Whenever I meet with a family to discuss potential colleges their son or daughter will apply to, the same subject always comes up. “Will my child be able to get a job if they attend that college?” While there is no doubt that there is power behind the alumni networks of top schools, the challenges presented in today’s job market go way beyond where you attended school.
Connecting with the career development office can answer a lot questions about what a student can expect about job and internship placement at a certain college or university. You may be surprised to find out about specialized internship programs or the strength of the alumni network of a small college. You may also find out about specialized programs the career office is developing in order to attract more employers to campus.
A good career education program should be able to help students identify and promote their strongest assets. An article in the New York Times describes just how important it is for recent college graduates to market themselves. The article states that while the most popular majors among employers are accounting, engineering, computing and mathematics; there are still ways for those philosophers and English majors to market themselves. So while there are thousands of English majors out there looking for jobs, the ones that will be the most successful will be able to show off their writing skills.
Another interesting article from the Boston Globe describes the strong alumni network of a small college, Emerson. While this school may not have the “big name” reputation, the alumni in the entertainment industry are seeking out “some of their own” by placing Emerson students in internships and providing opportunities for their “big break” after graduation. One Emerson alumnus described it as helping each other “like a family”. The Emerson network has become so powerful that it has even been called the “Emerson mafia”. A strong career development office will be able to teach students how to use an alumni network in their job or internship search.
Lansing Community College in Michigan is seeking a somewhat drastic measure to ensure job placement. According to an article that ran in Time Magazine last month, the community college is offering a money-back guarantee for the graduates of some of their 6-week certificate programs if they do not obtain a job within a year. The article states that this new policy is attracting more employers to campus. Career development centers are not only responsible for teaching students how to market themselves, but they must also know how to market the college in general to employers.
Finally, there is always the importance of networking. An article on MSNBC talked about how parents can help with a job or internship search by providing professional contacts for their children. The article cautions parents to use their judgment when bringing your child into your professional world. It also talks about how a parent can go overbroad by trying to help a child negotiate a salary package or even submitting applications for their children. A good career development center will provide students with the skills necessary for managing the job application process. They should even cover negotiating skills so students feel comfortable advocating for themselves when it is time to talk salary and vacation time.
So if you are in the process of creating a college list, it is a good idea to ask questions about job placement at the schools you are interested in. Call the career center directly since you are more likely to get accurate answers. Here are some questions to consider:
– What is your job placement rate for recent graduates?
– How many graduates attend graduate school?
– Who is your top employer?
– Can you give me some examples of jobs students are obtaining from specific majors?
– What types of career development workshops and support do you provide?
– What type of specialized internship programs do you have?
– How many employers to you have posting jobs? What are you doing to attract new employers to campus?
– Do you hold job fairs on campus? If so, how many employers attended your job fair last year?
Remember it may not be just the name of the college or power of their alumni network that gets you a job after graduation. Schools with comprehensive career education programs are going to teach how to look for a job and how to market yourself. These are skills that you will use to obtain that first job out of college and beyond.