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Tech-savvy career center advisors are serving both students and employers.
Technology and social media have changed the landscape of college career services.
When many corporate recruiters were students, the "placement" office was in charge of holding career fairs, scheduling formal information sessions by company representatives and setting up interviews.
These days, college career center staff members tweet job postings, teach students to interview via Skype, pick exactly the right candidates for recruiters and train students in how to create their brands on social media.
"The world has changed, and if you’re not changing with it, you’re doing the students a disservice," says Trudy Steinfeld, assistant vice president and executive director of New York University’s Wasserman Center for Career Development.
Take the case of one student who landed a dream internship with a professional sports league. After workshops and counseling, he took a career center advisor’s advice and started following league officials and making insightful comments on social media. He connected with an official who ended up hiring him.
Or take the communications major who worked on her LinkedIn profile with some coaching from Kevin Grubb, assistant director of the Villanova University Career Center. While a career center counselor from an earlier era might have simply helped the student craft a resume, Grubb advised her to find out what the companies she was interested in were posting on Twitter, Facebook and their websites. He also suggested that she study the words they were using and plug them into her online profile to attract recruiters conducting keyword searches. One recruiter subsequently asked her to interview.
One reason college career centers must offer broader menus: Student bodies are less homogeneous now, with more minorities and more international and part-time students, says Dan Black, director of campus recruiting at Ernst & Young LLP.
A student who has a job, for instance, might not be able to get to a resume-writing session, but he or she can listen to a podcast on the topic, watch a video of a mock interview or glean tips on dressing for business from a college career center’s website.
"Career services is not just a place anymore; it’s a [virtual] space," agrees Manny Contomanolis, associate vice president and director of career services at the Rochester Institute of Technology.
Steinfeld says Skype and other online services account for about 5 percent of interviews now, but the number is increasing. As a result, her staff members offer students space for conducting online interviews and workshops on how to do well in Skype interviews.
"The best career services centers have shifted from being a moderator or go-between [for] students and companies and into career development preparation around their students," explains Adam Ward, university recruiting manager at Facebook.
Innovative In-Person Connections
Technology drives much of the creativity in the evolving relationships between recruiters and college career centers; yet career center advisors have also come up with new ways for recruiters and students to interact in person. Where career fairs and interview schedules once ruled, innovations such as case-study competitions, recruiter-in-residence programs and field trips now connect hiring managers and potential employees.
Manny Contomanolis, associate vice president and director of career services at the Rochester Institute of Technology, says the school’s problem-solving competitions (known as "hackathons") are a hit. His university hosts eight to 10 a year, with recruiters offering prizes to students for participating in the live on-campus events. Companies’ employees often run the competitions. The Rochester Institute of Technology has hosted competitions by American Greetings, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Toyota.
Jamie Belinne, SPHR, assistant dean at the University of Houston Bauer College of Business, says students like talking about their competition experiences in subsequent interviews they have with prospective employers. Employers like the visibility they get and the chance to identify talent. Oilfield services company Halliburton, for one, has built a following on campus through the competitions, she says. Her campus charges companies $5,000 for each competition, which draws as many as 200 students.
Competitions help "with branding and creating buzz," adds Karen Fox of financial services company Vanguard.
At New York University, about 150 employers come each semester for a recruiter-in-residence program. Companies’ employees conduct 20-minute counseling sessions with students. They don’t interview the students for jobs but do make personal connections as they offer advice.
Ernst & Young LLP hosts informal activities, such as "office hours" and scavenger hunts, on 200 campuses.
"If the student can feel at home and comfortable, you are going to have a better chance to understand the real person," says Dan Black, director of campus recruiting.
In addition, career center advisors are arranging off-campus student field trips to companies such as Facebook. For visits to some employers’ workplaces, recruiters line up speakers who include recent graduates from those campuses.
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