Career Services Seeks to Increase Visability

Bret Hortin came to the U in search of potential financial services reps.

And last Wednesday’s foray went pretty well. Hortin, a recruiter with Intermountain Financial Group, found the applicants well qualified. Others tend to “deselect” themselves, he said from a tiny office used for interviews in Career Services.

But some?qualified or not?may never have been in the running to start of with.

“I’m surprised at the number of students who don’t have a clue that Career Services is here,” Hortin said. He recruits around the state, and the U’s career fair is one of the smaller ones he attends.

“That always surprises me,” he said, noting that the recent addition of eRecruiting to Career Services offerings has improved the process “light years.”

eRecruiting joined a complement of services that includes face-to-face counseling, recruiter visits, internships with academic credit, job search workshops and a career library stocked with books and binders on majors and career fields, even self-assessment software.

Career Services estimates that, on average, 37 students stop by the library every day to use these resources.

“I feel it has improved over the last couple of years. Word is getting out,” said Susan Larsen, who manages the library. But she adds, “I think it could be used more.”

Increased visibility, and the student-use it promotes, seems to be a pervasive quest at Career Services.

Its administration plans to place a comprehensive survey on the Web site, both to gain input and to figure out how to attract more students.

“Unfortunately, we can only survey those who know about Career Services,” said Stan Inman, the director.

He is thrilled at the prospect of not just an article, but an entire section in The Chronicle on students and the job market, even if it means juggling the demands of at least four reporters and an editor to get students in the door.

Of course, not everyone needs the help Career Services offers. Through current employers, family or other connections, some U grads work things out on their own.

“The population I’m concerned with are those people flailing out there feeling adrift and abandoned,” said Julie Swaner, a career counselor. Those who do find the office on their own tend to be the more aggressive students, ones seeking all possible opportunities, she said.

Jeremy Peterson was looking for the last few credits to complete his degree in organizational communication when he signed up for a co operative education internship through Career Services. He works with bidding and labor management for a construction company, gaining experience to help him in future jobs.

“I like working with people, and I like being in a leadership position,” he said. “[The co-op] has been more valuable than I expected. It makes you think about what you’re doing and why.”

Soul searching within the walls of Career Services is not an experience limited to current students. In the library, Rick Curtis, who graduated in ’91, considered a career change while thumbing through a book titled, “Environmental Careers in the 21st Century.”

The U alumnus has worked with scenic art for film, TV and commercials since his graduation. Now he is looking for a challenge, and wondering if he could put his love of the outdoors to use.

“It’s either move up or move off in a different direction,” he said. “I don’t want to be doing what I’m doing now in five years.”

Sixty percent of undergraduates, those looking to start a first career, come into contact with Career Services, according to Inman.

This estimate includes all of his office’s outreach with academic programs, career fairs and the student employment office.

The latter’s Web site boasts about 250 to 300 visits every day and an average starting wage of $9.43 per hour, according to Calvin Stroud, student employment coordinator.

His program often serves as a gateway, he said. While searching for part-time work, students become aware of the more long-term services available.

And as an end appears to their safe haven of higher education, the trickle of student visitors picks up.

“We get a lot of walk-ins before graduation,” said Jason Milne, who works in administrative support for Career Services.

However, saving your job hunt to the last minute is not a strategy endorsed by Career Services.

“Part of out job is to educate them on realities and possibilities,” Swaner said. When a student arrives a week before graduation expecting to find full-time employment with a salary of $35,000 by May 15, “then we need to re educate them.”

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