and as speakers for Entrepreneurial Studies. These are topic-specific events that change from year to year, so the best way to help is to keep your information current and just be responsive to a call or email from us.

Do you have any job postings I can look at?

We have several job search resources available to you on our website. Our on-campus database, Handshake, could also be a resource, particularly for younger alumni. The positions are typically geared toward new graduates, but you may find a posting or at least an organization you could contact of interest to you. To get access, call 507-786-3268 or email

I’m looking for jobs. Can I work with the recruiters that come to campus?

The recruiters who come to campus are specifically looking for graduating seniors, so we do not allow alumni to participate in that process. However, you can identify alumni at different companies using the Online Alumni Directory (see next question about networking with alumni for specifics). Also, we have a variety of job search resources available on our website.

Is there a way that I can network with alumni to find jobs?

There is an Online Alumni Directory available, which lists alumni searchable by job title, occupational area, major, city, employer, and more. If you are not able to log in using the information on the login page, contact the Office of Alumni and Parent Relations (507-786-3028) to get your password. It is not advisable to ask people directly for jobs, but rather to network and inquire about things like the field they work in, what it’s like working for their particular organization, advice on how to break into the job market, etc. Typically this is best done in the format of an informational interviewing, which can often lead to personalized critiques of your résumé, important connections, and yes, job offers! For specifics on what to say or other ways of approaching the job search, see our job search resources.

I’m facing a career change and trying to decide between a couple of different routes. How can I determine which is the best fit?

The best ways to determine fit are to get out and talk with those doing the work, see the work being done on-site, and give it a try for yourself. The informational interviewing is a great way to ask questions like, “How did you decide this was the career for you? What works well for you about this career? What don’t you like about it? If you could do things over differently, what would you do?” and even more that counselors, books, and the web can’t! Use the Online Alumni Directory (searchable by job title, occupational area, major, city, employer, etc.) or contacts you have through family and friends to help identify people to talk with. Use those same people to do some job shadowing for part of a day, a day, or several days to get a feel for what it’s really like. Then ask if there are any other more hands-on ways in which you could try it out-volunteering, part-time/entry- level work, or even interning. (You don’t have to be in college to be an intern.) One final option would be to take a look at the U of MN Vocational Assessment Clinic. You will be able to take assessments to help determine abilities, interests, values, and personalities.

I’m a recent alumnus (less than 4 years out). How do I begin the career planning process with the Piper Center?

Call 507-786-3268 or email and ask to speak with a coach. It’s likely that an appointment or self-assessment inventory would be helpful. Through a phone conversation, it can be determined how to best meet your needs; if appropriate an appointment will be scheduled.

What are some recommendations for alumni more than 4 years out facing a career change?

Beyond networking with alumni, family, or friends, we commonly suggest that alumni utilize colleagues (past or present) for career information and vocational guidance. Professional associations are another means of connection to professionals working in various career fields. If alumni have completed graduate or professional school, often those institutions are willing to provide specialized assistance and support.

Because our primary focus and expertise lies in counseling and advising undergraduate students (and those who have just recently graduated), we provide limited consultative advice and referral services to those more advanced in their career.

Affordable/Free Counseling Resources in Minneapolis-St. Paul

The United Way Hotline
Cell phone users can call: 651.291.0211. Toll free: 1.800.543.7709.
Multilingual lines available.

Walk-In Counseling Center
2421 Chicago Ave. S., Minneapolis, MN 612.870.0565
Hours: M-W-F 1-3 p.m./M-T-W-TH 6:30–8:30 p.m.

Job Search Support Groups
Employment Action Center (Locations in St. Paul, Minneapolis and St. Louis Park)
Job Support and Counseling Groups – Dates/times vary by location (Free)

Minnesota WorkForce Center (2098 East 11th Avenue, North St. Paul)
Work Transition Support Group – Thursdays 1-3 p.m. (Free, no registration necessary)

Quality Career Services (2515 Wabash Ave LL1, St. Paul)
Job Seeking Skills Workshops – Mondays 10 a.m.-11:30 a .m. (Free, new topics/speakers weekly)