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Why Students Skip Info Sessions, And What You Can Do About It

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A few months ago, I attended a graduate business career services bench-marking meeting (say that three times!). During our discussion, many group members expressed concern over declining attendance numbers at corporate info sessions. At the MBA and MS level, we welcome a good number of firms to campus to present, year in and year out. However, numbers keep declining, and the reasons why keep growing.

 

  • First, students might perceive the presentations as boring and a “waste of time.” Why dress up when they can browse a firm’s career site while half-watching a show from home?
  • Second, students often times express frustration over their inability to stand out from the crowd, make genuine connections, and ask individual questions. What is the point of attending an hour-long presentation to feel awkward at the end and unable to ask questions?
  • Last, students may not feel committed to attend if they will not face any consequences for not showing up. Unlike missing a ticketed event, class, or doctor’s appointment, there may not be any real harm in missing a career center program. Why show up to an info session if there is nothing to lose?

 

With these and many other challenges, what may be the alternative to these programs? Long story short – it depends. What works on one campus, may not work on another. Our student populations, including their demographics, preferences, and career aspirations, vary widely. Therefore, it is challenging to prescribe a one-size-fits-all approach. However, here are a few things to consider:

 

  • Push for more specialized and, if appropriate, more casual programs on campus, including coffee chats, meet-ups, round-table discussions, and meet the recruiter/representative office hours. These smaller, more intimate programs might appeal to students who feel left out in bigger presentations.
  • Educate your students on what to expect during info sessions. Manage expectations and let them know that if a recruiter or presenter shares contact information, it is okay to follow up via email to e-introduce themselves and ask questions.
  • Revisit your career center program policies and processes, if any. If a student does not show, consider tasking a student assistant with following up, asking if everything is okay, informing them of your no-show policy, and marking a record on file, as appropriate.

 

What else? How do you tackle declining numbers, keep things relevant, and maintain your programs? Share your thoughts in the comments below or let’s connect!

 

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About the author: Stefano Verdesoto serves as Assistant Director of Employer Relations at the Zicklin School of Business, Baruch College.  In his role, Stefano leads accounting employer relations and co-manages on-campus recruiting (OCR), as well as supports student organizations in coordinating information sessions and networking events with firms. Prior to Baruch, Stefano worked in career services at Hofstra University and at the University at Buffalo. While pursuing his undergraduate and graduate degrees, he also worked in admissions and recruiting, alumni relations, new student programs, and college communications.  Follow him on Twitter @gsverdesoto.

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