CPD employer fair offered few public policy, social sciences options

by Cassandra Thomas | 4/4/19 2:05am

On Tuesday, the Center for Professional Development hosted 55 companies, firms and organizations at its Employer Connections Fair in the Hopkins Center for the Performing Arts. The fair included representatives from the finance, consulting education and technology sectors; however, the fair offered comparatively few public policy or social science opportunities. This career imbalance in favor of finance, consulting, and technology jobs is reflected in the career paths of graduates. A survey conducted by the CPD of the outgoing class of 2018 found that 56 percent of graduates pursue careers in those sectors.

While the CPD has worked to address this imbalance through improved databases and alumni-student networks, many students with interests in the public sector still do not use the CPD’s resources — often relying on past connections, other campus centers or simply navigating the undergraduate job hunt alone. 

CPD director Roger Woolsey explained that the disparity between private company recruiting and the apparent lack of public sector opportunities is associated with the resources companies allocate towards recruiting. The cost of having representatives at the career fair varies depending on the type of organization, with non-profits contributing less money to appear at the fair. Furthermore, according to Woolsey, the CPD’s partner system offers different tiers for companies or organizations that pay more money in exchange for privileges and an increased presence on campus. A full booth costs $695, a half booth costs $350 and a half booth for a non-profit costs $125 — not to mention the cost of sending representatives to Hanover.  

“It’s not that we’re deliberately bringing banks and consulting companies and tech firms to Dartmouth,” Woolsey said. “They have a lot of opportunity, a lot of turnover, and they have a lot of capital ... They can afford to send groups of people to select schools around the country.”

The money accumulated from these partnerships and fees to attend the career fair are used to subsidize the non-compensation operating budget of the CPD, according to Woolsey. Woolsey said that he is cognizant of the student complaints regarding the CPD’s lack of opportunities for non-profit or public sector work. He cited the CPD’s “Off the Green” programming, which brings students to major cities to experience various career paths and meet alumni, the CPD’s policy resource guide and the CPD’s partnerships with other campus centers as evidence of an effort to address this concern. 

Woolsey also noted that many companies do not need to have a presence at Dartmouth since they receive thousands of applications by simply posting a job opening online. For these kinds of companies, Woolsey said that the CPD is trying to build more references and connections in the Dartmouth community to make these jobs accessible. 

For Jennifer West ’20, the CPD’s resources did not yield a successful experience. West said that she knew she wanted a political job in Washington D.C. after her freshman year and tried to engage with the CPD by signing up for their online resources, going to the CPD in person and attending information sessions. However, West said she was disappointed to find a lack of opportunities tailored to her interests.

“During sophomore summer, I was especially disappointed because there was only one public service recruiter brought to campus during the most intense recruiting season,” West said. “So, while a lot of my friends who were seeking consulting or finance jobs were having lots of information sessions and visits from representatives of those organizations on campus, I really didn’t have anyone to talk to about my own internship or post-graduate career goals.”

West said that she has since done most of her internship searches independently and has successfully found positions in entertainment and public service. 

While various centers across campus — including the Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and Social Sciences, the John Sloan Dickey Center for International Understanding and the Center for Social Impact — try to make different career opportunities more accessible, the CPD itself continues to attempt to broaden its outreach to students. CPD assistant director Chandlee Bryan said that the CPD has resources for students across industries and levels of interests. According to Bryan, one of the biggest factors that students should consider before a job search is hiring timeliness, which tends to start earlier in the private sector and have more variation in the public sector. Bryan expressed frustration that throughout her career she has confronted the “myth” that professional services are designed for students interested in finance and consulting.

“The myth that we struggle with all the time, and this has been consistent in every Ivy that I’ve worked in, is that career services are focused on finance and consulting,” Bryan said. “We do have a healthy number of financial and consulting employers participate in our campus recruiting — in part, that is because they do anticipate demand and plan out pretty early, and they have the resources to participate in the program.”

Rockefeller Center program officer Eric Janisch also described some of the inherent challenges in finding jobs in the public sector, like lower compensation and less brand appeal.

“[Public sector jobs] don’t have the recruiting resources that larger organizations have,” Janisch explained. “There are some large public organizations that do recruit people. It really depends on the people you know. Private firms are probably more willing to reach out to colleges whereas in the public sector you really have to know the person, so it’s [about] getting to know the alumni networks.”

Bryan also claimed that many students overlook the CPD’s resources before fully investigating what services are available to them. Bryan highlighted that, for example, many students have not completely set up their Dartboard accounts, which give them access to résumé guides, major-to-career guides that illustrate how alumni have used their degrees and internship or full-time positions listings by industry area. 

“We like to work with you as early as you want to work with us, but in general I think that we will meet you wherever you are,” Bryan said. “The more you put into it, the more information you give us, the more we can market to target to your interests.”

Rachel Mashal ’20 has been a beneficiary of the CPD’s resources and services. As a participant in corporate recruiting over her sophomore summer, Mashal worked closely with the CPD beginning in her sophomore spring term and throughout the recruiting process to find an internship in her area of interest. Eventually, she was selected as an intern for a law firm in New York. Mashal expressed appreciation that the CPD made a law internship accessible to her despite the fact that law firms are less likely to recruit on college campuses.

“From the beginning, I felt like the CPD was doing a great job,” Mashal said. “Before recruiting began I was able to look at all the employers, their locations, which terms they’re available, which fields they were in … The people at the CPD are really knowledgeable and there to answer any of your questions. They also really want to make sure that students are treated fairly and know what to expect from employers.”

Despite the strides made to widen job offerings, the issue of a job imbalance perpetuated by the CPD was incorporated into the final project for ENGS 12, “Design Thinking.” Wyatt Genasci Smith ’19, Ryan Murakawa ’22 and their group were challenged to design creative solutions to widen the scope of the CPD’s offerings. Genasci Smith mentioned that as a student going into an unconventional career, he thought it was important for Dartmouth students to look beyond what is considered traditional and focus on what makes them happy.

“We found that students who have interests in [finance and consulting] end up having an easier time navigating college and finding career opportunities, especially through the CPD,” Murakawa said. “We also found that the CPD is actually trying really hard to solve this problem on their own. It’s a mix of campus culture and the CPD having to cater to what most people want, which is increasing the problem.”

For their final project, Genasci Smith, Murakawa and the rest of their group presented ideas such as creating a physical space for the CPD in the library or alumni center so that students do not have to walk downtown, designing interactive screens to showcase alumni with unconventional careers and installing soundproof Skype rooms to talk to employers who don’t have the funds to come to campus.

Woolsey emphasized that the CPD itself is receptive to feedback, specifically in regards to addressing the concerns of students who think there is dearth of public sector opportunities.  

“I think the number one thing that students need to understand is that, if they feel pressure, they should come to meet with an advisor at the CPD,” Woolsey said. “Because if you’re looking for a particular internship in an industry that is not as visible, advisors have information about employers — they also can help students find the right resources to research and locate employers within the industry that they’re interested in.” 

Peter Charalambous contributed reporting.