This year, the Career Center is attempting to find innovative ways to meet student demand for its services, which has nearly overwhelmed the ability of the Center’s five staffed career counselors to address the needs of the College’s 2200 students. In response, the Career Center has developed a new position, Mears Mentors, to alleviate the demand the Center sees from first-years. While we applaud the Career Center for seeking extra help to meet demand, we have concerns about several facets of the position.
While Mears Mentors will be trained to improve resumes and give limited career advice, we worry that resume workshops do not adequately address the unique career concerns of first-years. Many first-years enter the College without a clear career plan and use the Career Center as resource for exploring options. While many students will require help refining resumes, they must have a general career plan before they can construct a resume that reflects the field they will enter. Accordingly, the Career Center and Mears Mentors should prioritize guiding first-years in exploring new fields, not just in advising students with limited work experience to tweak their resumes.
Given the first-year’s focus on exploration, we believe that employing sophomores rather than upperclassmen naturally limits the effectiveness of Mears Mentors. Sophomores have limited experience with career-related activities: At most, they will have completed one collegiate summer internship or job and having not even declared a major until the end of the year, will have limited perspective on careers and job markets. Upperclassmen could offer more perspective and experience that could be useful to first-years who are looking to build a career trajectory.
We also think the current strategy for Mears Mentors to interact with entries is strange. It seems unnecessary and potentially awkward to force Mears Mentors to go to Snacks with entry mentees. It would be more useful to have Mears Mentors serve as an available resource, rather than force interaction. Serving as an available resource would entail Mears Mentors making a brief appearance in an entry to explain their role and then serving as a point of access for students seeking career advice, potentially through e-mail or brief meetings.
We at the Record applaud the Career Center for seeking new ways to engage first-years, but we think this position must respond to the unique needs of first-years. Further, the College must recognize that a Mears Mentor cannot fill the role of a career counselor. The Career Center is an invaluable service to students, and if the staff finds it difficult to meet the campus’ needs, then the College should consider hiring additional career counselors.