Colleges similar in job services

by Kathrin Weston | 11/23/98 6:00am

While Dartmouth's rural location may be attractive to students looking to get away from the big city and enjoy winter sports, it can be less enticing to employers looking to hire college students.

But Dartmouth's year-round operation can be just as troublesome.

"Our calendar probably creates as many problems as our location," Career Services Director Skip Sturman said. "It's no so daunting it scares off all employers."

Both the D-plan and the northern geography can be obstacles.

Sturman said schools located in big cities have an easier time organizing events such as career fairs for non-profit jobs or other fields that do not recruit heavily at colleges.

It is one thing to have people stop by for a few hours after work to discuss their jobs with college students, Sturman said, but quite another to ask them to give up two days to get to Hanover and meet Dartmouth students.

Even for corporate recruiters who will visit, Sturman said, Dartmouth's calendar can interfere with the "real growing trend to try to get out to campus earlier and earlier."

"We're not geared up in the fall to just have students come back" and immediately start interviewing, Sturman said.

The same calendar can be advantageous for students seeking internships if they do not have to compete with students from other colleges who mostly look for summer internships.

Alumni looking for jobs could also use Career Services more than they currently do if they did not have to find a way to Hanover to do so.

But to some extent, technology is opening a lot of doors that Dartmouth's location and calendar might have closed before. "Especially now with the Internet ... geographical limitations are not what they used to be," Sturman said.

Beyond geography, not much separates Dartmouth from other schools when it comes to finding students jobs.

All around the world

Kathryn Hutchinson, associate director of Career Services said the staff encourages students to come to the office from the first year on, and does not expect students, even seniors, to come to the office with any specific plans.

Once they know where their interests lie, students can look up job listings organized by career field and geographic location, either on-line or in binders in the Career Services Office. Students can then submit their resumes and cover-letters to the Career Services office, which collects them and sends them to the companies.

A Dartmouth degree is highly regarded by employers, yet a degree alone will not open every door, Sturman said. Dartmouth students are attractive to employers because they frequently have real-world job experience, thanks to the quarter system, and "know what it's like to work," he said.

Harvard University offers similar Career Services programs and resources. Students whose career plans are still vague, or who are undecided can go to the Office of Career Services and meet with one of 13 counselors in different fields to discuss everything from their personal interests to job opportunities with specific companies, Harvard's Recruiting Director Judy Murray said.

Appointments with counselors are very easy to schedule, and students frequently take advantage of this possibility, she said. Students can also pick up lists of companies, company literature and brochures provided in the office.

Career Services at Harvard also offers workshops on career planning, job search strategies and gathering information on different job sectors, she said. Frequently, these workshops feature alumni or students with experience in a particular area as guest speakers.

Kamil Redmond, a junior at Harvard said she thinks many students are intimidated or unwilling to take advantage of the resources at Career Service. Students are not sure what goes on there, she said, and feel uncomfortable about simply going to the office, she said. She said she thinks Career Services needs to be more proactive and make exactly what they offer clearer to students.

"They need to start reaching out more to students," she said.

The Career Services Office at Princeton University has four counselors as a resource to students confused about their future plans, Bynia Reed, a student assistant at the Career Services Office said.

Students can schedule appointments and meet to ask career questions and find out about available resources, she said. The counselors also help students write resumes and work on interviewing skills. In addition, Princeton's Career Services library has 20 binders with company addresses and career opportunities in different fields downloaded from Jobtrak.

There are also binders with information about summer jobs and internships, and 14 binders containing the names and addresses of Princeton alumni participating in the Alumni Career Network, Reed said. The binders with information on alumni are cross-listed by fields and by state, and students can contact them for advice or to ask for more information on a particular job field.

About 20 to 30 students a day, most of them juniors and seniors, take advantage of the resources at the Career Services Office, Reed said. The Office also strongly advertises its services in the Princeton newspapers, she said.

"We're pretty busy, especially during this time," she said.

Columbia University students clueless about their future careers can meet with one of six career counselors to discuss everything from the first steps in a job-search to cover-letters and resumes, Director of Employee Relations Patricia Macken said. Appointments are very easy to obtain, she said.

Every year, Columbia Career Services holds a mandatory one-hour job-search workshop for graduating seniors and graduate students which covers everything from writing resumes to acquiring critical job search training, Macken said. Once a month, there is also a panel entitled "What to do when you don't know what to do."

Columbia also holds four career fairs, to which alumni are invited, and two mock-interview days, where students have the chance to work on their interviews skills after an evaluation of the interview. Students can meet recent alumni who come to Columbia to discuss their graduate school experiences at alumni panels.

