Career Center expands student outreach

Since the beginning of the school year, the Career Center has been working on some of its on-going goals, including greater outreach to first-years and sophomores and revamping its image.

The Career Center has met with 502 students through one-on-one appointments since September, which is a slight decrease from last year. John Noble, director of the Career Center, attributed this decline to the absence of two counselors in September. “For the whole of September, we were operating with just three counselors,” he said. “We were back up to speed in October.”

The busiest times for the Career Center are September and October. “That’s when we’re doing a lot of programming, but also when employers are visiting campus and conducting interviews,” Noble said. “Most employers have concluded interviews by now and are now gearing up for their internship-hiring season, which starts in January, during Winter Study. And then we do a lot of programming during Winter Study, too, because that’s when [students] have more time available.”

While the Mears Mentors program has been active this fall, most programming will occur over Winter Study. The main goals of the Mears Mentors program, besides introducing first-years to the Career Center, are to challenge all first-year students to have a review-approved résumé by the end of the school year and to encourage them to register for the Route 2 program. “It is a little early for freshmen to be thinking about their career options their first fall,” said Noble. “But we want to reach out to first-years and sophomores so that they can get informed. It’s not that they have to decide their career path, but so that they have information to begin the process.”

Utilizing Career Center resources could prove especially helpful for students interested in banking. According to Noble, many large firms, such as J.P. Morgan. no longer recruit only seniors in the fall. Instead, they also recruit juniors for their highly competitive summer internships and offer jobs to successful interns. “It’s like a summer-long job interview. If you succeed at the interview, you may have a job by the end of it,” Noble said. This hiring trend started about five or six years ago, but the system is “a little more present now,” as companies are taking the time to train their potential future employees earlier. According to Noble, this pattern may put an earlier pressure on students interested in banking, as they may want to complete an internship the summer after their sophomore year to be a more competitive candidate for potential junior year internships that could lead to a job offer post-graduation.

“[Companies] are starting to train students as early as sophomore year to prep them for postgrad opportunities,” Noble said. “The job market is getting increasingly competitive and more demanding of students. Getting prepared and being knowledgeable about different industries and their demands is important.”

About half of the student body has never come in for a counseling session at the Career Center, most of these are first-years and sophomores. “The number is getting smaller each year, but there is still a pretty big group that has never come in,” said Noble. “We want to get the message out that we can help them find that summer job or internship.”

Along with outreach, the Career Center has been working on changing students’ assumptions about their work. “We’ve been trying to change the perceptions that students generally have of what we do,” Noble said. “We do more than [investment] banking and consulting. We’re trying to get that message out, too.” According to the “Class of 2013 Destinations” available on the Career Center’s website, only 21 percent of last year’s graduates went on to jobs in the consulting and finance industries. “[The two industries are] very visible, but it is a minority of what people are interested in doing,” Noble said.

The Career Center is expanding its approach to its “Who am I?” career discovery program, in helping students find a potential career path or postgraduate opportunity based on their interests, personality and skills. The new direction, under the leadership of Michael O’Connor, director of career discovery, consists of giving students the opportunity to take a combination of two assessments, the Myers-Briggs test and the Strong-Interest inventory. Students take the two tests, receive a 16-page report of feedback with career suggestions and schedule a one-on-one session with one of the counselors for an interpretation of the results.

The Career Center relies on student feedback about its services and posts survey results regarding student satisfaction on its website. With over 1000 respondents, the responses have been positive, with about 89 percent answering that they “strongly agree” or “agree” that the advice given to them was helpful. “It’s pretty good feedback,” Noble said. “It sends the message that when you go to the Career Center, you’re usually pretty happy with what you get.”