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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!
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.
By Jo-Ann Raines, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Director Student and Alumni Career Development
Collaboration is a tool that career services’ offices use frequently. Working with faculty, other staff departments, students, and employers is a means to promote our message and programs beyond the limits of what our own staff can achieve. This year Career Development Services (CDS) entered into a unique partnership with a student group that has proved beneficial to both of us.
Last spring we were approached by our newly-revived student chapter of Toastmasters International. They had an interesting proposal: in exchange for assisting with their membership fees, the members were willing to work with us in a quasi-ambassador role to spread the good news about our programs and services. Toastmasters is an organization whose goals closely match one of ours, which is to help our students develop their oral communication skills in an intentional manner. Employers have long said that speaking clearly with purpose and organization is a skill they desire in their employees, including interns and recent grads. We agreed to the proposal, held training sessions on CDS programs and services for the members, and embarked on initiatives for the fall semester.
The collaboration began with Coffee and Cocoa in the Morning, where the group’s representatives offered free coffee and cocoa to arriving students, staff, and faculty on two mornings in November. They distributed fliers marketing themselves and our office and answered quick questions. Toastmasters’ students helped us staff our weekly CDS at the Campus Center information table where we address student inquiries and review resumes.
Three events in quick succession were particularly effective: the president of the organization acted as a co-host for our yearly Diversity Dining Etiquette event in November. In addition to the introductory remarks, he led the ice breaker and facilitated the employer panel, including Q and A. On another occasion, one of the members performed the introduction for John Decker, an alumnus and NASA engineer emeritus who was visiting campus and making class visits.
The final event was a push by Toastmasters to engage students in a free offering to the student body, the Bloomberg Terminal Certification, which gave students training in trading stocks and bonds, resume exposure, interview preparation, and connections with 300,000+ users. Although already offered through the Martin Tuchman School of Management at NJIT, student usage was not robust. Toastmasters took on the challenge and arranged for three days sponsored by the organization where students could sign up for stations spots and begin their certification process. Marketing materials for Toastmasters and CDS were provided and student representatives were available during the day in the Financial Analysis Lab to answer questions about themselves and CDS. This event boosted student participation in the certification process by more than double from attendance in previous weeks and increased CDS visibility.
We meet with Toastmasters liaisons every other week during the semester and will begin to plan spring activities once the new semester has begun. We are looking forward to more opportunities for mutual benefit with this engaged group of students.
Jo-Ann R. Raines is the Director of Student and Alumni Development in Career Development Services at New Jersey Institute of Technology, Newark, NJ. She has been with the university for 28 years in progressively responsible positions in career services. She currently manages the quality of career advisement and delivery of experiential learning programs and activities for undergraduate and graduate students. Jo-Ann has a BA from St. John’s University in Social Sciences and an MA in Higher and Adult Education from Teachers College, Columbia University.
By Ethan Selinger, Northeastern University
In today’s globalized world, it easy to connect with others, both in-person and online. The ability to create and maintain a professional network, both in-person and online, is vital to professional development and discovering job opportunities. As a career services professional, I believe it is essential that we educate our students on successfully building and utilizing a professional network.
Through my own teaching on the subject, I have found that many students still believe that searching on job boards and applying through company websites is the best method to finding a position. While utilizing a college’s job board and strategically applying online can be useful (especially for finding internships and co-ops), building a professional network can make finding a full-time job (and co-op and internship) much easier.
There are a variety of networking opportunities that are beneficial for students to take advantage of. These include:
- Informational Interviews- In my opinion, informational interviews are under utilized by students. I find myself encouraging students more often than not to try setting up and carrying out informational interviews with employers, students with experience in the professional world, etc. Informational interviews are an excellent tool for students to build their network while simultaneously learning more about a company, position, etc. As I tell my students, “people love to talk about themselves.”
- LinkedIn- LinkedIn, the professional online networking site, has a variety of available tools and functions that allow people to effectively build a network, especially for students. LinkedIn provides various capabilities that make networking easy for students. For example, searching an institution’s LinkedIn page allows students to filter alumni by their place of employment. If a student is interested in a particular company, finding potential alumni contacts provides an excellent blueprint for creating a new contact(s) in that company, and possibly setting up an informational interview/learning more about opportunities. Furthermore, recruiters do use LinkedIn to find potential candidates. LinkedIn has become a key component of my co-op prep courses, as setting up an engaging, informative profile is vital to both networking and job searching.
- Conferences- Being in Boston, I often encourage my students to lookout for potential conference opportunities. Being able to learn and meet potential contacts in their professional field can be vital to both professional development and networking.
These are some brief examples I use to help my students think about and build their professional networks. College members, how do you help your students develop their professional networks? Employer members, how do you encourage students to build their networks?
Ethan Selinger is currently a Cooperative Education (Co-op) Advisor at Northeastern University’s College of Computer and Information Science.
