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Students size up 'U' career center services

BY MICHAEL KAN
Daily Staff Reporter
Published March 4, 2004

For some students, a visit to the Career Center marks the first
step of the job search process.

Beth Dykstra
Career Center librarian Leigh Formicola gives LSA freshman Rick Bastien advice on summer internships. (TREVOR CAMPBELL/Daily)

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Yet some students have left the center frustrated that their
services aren’t helping them find employment and question
whether the University has been investing enough energy in
assisting students with their job searches. Moreover, some students
have noticed what they say is a one-sided slant in career programs
at the University, with the greatest chance of hiring occurring
more in the Business School’s career programs than the main
University Career Center.

LSA junior Mark Corban wanted to get a head start on his job
search by picking up an internship this summer. Corban said the
Career Center helped him polish his resumé and interviewing
skills in order to help him on his search. But he still
hasn’t found an internship yet and says the University
isn’t going far enough to help LSA students.

Although he recognizes that no one can do his job-searching for
him, Corban said he was hoping the Career Center could find him an
internship as easily as business students attain theirs.

“Overall, I think this school in general (could do
more),” he said. “I know for instance in the Business
School there are kids who get internships. In LSA, it’s
basically all up to you to get an internship.”

But career advisors from both the Business School and the Career
Center say students under pressure to find employment need to know
that none of the programs is meant to guarantee jobs for students,
but instead to give them the skills needed to successfully carry
out their job search. Furthermore, career advisors say all the
career programs use similar resources, and none of the programs has
an advantage over the other.

Corban also said that the Business School have its own career
development program. He added he feels that those programs seem
more effective at getting jobs for students than the
University’s Career Center.

These frustrations with the Career Center come at a time when
the tough job market makes it increasingly difficult to find a
career position. With job growth lagging and competition for jobs
as fierce as ever, LSA students say that the Career Center has only
offered limited assistance and suspect the Business School
effortlessly connects its students with jobs.

Lynne Sebille-White, assistant director of recruitment services
at the University Career Center, said besides career counseling the
center is primarily meant to assist students by educating them in
marketing themselves to employers.

Al Cotrone, director of the Business School’s Career
Development, says that none of the career programs at the
University do “placement” or assign students to
positions at a company. “We don’t have 500 different
internships and say, ‘This Econ major is going to work at
this firm this summer?’ ”

Instead of placement, both career advisors said the University
not only instructs students in the skills necessary to find a job,
but also tried to connect students with employers interested in
hiring University students through job fairs, on-campus interviews
and online job postings.

Sebille-White said that both career programs use these resources
and methods to make these connections and have similar contacts
with employers, so neither program has an edge.

Cotrone said the Business School handles students in the same
way. He added it’s a complete misconception that the Business
School secures future job positions for its students.

“Career services offices very rarely will be involved in
placing or matching students and companies. Accordingly, I
don’t think I would portray what we do here as finding jobs
for students or giving out jobs to students. Rather, we actively
prepare students to capitalize on the resources available as they
conduct their job searches, just the same as the Career
Center.”

Sebille-White said although the University career programs have
many resources, getting a job requires student participation. She
added that students can’t expect a quick and easy way to find
a job. For most students, the job search will take six to nine
months, Sebille-White said.

Misconceptions about the Business School’s career
development programs may arise partially because Business School
students begin their job search earlier than LSA students, Cotrone
said. “The timing of the process has moved earlier in the
cycle here at the Business School, so that the on-campus portion of
the search is largely completed by December of a student’s
senior year. To (LSA) students, where the process may take place a
bit later, this can also appear easier,” he said.

The Business School tends to have a close connection to its
students, which could create an image that Business School students
are getting more opportunities, added Cotrone.

Business School senior Ben Bershad agreed with Cotrone and said
the idea that Business School students get jobs without any work is
presumptuous. “It’s very difficult and competitive to
get a job. There are a lot of qualities companies look for, and you
are going to have to study hard,” he said.

Bershad added, “If everyone in the B-school relied on the
recruiters, not everyone would get a job. There’s a lot of
people who have family businesses or connections and so go work for
them.”

Unlike some other job-searching seniors, Bershad attained a job
back in November, after a month and a half of searching. He said a
bias toward hiring Business School students does exist, but not
because of the different career programs.

“To some degree (the Business School is) a trade school.
In LSA you can’t find a lot of jobs with just a political
science or psychology major. You need more requirements. In the
(business world) money changes hands and the B-school prepares us
to kind of negotiate that exchange of money. It prepares you for
those specifåic job functions,” he said.

Still, Bershad added that some of his classmates did not find
jobs as fast as he did and have also struggled to find jobs just
like many other seniors.

Contrary to Bershad’s view, other Business School students
said they feel a bias exists within the institutions themselves.
Business School senior Andreas Penna, who also acquired his job in
a month and a half, said he felt students in LSA were at a
disadvantage in terms of job-searching skills when compared to
Business School students. “All my friends in LSA don’t
know what the hell is going on with job searching.”

“And you know, it’s because I think in the Business
School they force it, they teach it to you. But I think if you are
in LSA, you really have to take initiative,” Penna said. He
added that LSA students will probably have to seek out counselors
in the Career Center in order to learn those skills.

Even though a bias may exist, students should not avoid the
Career Center. Tom Halasz, a former Career Center advisor now
working at Dartmouth College, urged students to use the
center’s services. “Students have bought in to the
media’s belief that they can’t have jobs. That’s
something career centers have to deal with, but students can get
jobs. The students we don’t find successful are the ones that
don’t use the career centers,” he said.

LSA senior Ruben Duran said the Career Center has been valuable
to his job search, as it has recently helped get him an interview
and also reviewed his resumes. Duran added that the Career Center
has done its best to assist his job search and has helped him
locate potential job offers he would have never been aware of.

He added that any disappointment with the Career Center would be
unfounded because the center has to serve a large population of
students, all studying different majors. “(The Career Center)
has a much more weightier task than the Business School or any
other school, because they have students that potentially have no
marketable skills.”

Other students who have used the center for its resources have
found some of the resources to be limiting. Kinesiology senior
Philip Hoffer, who is still searching for a job, said,
“I’m a sports management major and therefore I’m
looking for jobs in sport business-related jobs, and the Career
Center just doesn’t have a lot of resources for jobs in the
sport business industry.” But even with these difficulties,
Hoffer said the Career Center has provided him with websites and
job source books to assist his job search.