Columbia's Career Resource Library gives students access to company literature and brochures, as well as books on everything from writing a resume to negotiating a salary, Macken said. Columbia also processes 18, 000 opportunities for full-time jobs over the Jobtrak database, she said.

For those students who are considering going on to graduate school, Columbia's Career Resource Center also has printed and on-line resources, such as details on specific graduate school programs, advice and applications for exams like the LSATs or the GREs.

Career Services at Cornell University tells a slightly different story, as each of the school's seven undergraduate colleges has its own Career Services program, Interim Director of University Career Services Jane Levy said. In addition to the counseling staff in the individual Career Services offices, there is one at-large Information Services counselor, she said.

These counselors meet with students to discuss their job planning, to help organize their job search, and to advise them with every step in the process, Levy said. In addition, Cornell has a computerized guidance program designed to help students clarify their career directions and find out what they really want and in which areas they are likely to be successful.

Once students have a plan, they can go to the Career Services library, where they can research career options and possible employers with the help of the library's directories, books providing information about different careers, job bulletins and company reports, Levy said.

At Duke University's Career Services Office, students can also take assessment tests to pinpoint their strengths and weaknesses and their fields of interest free of charge, Duke Source Coordinator Antoinette Qutamy said.

Through an acronym program called OGRE (Occupational Goals, Reflection and Exploration), students can find assistance in shaping their career goals and locating companies.

Six career counselors are available to assist students with writing their resumes, and can also provide guidance and orientation in small group meetings, she said.

In addition, students can meet with one of ten specialized career counselors if they have some career plans, or a general counselor to discuss their career options and to receive guidance in the process of looking for a graduate school or a job "if they are completely lost," Qutamy said. The career counselors are specialists in all career areas, from business to the arts to government, she said.

She called Duke's Career Development Library one of the main Career Services resources, as students can find information on graduate schools, different career fields, company literature and catalogs with listings of companies on CD-ROM here. They cannot take materials out, she said, but are allowed to photocopy them.

Amherst, similar to Dartmouth in its size and its rural location with respect to urban centers, offers a special feature at its Career Services Office, Student Assistant Emily Levin said.

For its "peer career advising system," specially trained students are on duty at the office for two hours a day to help other students asses themselves and their career goals on an individual basis. The peer advisors are trained to answer questions about career fields and the job-search process, and they also review and critique students' resumes and cover-letters, Levin explained. The office also provides workshops on writing cover-letters and resumes, she said.

In addition, students seeking advice or guidance can also meet with specialized counselors by dropping by during open hours or simply scheduling appointments, Levin said.

Throughout the year, the college also organizes sessions where students can practice their interviewing skills in mock interviews, as well as alumni panels for which the five affiliated schools are used as a greater base, Levin said. Amherst frequently holds career fairs, and is currently holding a "Career Carnival," where mostly recent alumni speak with students about their job fields, she said.

After the first step, meeting with a counselor, students can look through binders filled with job information, organized by field, in the Career Services Library, Levin said. They also have access to different catalogs with the names of alumni, possible job opportunities with a certain major, and information about various career fields. The library also provides information about specific companies and books on applying to graduate schools.

Online services

Like students at Dartmouth, Harvard students can also look up job listings and information about Career Services resources online on the Career Services web page. For more information on writing cover letters or resumes, or for students who are nervous about an upcoming interview, the Career Services web page provides advice and sample letters and interview questions.

At Columbia, apart from alumni panels or appointments with counselors, students can also make use of Columbia's Career Services web site. Here, they can find lists of the best job sites on the Internet, and also look at the "Career Capsules," short pieces containing information about specific career fields.

To introduce students to the job-search process, the Web site also has a page titled "Job search 101," which offers guidelines and information. Students can read about finding internships, creating resumes, and writing cover-letters. In addition, the page contains a list of action verbs it claims might be useful in job applications, such as "accelerate, accomplish, restructure, revitalize," and provides information on how to conduct a successful interview.

To receive more information about events organized by career Services, students can register with Columbia's Studnet service. Studnet offers a list of fields in which Career services holds events. Students can mark the ones in which they are particularly interested, and will receive personal e-mail from Career Services to bring their attention to any events that might be interesting to them.

Once Columbia students have made some career choices and have written a computerized resume and completed job applications, also on a computer, the Career Services Offices collects them and sends them to the respective companies electronically, Macken said. The companies then print out the applications and directly contact those students they decide to invite for interviews.

