Deadlines for permanent jobs and summer internships are quickly approaching. Given the drop in employment opportunities due to the global economic downturn, the prospect of securing positions remains tenuous for everyone. Williams students searching for a position may be unaware of the ongoing efforts being made by the Office of Career Counseling (OCC) to cultivate connections with key organizations on their behalf. The OCC has fostered close alliances with, among others companies, Ford Motor Company, Hewlett-Packard, Raytheon Company and the U.S. Department of Labor.
In addition, the OCC is offering students valuable support services, which include workshops, panels and presentations aimed at giving detailed analyses of specific fields that can be used in students’ quest for employment. For example, the OCC conducts workshops designed to assist students in constructing a resume, provide techniques needed for effective job interviewing and enumerate strategies on selecting an appropriate summer internship. The OCC also organizes panels with representatives from prestigious universities, geared to educate prospective applicants with respect to programs in law, medicine, international affairs and journalism. Regarding on-campus presentations, the OCC arranges for approximately 200 prominent alumni to discuss their careers in education, public policy and computer science. Three recruitment fairs are held annually in Boston, New York and at the Williams Inn. In these gatherings, representatives from science research centers, financial institutions, paralegal firms and non-profit organizations discuss their respective fields of work, in the hopes of recruiting Williams students. It is noteworthy that, during the academic year of 2001-2002, the OCC handled 1,336 student appointments and 363 walk-in visits (according to Williams OCC At a Glance). Last year, the program provided 124 students with the opportunity to explore their particular interests while receiving a generous stipend ranging from $1,320 to $2,640. Fortunate enough to be one of those selected as a summer intern last year, I pursued work in the non-profit sector, which would have been financially difficult without grant support. The OCC staff was knowledgeable, encouraging and very helpful during my job selection process.
Tantamount to successfully completing the process was realizing that the OCC was inundated with assisting many fellow students and that personal involvement was going to be critical to a positive outcome. As a result of my experience, I have come to the realization that the OCC’s role is to guide students through the search process. Expectations of the OCC to secure employment for students are misguided. Key to the employment process is the early recognition that the ultimate responsibility lies in the hands of the student, and that the OCC is an effective collaborator. Many of my high school colleagues were impressed as to how Williams could offer students, frosh in particular, such a variety of internship opportunities. Williams appears to be one of a handful of institutions that is in a position to financially support students who strive to acquire summer employment in the fields of public policy, government, community service, environmental studies and art.
A growing percentage of economists predict that ongoing structural changes in the global economy will continue to adversely impact the U.S. job market. As such, the OCC’s close relationship with alumni will continue to play a pivotal link in connecting graduating Williams students with the job market. By directing attention towards maximizing utilization of the OCC, we â€“ the student body â€“ will demonstrate to the administration the importance of this organization. In so doing, the administration may increase its financial support of the OCC, which plays a key role in determining what life will be like when the time comes to leave Williams College.