de Guardiola: Better Opportunities

by Mercedes de Guardiola | 5/9/16 5:30pm

Without a doubt, one of Dartmouth’s biggest draws to prospective students is its outstanding alumni network and the jobs it offers. On the College’s website, it boasts that “a Dartmouth degree leads to success.” In this day and age when college costs are becoming increasingly insurmountable, return on investment matters, and Dartmouth delivers: in 20 years, our ROI is $822,600 — one of the best in the nation.

In an information session during an official campus visit the first thing often mentioned is the D-Plan ­— or, more importantly, how taking a term off during the school year will help you get that once-in-a-lifetime internship. What’s not mentioned is the trade-off: as The Dartmouth Editorial Board covered in its May 5 piece “Real Term, Real Education,” students have to stay on campus for sophomore summer. They pay the same price in tuition for fewer classes, food and housing options. What’s implied during these sessions is that while students lose the chance at a summer internship, Dartmouth will help them get an equally great one during the school year.

At first glance, the facts look great. If the 20-year ROI is so high, the D-Plan must do something right. But money isn’t everything, and one of the frequent complaints at Dartmouth is that the Center for Professional Development only really works if you’re looking for a job in finance or consulting.

Last week, The Dartmouth reporter Raul Rodriguez ’19 covered Vocate, an alumni-run startup focused on offering a free online career services platform. As he discusses in his article, more Dartmouth students are turning to services outside of the College to find jobs.

But why? While the CPD maintains good ties with many financial institutions, the same doesn’t seem to hold for non-finance or consulting jobs. The CPD is meant to serve as a resource to all students, not just economics majors. Although there are real issues with logistics, financing and manpower, Dartmouth is a world class institution for higher learning. If we want to compete with other colleges, the CPD should offer equally amazing opportunities for all students.

However, the issue isn’t just with a bias towards certain jobs. Regardless of major or job type, I have found that the majority of my peers struggle with the CPD’s online platform: Dartboard.

For the uninitiated, Dartboard the official job-listing site for Dartmouth students, is a semi-functional mess. While a thorough search can turn up a few good job opportunities, navigation of the site is a wormhole. For example, theoretically a keyword search and industry/career field search would return similar results, but they do not.

Given that Dartmouth is known for its focus on technology, the site should be improved. If the school wants to talk up the benefits of the D-Plan, they should extend that to Dartboard: why not have a feature that lets you search by semester? Currently, searches of season keywords often result in internships that cross between terms. Instead, the CPD could have companies post job listings under the Dartmouth term it corresponds to by simply including it as part of the job listing form.

In addition, support for internships should be improved. Once students have found jobs, one of the biggest concerns is housing. Dartmouth students have to pay one of the highest tuition rates in the country. If your internship is unpaid, finding affordable housing can be a nightmare. On the CPD website, only six functional sites are listed under “Housing Resources.” Personally, I’ve found better resources on other college websites.

Even of the sites listed, hardly any are helpful. Instead of listing Craigslist, which is notorious for scams — especially for students who don’t have the time or the financial resources to visit each listing themselves — why not update it to Airbnb? Housingnyc.com doesn’t even provide listings, and a glance at Educational Housing Services’ Yelp page reveals arguably problematic reviews of “They are running a scam” and “Run as fast as you can from this company and its properties”.

If the CPD doesn’t have the manpower to update housing resources, why not aggregate data from students? Just as the CPD collects data on past internships, they should collect data on housing so that future Dartmouth interns can benefit from historical insights. Students should be encouraged to pursue internships based on value, not pay or housing situations.

If Dartmouth wants to distinguish itself to prospective students, the College needs to improve career services. A 20-year ROI is not an end-all guarentee of a student’s job path, and whether they chose to go into a high-paying job field or not, students should be supported in their journeys towards a “lifetime of learning and responsible leadership.”