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College Career Services and Their Role in Boosting Post-graduation Employment

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One element of a college education that many students may not initially consider is that of career preparation. Academic coursework and professor interactions provide students with an analytical framework to solve problems and subject matter knowledge. The role of career services, however, is to help translate that knowledge into the next step after college – namely, employment or graduate school.

The results speak for themselves: utilizing university-affiliated resources is the most effective way to obtain a job.

An analysis of over 68,000 undergraduate responses at 16 American public and private institutions revealed that 56% of students reported a school-related resource or opportunity as the primary factor in obtaining employment after graduation.

How do career service offices generally assist students and alumni in the job hunt?

Career services staff members at a university often coordinate a number of services for students and alumni. The Office of Career Services at Harvey Mudd College, for example, aims to assist students “from choosing a major to exploring different career options to finding an internship to looking for employment to preparing for graduate school.”

Our study indicated some of the most popular channels that a school or career services office might use to help connect students with employers include:

  • On-campus recruiting events – 20%
  • Career fairs – 11%
  • Networking with faculty, alumni or department advisors – 9%
  • School job boards – 6%

Analysis also revealed general areas that some institutions could improve upon.

  • Overall, school job postings, referenced by 6% of students, do not appear to be any more effective than external job listings, which were reported as a primary resource by 10% of respondents.
  • In particular, public schools tend to underperform when it comes to school job postings (just 3% of students found them helpful).
  • Ivy League universities seem unsuccessful with career/employment fairs (utilized by just 6% of respondents)

Which schools’ career services go above and beyond?

A sample of the more impressive stats includes top-performing universities, both in the classroom and in terms of employment after graduation. Career services centers at these institutions rise to the challenge of successfully placing their students. 

New York University – Wasserman Center for Career Development

83% of 2011 respondents to NYU’s annual survey of recent baccalaureate graduates reported using the resources offered by Wasserman Center in the job search. These students earned, on average, over $10,000 more than those who didn’t use Wasserman’s services! Students can keep up with news and events through Wasserman’s blog and other major social media outlets.

Boston College – Career Center

41.7%of newly employed 2011 Connell School of Nursing undergraduates indicated that they found their position through their school’s career fair.

Princeton University – Career Services

68% of the employed class of 2011 referenced TigerTracks, Princeton’s online system for job postings and on-campus recruiting, when asked how they found their job.

University of California Berkeley – Career Center

Between 2009 and 2011, 54% of responding Haas School of Business students stated that they had found employment through on-campus recruiting.

University of Pennsylvania – Career Services

72.7% of full-time employed student respondents from UPenn’s School of Engineering and Applied Science received their job offers through on-campus recruiting and career services.

Vanderbilt University – Center for Student Professional Development

44% of the class of 2011 finding employment cited the Vanderbilt Career Center as a major source.

Case Western Reserve University – Career Center

Among CWRU Career Center’s many services available is a “Four-Phase Plan” to accompany a student’s progression through college. From the initial stages of developing a resume to on-campus interviews with top employers and assistance with graduate school applications, this structured plan is definitely achieving results. In 2011, for example, 41% of graduates reported pursuing an advanced degree – heading to prestigious schools such as Brown University, Columbia University, Stanford University and more.

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute – Center for Career and Professional Development

Rensselaer’s partnerships with many top employers have resulted in an abundance of opportunities for their students. Throughout the 2010-2011 academic year, over 130 employers visited campus for interviews. These employers conducted over 2,500 total interviews.

University of Dayton – Career Services

Career Services’ Flyer First Destination Survey reported success rates of over 90% in 2011, meaning less than 10% of their graduates were still seeking employment or unsure of their future plans after graduation. Their easy-to-navigate website and social media presence provide students with ample opportunities to take advantage of their university’s career services.

Harvey Mudd College – Office of Career Services

Salaries aren’t everything in life, but they certainly help. Harvey Mudd reaches a top slot in NerdWallet’s list of schools with the highest starting salaries. The Office of Career Services doesn’t just host career events on campus – their “MUDD on the Road” program organizes visits to major companies in the area.

Do you have a story about your experience with career services at your own college? Share it in the comments below!