Career Placement vs. Career Services

Every so often, someone will hear me say that I work at the UCI Career Center and respond with “Oh, so you do placement?”

Well no, not really. The UCI Career Center offers a variety of services and resources, including career counseling, for students, but we don’t call anything we do ‘placement’. To help provide some context, and explanations about the perspective behind that, I’ve enlisted the help of some of my super-smart colleagues.

Allison: “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” Career services aims to teach students (from a developmental perspective) the stages of self-assessment, career exploration, career decision-making, and taking action. Career placement jumps to the end of the process and focuses on employer and candidate matching.

Michelle M.: This reminds me of the difference between giving a man a fish and teaching him to fish. Career counseling is more akin to teaching or empowering someone along the career development process, including job search. Career placement entails just giving students jobs, rather than teaching them how to do it for themselves.

Michelle F.: Career Services offers the tools and connections to conduct an effective job search and supports students in their search efforts. ‘Teach a man to fish…’

(Dena: I’m sensing a theme here.)

Araceli: While the primary focus of placement centers is to secure jobs for their clients, career centers help prepare and empower clients/students in their career development and job search. In career centers, individuals are given tools they can use for a lifetime. Through campus career centers, students are able to readily access, in one place, resources/events and services as it relates to career planning, graduate school, and job search.

See what I meant about resources?

With that, I’m going to go fishing. Just kidding! Though, I think the fishing metaphor is a good thing for employers to remember, as we’re not in a position to simply connect students and employers for hiring purposes. We can, however, empower both sides and provide resources and services that allow for smart, well-informed decisions with long-term goals in mind.


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