Getting a Job Just Got Easier
Career center’s new name reflects expanded mission
Having just earned a master’s degree in molecular biology, Laura Owens suddenly found herself questioning her career choice. Uncertain about the best job for her skills, she turned—“out of desperation,” she says—to BU’s Career Services office.
“The help I received was outstanding,” recalls Owens (GRS’10). The center’s six months of “really specialized assistance” produced career options she doubts she could have come up with herself. She now plans to study to be a dietitian.
Yet many students, she says, are “only vaguely aware” of BU’s career-planning help. That is in the process of changing. As luck would have it, President Robert A. Brown approved an expansion of Career Services just before the Great Recession hit. Today the office is officially being renamed the Center for Career Development, reflecting the expansion of the services being provided. The newly renamed center will offer more employer contacts, more job-hunting and networking help for students, and a centralized online bank of employment and internship opportunities.
Brown says the new name mirrors “the University’s expanding commitment to the role of the center in the advising and career placement of our students. These functions are essential to their success, both at Boston University and early in their careers.”
Scheduled to relocate to the new East Campus Student Center when it is finished next year, the center (formerly Career Services) had 10 staffers when director Kimberly DelGizzo arrived at BU a year and a half ago; now there are 12, a number she hopes to grow by two or three this fiscal year, and ultimately to perhaps 20.
With more staff, “we’re doing more of what we’ve been doing, but we’re hoping to make it more visible and accessible,” DelGizzo says. Owens’ observation about students underusing services is spot-on: “We had employers posting internships and jobs and saying to us, ‘We’re not receiving enough résumés,’” according to DelGizzo.
That’s starting to change. Early in DelGizzo’s tenure, students who wanted to talk to a counselor got in quickly. But last semester, the wait time for an appointment was several weeks, she says. The higher demand, while good, necessitates more staff to move traffic faster. “Currently, we have five people doing career counseling for 32,000 students,” she says.
Among the new changes in service to students:
Online job postings. The center, which serves students University-wide as well as alumni, has partnered with career offices in several schools—the College of Communication, the College of Engineering, the School of Management, and the School of Hospitality Administration—in a new online system to manage employers’ job and internship postings, giving employers the option of tapping all BU students or targeting specific schools
Expanded Career Expo. The center is working to increase the number of employers who show up at this twice-a-year event. Eleanor Cartelli, the center’s associate director of marketing and communications, says 700 students mingled with more than 80 recruiters at the fall expo; the goal is to get up to 100 recruiters to participate in this semester’s expo, on February 16. “We’re really working hard to get a lot more students in the door” this time, she says.
Nuts-and-bolts help with job-hunting. The center encourages students to bring their résumés in for staff to review for proper formatting and comprehensiveness. It also stands ready to offer advice on such essentials as giving a good job interview. “Looking for jobs online is critically important,” says DelGizzo, “but students have to get out from behind their computer and be talking to people” as well.
She also wants to change the mindset that career services are only for seniors in the spring before they graduate. It’s never too early to think about a career, she says; for example, snaring an internship during college could lead to a job after, since “oftentimes employers look at their internship pool” for possible hires. Her counselors can also brainstorm about other pursuits, from undergraduate research to community service to leadership in a student organization to study abroad, that can enhance a student as a prospective hire later on, she says.
More pitches to employers. The center has just added a new position for a staff member to serve as a liaison with employers. It did a first-of-its-kind survey of all but the freshman class last fall, asking students how they had spent the summer. Knowing students’ interests and experience, DelGizzo says, will guide the center’s pitches to lure employers.
The center’s expansion comes as unemployment among college graduates hit a 40-year high of 5.1 percent in November. (A college degree remains a sound investment, as joblessness among those with just a high school diploma was almost twice that rate, and was more than three times as high among high school dropouts.)
Some individual BU colleges currently track how many of their graduates score jobs after Commencement, but the center has never tracked the graduating class as a whole, DelGizzo says.
Starting with this May’s graduates, that too will change.
Rich Barlow can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Comments