By Jo-Ann Raines, Director, Career Development Services, New Jersey Institute of Technology
After the stress of finishing projects and taking final exams, students look forward to the weeks of semester break and time to relax or travel. Before they leave for that much-anticipated time off, we can encourage them to be creative and use the break as a strategic interval in the career development process. Some alternatives they can consider:
- Review and revise the resume—Now that the fall semester has concluded, a review of accomplishments, new gpa, completed projects, major related courses, and extracurricular activities is in order.
- Update social media—LinkedIn is recognized as a valuable tool for networking and the job search. Students can create a profile or update the existing one. If students wish to include a photo, encourage them to use a shot that is professional in its setting.
- Short internships—Taking on a short term internship is a good way to add to overall work experience and can be another source of additional networking contacts. The internship can be full time or part time, depending on the agreement between student and employer.
- Finding a mentor—Having an experienced person as a guide in the career development process is a great advantage for emerging young professionals. The winter break can be an opportunity to review a list of previous contacts from school, community activities, and previous work experiences to identify a prospective mentor.
- Information interviewing—After the holiday festivities have died down, students can reach out to a couple of network referrals who can shed some light on what they do and how they came to their careers.
- Civic engagement—The holiday season offers may occasions to give back to the community. Volunteering has the triple advantage of providing assistance to those in need, adding another dimension to the resume, and supplying another means to build the professional network.
- Social situations—This is a season for parties, dinners, meeting up with friends and family, and making new acquaintances. When appropriate, sharing short and long term career aspirations can lead to helpful information for future reference.
Students can advance their career development process while classes are not in session and they have more control over their time. These suggestions are a few that can get them thinking and provide a boost to their career plans.
Jo-Ann Raines is the Director of Student and Alumni Career Development at New Jersey Institute of Technology.
With the semester wrapping up, we find ourselves planning for winter and spring! As you begin your plans, consider attending the EACE Winter Meet-Up taking place on Monday, January 8 at The College of New Jersey. During this half-day drive-in conference, join fellow EACE members in expert-led panels and interactive group sessions – all in time for spring semester! As the date approaches, we connected with Debra Klokis, co-chair of the Professional Development Committee, and she shared the top 5 reasons to attend the meet-up:
- You are able to network with colleagues
- It is an affordable, in-person professional development opportunity
- There are topics for Employers and Career Center Professionals
- It is an opportunity to visit a different college campus
- It is always fun to attend an EACE event!
Debra Klokis is the Associate Director of the Career Center at The College of New Jersey. Debra has been a member of EACE since 2010 and currently serves as co-chair of the Professional Development Committee. Previously, she served as co-chair of the Road Trips to the Real World Committee.
By Jo-Ann Raines, Director, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Career Development Services
The federal government is a source of challenging and rewarding internship and career opportunities. It has also suffered from an image problem. Uncle Sam has been characterized as an employer with boring, predictable jobs for paper pushers. The myth exists that you have to work in Washington, DC to be a fed. Another bad rap is the salary structure—non competitive with the private sector. Less tangible is the premise that it wasn’t “sexy” to work for the feds, and even if you wanted to, the application process was a mystery at worst and cumbersome at best.
So should the federal government remain in our repertoire of options to suggest to students? Indeed, yes! Through an Innovation Grant from the Partnership for Public Service, NJIT came to a deeper appreciation of what the federal government has to offer someone in the job search process. The jobs are first and foremost an opportunity to serve the country. Only 15% of federal positions are located in Washington, DC. The rest are spread across the United States and some abroad. The jobs can be exciting and unexpected in the variety of challenges they offer. Salaries are competitive, commensurate with level of education and experience, and the benefits are excellent.
The economic downturn that began in 2008 and lasted several years had an impact on hiring in the federal sector as it did with private industry. Budgets were reduced and this caused frustration in applicants and advisors alike. But there has been an uptick in hiring, especially as it relates to cyber security, and some facts remain true. The federal government has an aging population who is taking its knowledge and experience with them into retirement. Also there are certain functions within agencies that must be maintained, most evidently the afore-mentioned cyber security. Under President Barack Obama, hiring practices were revamped and the Pathways Program for Students and Recent Graduates was created. Pathways provides opportunities for federal internships for current students and provisional full time opportunities for graduates up to two years out. Eligible participants may be considered for conversion to full time employment. For details on the Pathways Program, go to https://www.usajobs.gov/Help/working-in-government/unique-hiring-paths/students/
Jo-Ann Raines is the Director of Student and Alumni Career Development at New Jersey Institute of Technology.
By Chloe J. McILwaine, University of Pittsburgh Office of Career Development and Placement Assistance
Before we know it, we will all be boarding our planes, trains and automobiles and making the journey to Reston, VA for this year’s EACE Annual Conference. However, before the New Year comes upon us, we want to do a short highlight on our ever-so deserving Award Recipients from EACE 2017.
