Promoting Your Career Center
By Jo-Ann Raines, Director, NJIT Career Development Services, Student/Alumni Career Development
Career Services staff on college campuses often lament that students are often clueless of the availability of career advisement and ancillary services and programs. How many of us have heard, “I didn’t know you people were here!” or something similar, a couple of months before graduation. Even with consistent marketing and outreach in various forms, engaging students can be a challenge.
Career Development Services at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) recently offered a new event for us, tied to the opening of our new office in a main campus building last December. In the spring, we decided to hold an open house to show off the new digs and give students an opportunity to find us in our new spot or to find us for the first time. As the planning progressed, we decided to include faculty and staff as part of the target audience and invited our advisory board members to take part. This was not going to be a cookies-and-punch event with a ribbon cutting. Instead it evolved into showcase of what we had to offer our multiple constituent groups.
Held on a Friday around common hour for 2 ½ hours, we utilized every available space in and around the office. Registration was held in the outside hallway, where we also had a photo booth set up for photos with the Highlander, our school mascot. As students entered, they were given a passport and offered a selection of activities using our interview rooms, civic engagement center, and work study student area. For each activity they attended, they got a sticker for the passport which they could submit for a raffle for a raffle (gift card to the NJIT bookstore) as they were leaving. They had a choice of 5-10 minute presentations by staff on Big Interview, LinkedIn, and Creating a Strong Resume. Corporate partners gave 5 to 10 minute briefings in shifts on their companies and answered students’ questions. In our Civic Engagement Center, students were invited to enter their employment information into our database, allowing us to gather information on internships and part time jobs we may not otherwise have obtained. They were also encouraged to sign up for volunteer activities for the semester. And of course, there was food. We set up three food and beverage stations throughout the office that quickly ran out (if you feed them, they will come!).
In an adjacent conference room, two corporate advisory board members hosted separate panels on A Whole New World: Navigating the Workplace as a Young Professional. In our Career Resource Center, three staff members interacted with faculty and university staff on services to students, employer engagement, and community service and how faculty could become more involved with our office. Staff wore our uniform red shirts and name tags, and our work study students who acted as guides wore their black counterpart shirts. After the guests had departed, we hosted the advisory board members with lunch in the executive director’s office. They had earned it!
Needless to say, it was a jam-packed 2 ½ hours, literally and figuratively. We registered over 300 students in attendance but missed many because of the crowd. This was a very collaborative event, greatly enhanced by the participation of our advisory board members. You may want to consider hosting this event on a smaller or larger scale, if you haven’t had a similar one in the recent past.