Dimitri Apessos, a senior at Columbia, said he has had a very positive experience working with Career Services in the past. His sophomore year, he said, he used the career listings to find an internship. When he "went back for more" a year later, he said, Career Services had changed most of their resources to a computerized base for the sake of efficiency.

For him, however, the new completely computerized job search is more difficult, he said. Although Career Services offers workshops on using the computer resources, he said he and many of his friends found it too difficult to submit resumes electronically and decided not to use the help of Career Services in their job searches.

"It makes things easier for them, but I don't know if it makes things easier for us," he said.

The Career Services Web site at Cornell offers a general introduction to resources available to students at the office. In the office itself, students have access to computerized catalogs of jobs in specific career fields, Jane Levy, Interim Director of University Career Services said. Through Jobtrak, which is updated daily, Levy said, students can look up not only on-line job listings, but also company profiles, career descriptions and information about specific job applications.

Similar information is available on Duke's homepage, which also offers the "Career Doctor," a program that suggests different career fields to students after they enter their interests. Through this program, students can also read about the career fields in which their major would be useful.

Like Cornell, Duke's Career Development Services offer students the option of on-line recruiting and job applications, Qutamy said. Students simply look up a company's folder on the Internet and electronically drop off their resumes, and if they are chosen for interviews, companies contact them the same way, she said. Career Services has no part in the actual application process beyond advising students and providing information.

"We're not a placement center," Qutamy said.

The Alumni Connection

An extensive alumni network can also play a role for students seeking a job, whether they wish to contact alumni at specific companies or simply want to discuss the experience of working in a certain career field.

At Dartmouth, more than 13,000 alumni volunteer to discuss career fields or job opportunities with different majors through the Alumni Career Advisory Network. Students can also attend panels to hear professionals, among them alumni, speak about their career fields or graduate schools.

Students at Harvard can look up information about alumni in career fields that interest them through a database accessible from the Career Services Office. The Career Services web page points out that these alumni are intended to serve as information and referral sources, and caution students to "contact alumni with discretion," adding they "should not be approached as if they are prospective employers with current openings."

At Columbia, alumni are a regular part of Career Services. Every Thursday during the academic year, Career Services organizes a one-hour alumni panel so students can discuss career concerns with alumni in different fields. These panels cover topics from "Careers in Consulting" to "Jobs for people who like to work with people" and "Advice from the Class of '98," in various areas such as law, public service, science and freelance careers, Macken said.

Through the Alumni Partnership program, students have the opportunity to attend dinners with alumni in different fields who had expressed an interest in working with Career Services. Fifteen to 20 students at a time watch a presentation at these dinners, followed by a questions and answer session, Macken said.

The alumni network also provides a large resource for Duke students. An on-line listing protected by a password contains the names and addresses of more than 5,800 alumni who have volunteered to provide students with advice and information on their career fields, Qutamy said. Students have access to these listings, but they must contact the alumni themselves, without the assistance of Career Services, she said.

The same is true at Amherst, where students can contact alumni directly, but not through Career Services, Levin said. Some alumni also contact Career Services saying they would like to offer their advice to students and serve as a resource as part of the alumni program, she said.

Recruiting

Most companies who participate in on-campus recruiting are banking and consulting corporations, but some universities also receive recruiting visits from employers in other fields.

At Harvard, many banks and consulting firms come to the campus in February, while more diverse companies make recruiting trips in March, Murray said. Graduating students who want to participate in recruiting bring their resumes and specific application materials to the recruiting office, sign up for an interviewing slot and receive an on-campus recruiting guide when they come to the office.

The companies who come to Princeton for recruiting are also mostly banking and consulting firms, Reed said.

If students are interested in applying for jobs with companies that traditionally recruit Princeton graduates but do not come to the campus for recruiting, they can drop off their resumes and cover letters at the recruiting office, which sends the materials to the companies, she said. Students then get call-backs for interviews directly from the companies, Reed said.

At Columbia in New York City, more than 400 potential employers come to campus for recruiting each year. Although most of them are large corporations because they are the ones who have the financial resources to make use of on-campus recruiting, Macken said, the Columbia campus also sees many advertising and non-profit recruiters.

Most of the more than 600 companies that come to Cornell annually to recruit are financial and consulting firms, Levy said.

"They're simply the ones who have the budgets to send people," she said.

At Duke, the more than 150 organizations who come to campus to recruit are also usually large corporations, because they are the ones who can afford to come to Duke's campus, Qutamy said.

Amherst experiences two main time periods, Levin said. Most companies, mainly banking and consulting firms, come to campus in the fall, while other companies and recruiting staff from graduate schools come in the spring.

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