What makes these recipients and awards even more prestigious, is that they are voted for by our peers. Being a member of EACE can be so much more than simply going to a conference or event a couple of times a year – it is a way to connect with like-minded individuals, to learn from each other, to have an impact on fellow professionals and peer institutions. That is what these winners have done!
Dr. Alicia Monroe was awarded the Distinguished Leadership Award. Alicia took the time to tell us about what EACE means to her:
“If you look at the EACE mission, some keywords that pop are develops, facilitates, connects, and serves. The core values of EACE reflect these dynamic keywords and then some. EACE, for me, is real space and real community. Members, regardless of title or professional affiliation, willingly share their expertise, work collaboratively, and inspire and encourage one another. I cherish the relationships and network that I have established through EACE and look forward to attending our annual conference in Reston, VA. We work hard and play a bit, too.”
The recipient of the outstanding new member award went to Stefano Verdesoto. Here is what Stefano has to say about his time within EACE so far:
“EACE has played a major role in my personal and professional development. I first joined the organization three years ago while in graduate school. Since then, I attended events, joined a committee, began attending annual conference, and then moved to co-chair of public relations, all while making great connections and good friends along the way. Earning the 2017 Outstanding New Member Award was an absolute honor. I am beyond grateful for the opportunities I have received during my first three years, and I am excited to continue my involvement with EACE throughout my career.”
Christine Cervelli was the thoroughly deserved winner of this year’s Outstanding Member Award. Christine shared with us some insight into her time as part of EACE:
“Being involved with EACE has been one of the professional highlights of my career. My first experience with EACE was at a conference and I truly enjoyed the networking and support I received as a newcomer. I signed up for a committee and continued working with EACE as a Co-Chair in different committees for the last few years. I have developed relationships with career center colleagues and employers that probably would not have been possible without EACE. Being selected for the Outstanding Member Award last year was truly an honor. I have enjoyed all of the time I have been involved with EACE and look forward to being involved in the future.”
Kimberly Dixon was the recipient of the Innovation in Diversity and Inclusion Award. Kimberly, and her team at Stony Brook University Career Center created the Diversity Career Preparation Program Series. In response to a growing need to support employers with diversity recruiting initiatives, and Kimberly Dixon’s passion to prepare underrepresented students for the world of work, Kimberly developed the Diversity Professional Leadership Network (DPLN) in 2008. Students are paired with professionals for mentoring, and guaranteed interviews with partnering organizations to pipeline talent. Past participants have gone on to work at organizations including Barclays, GE, Viacom, NBA, Texas Instruments, and Target to name a few. Based on the outstanding results as well as positive feedback from our corporate sponsors, the Diversity Career Preparation Series will continue to be showcased as a signature diversity program on campus.
Deserved Tribute Award winner, Robbin Beauchamp, gives us a look into her journey with EACE:
“When I was relatively new to the career services field, my then-director insisted her staff get involved with EACE. For me, this meant, among other things, taking advantage of the Professional Exchange visits. I could travel and see the inner workings of organizations that I would not have had access to if not for EACE. Because of the networking I did while on Professional Exchange visits, I forged relationships with members that allowed me to expand my participation in EACE to become a member and then co-chair of committees, including Professional Exchange. This involvement allowed me to be elected twice to the board of directors. These experiences helped me to become a better career services practitioner and ultimately, an effective director and chief career services officer. Honestly, I owe my career to the people of EACE and it all started with going on a few Professional Exchange visits.”
And finally, Springfield College received the Innovation in Program Development Award. Scott Dranka is able to give us a little look at how EACE benefits an entire staff:
“The Springfield College Career Center has greatly benefited from EACE’s professional resources and offerings including but not limited to the annual conference, a highly visible and informative social media presence, supportive webinars, a comprehensive website, the Road Trips to the Real World series, employer site visits, and being able to share best practices and dialogue with fellow EACE members. Having comprehensive EACE resources, in all platforms, has allowed our team to stay current with career-development and employment trends, gain further knowledge of upcoming concepts and growth areas, and be informed of innovative programming and engaged learning opportunities that we continuously review and incorporate into our daily work in the Career Center in order to best inform and support our students, alumni, employers, faculty, and all additional constituents.”
As mentioned, these awards are nominated by your fellow peers and EACE members. Our 2018 awards will be presented at the EACE 2018 Conference in Reston, VA, so why not nominate someone who you think is as deserving as our recipients above.
Nominations are open now through Jan. 26th : http://www.eace.org/?page=EACEawards
Chloe J. McILwaine is a Career Consultant for Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) at University of Pittsburgh Office of Career Development and Placement Assistance. Chloe is an active member of the EACE PR Committee and the EACE Awards and Research Grants Committee.