Landing the Job Students Tap College Career Services to Help with Job Search

By Born, Molly | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA), February 16, 2012 | Go to article overview

Landing the Job Students Tap College Career Services to Help with Job Search


Born, Molly, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)


Many of the roughly 20 million students enrolled in postsecondary education hope a degree or certificate will advance them to the next step.

However, when applying to a school, many may have little idea how students fared after graduation and what role the institution played in their success.

What they do know is that times are tough. An unsteady job market means a school's career help is more important than ever.

Before even enrolling, Edwin Koch, director of strategic and foundation research for the National Association of Colleges and Employers, recommends checking school job placement data.

Many schools publish statistics that reveal how many graduates are employed, in graduate school, in the military, still looking for work, volunteering or not seeking a job.

The best career services centers reach out early and often while students are in school.

Some institutions provide lifelong networking resources and a job database to alumni.

"I would say that if they work really hard to look for a job and follow our suggestions and use our resources, then there is a really great chance they'll find a job," said Lisa Dickter, associate director of the Career and Professional Development Center at Carnegie Mellon University.

Few schools gather data the same way, which can make it tough to compare stats.

Some schools survey graduates at three months, others at six months and some after a year. Some consider an internship employment; others classify it as a temporary gig in another category entirely. Some aren't clear that "employed" graduates, while full-time, may not always be working in a field related to what they studied. Some receive more responses from alumni than others.

NACE will meet with some schools this year to discuss creating uniform standards to collect outcome statistics.

Carnegie Mellon University collects data from grads about three months after graduation, said Ms. Dickter.

Of the 1,265 undergraduate CMU alumni surveyed last year, 96 percent responded.

The results showed 47 percent marked employed, 30 percent indicated they planned to go to graduate school, 12 percent were still looking for work, 6 percent marked other -- which can include military or volunteer service -- and 4 percent did not respond.

"There is some gray," Ms. Dickter said of measuring gainful employment. "As much as possible, we put 'employed' when they're employed very close to their field."

She counts a graduate working in an unrelated field but still looking for a better job as "seeking" but one with an internship likely to turn into a job as "employed."

Robert Morris University career counselors mail a survey to each alumnus one year after graduation and follow up by phone, said Kishma DeCastro-Sallis, director of the PPG Industries Career and Leadership Development Center.

Two years ago, they also began gathering job data on graduates' LinkedIn pages, a social networking website for professionals. …

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