Alumni, Social Media and Internships Help Graduates Find Jobs

By DiMaria, Frank | The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education, April 9, 2012 | Go to article overview

Alumni, Social Media and Internships Help Graduates Find Jobs


DiMaria, Frank, The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education


There's an old saying: A rich man goes to college, and a poor man goes to work. Today both rich and poor have more opportunities than ever to pursue a higher education. But both the rich and the poor man must find jobs when they graduate. That poses these questions: are there jobs for today's college graduates and, if so, how do they find those jobs?

According to a report published by the Michigan State University Collegiate Employment Research Institute, Recruiting Trends 2010-11, the 2012 job market for college graduates is expected to strengthen slightly across all categories, such as company size, industry sector, region, major and type of degree. But even with this positive news, university career service professionals are not retaining the status quo.

Maggy Ralbovsky of Morrison and Tyson Communication, a public relations firm that works for several colleges and universities, reports that most schools are stepping up their efforts and employing aggressive tactics to help their students and graduates compete in America's workforce.

Alumni

Alumni are playing an increasingly important role in helping college graduates find jobs, as campus career service officials reach out to them for ideas, internships and career connections. At Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Va., Beverly Lorig, director of career services, says that additional staff are working to build relationships with alumni who work for companies searching for talent. And Denise Ward, associate dean for student services at Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minn., advises her students to use every available resource before they graduate. She urges them to use the campus career center, talk to faculty and connect with alumni. "It is much easier to use these sources while you are still a student," she says.

Macalester has recently updated its office of career services, placing a greater focus on alumni. The office is actively partnering with the Alumni Office. Staff from both meet weekly to create and present joint events; allocating a fund to support career events by academic departments - "mini-grants" - focusing support on events that utilize alumni; continuing increased focus on networking with alumni by allowing Macalester juniors and seniors access to the office's online alumni directory; offering Webinars that feature alumni from outside the area; and shifting employer development efforts to alumni instead of general employer outreach. Macalester has expanded the "Exploreship" program that matches sophomores with alumni in the Twin Cities, Washington and New York.

Lauren Martínez, an anthropology and economics major at Macalester, has found Macalester's alumni very helpful, putting graduates in touch with job contacts for general information interviews. "I have probably e-mailed over 50 alumni, and 90 percent of them have responded, even if it was just a note to say they weren't able to help me. They also all were willing to read through my cover letters and résumés and give me feedback," says Martínez.

Although the media have been reporting a lack of jobs for America's workforce, says Martínez, she finds a "totally different playing field for college graduates." Martínez landed a job interview as the result of connecting with a Macalester alum who recommended her after speaking to her by phone and reading over her résumé and cover letter.

At Colgate University in Hamilton, N. Y., Teresa Olsen, acting director of career services, reports that her office is working more closely than ever with alumni affairs and advancement to spread the word to alumni that in today's tough economic climate, engaging as career mentors with students is a very meaningful way to engage with the university, in addition to, or even instead of, financial support.

Colgate offers students unlimited access to its online alumni network so they may contact alumni directly. In addition, Colgate has expanded and formalized its alumni mock interviewing program to include alumni who are visiting the campus for other reasons. …

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