Career Services builds new bridges
to jobs for students
by Jenny Gerow
Bridge on Rugby Road not only serves pedestrian and vehicular
traffic, it also doubles as U.Va.s biggest message board.
Here, its advertising Career Week 2002, which took place
Feb. 4-8. University Career Services has also planned a number
of other job-related events for students this semester. For
By Mary Beth Knight
the University Career
Services Office held one of its regular career fairs recently,
the staff decided to try another way of reaching students beyond
the usual promotional ads in the Cavalier Daily: they went to
the biggest message board at U.Va. and emblazoned the fairs
schedule in blue and orange paint on Beta Bridge.
fall there was a 40 percent increase over fall 2000 in student
appointments at Career Services, as well as in job workshop attendance.
are signs of the economic times. The days of employers dangling
bonus incentives before eager undergraduates have been ousted
by a narrowing marketplace that requires outside-the-box job-search
services and strategies.
McBride, director of University Career Services since 1998, worked
through recessions in the early 80s and early 90s
in similar posts at other schools. The current downturn, however,
poses extra challenges because it hit hard within 12 months, he
said, instead of following the usual pattern of a slower-paced,
three- or four-year decline. On Grounds interviews scheduled with
potential employers last fall dropped 20 percent a discouraging
percentage, but consistent with what other colleges and universities
are experiencing in the grips of a fast-acting national recession.
By launching creative initiatives to reach new recruiters, as
well as leveraging its existing panoply of student and employer
services, UCS is helping to soften the recessions blow and
forge other bridges to jobs and careers.
University recently participated for the first time in the Government
and Non-Profit Career Expo in Washington along with Georgetown
and Duke universities and the University of Richmond. Students
learned about full-time job opportunities and internships available
at a variety of agencies and organizations, from the CIA to National
are the kinds of collaborations that really make sense,
McBride said. If youre a non-profit agency in Washington
and you see Georgetown is having a non-profit career fair, thats
one thing. But if you see youre going to be able to shop
the cream of the crop from Virginia, Duke and Richmond, too, thats
a return on an investment.
by Matt Kelly
held an Arts & Sciences job fair and Internship
Career Days Feb. 4-6 in Newcomb Hall Ballroom that gave
U.Va. students an opportunity to meet with potential employers.
also makes sense to match the large number of U.Va. graduates
hoping to move to the D.C. area each year with government agencies
that have begun to court young job-seekers more aggressively.
statistics show that 53 percent of the workforce in government
agencies will become eligible for retirement in the next five
years. Leslie Williams, associate director of Employer Services
at UCS, attended the National Career Services Conference last
fall, where she heard the pitch firsthand from some of these agencies.
going head to head and competing with the private sector,
she said. The Internal Revenue Service is marketing itself
like a top accounting firm.
are adjusting their recruiting strategies to attract employees
who dont plan to work at the same place for an entire career
by highlighting opportunities for continuing education and the
development of transferable skills. Theyve also simplified
the notoriously lengthy government application process.
little farther north, in Philadelphia, the 54th annual conference
of the Society for Human Resource Management will convene in late
June. University Career Services will attend the event as a vendor,
marketing U.Va. students and UCS services one-on-one to attendees
from more than 1,000 leading companies. Its a unique approach
that UCS hopes will encourage employers to begin a relationship
with the University by sending listings of their job vacancies,
attending one of the Universitys six career fairs held each
year or participating in the on-Grounds interviewing program.
Services is also developing other strategies for adding new players
to the employer mix. For example, UCS Recruitment Manager Jennifer
Hoffman, who came on board in July, recently traveled to the metropolitan
New York area where she forged some promising employer relationships.
The next step will be for UCS to tailor a recruitment plan to
fit these companies needs. Hoffman met with representatives
from Federated Department Stores Inc. (which operates the Macys
and Bloomingdales chains), Christies International
auction house and fashion designer Oscar de la Renta, as well
as other companies offering positions that Arts & Sciences
students might be interested in, but lack access to via on-Grounds
organizations dont need to recruit at U.Va., since New York
is so dense with potential talent, she said. That doesnt
mean that students cant go to them, however. Christies
and several other companies UCS recently targeted have committed
to participate in Career Services 25-year-old externship
program, a effort that gives 700 to 1,000 U.Va. students a one-week
job-shadowing experience each year.
Career Services is equally committed to nurturing long-standing
relationships with employers who have been recruiting at U.Va.
for years, even ones that have been forced, at least temporarily,
to halt recruiting.
Our strategy is to be the last school they leave and when
things improve, the first school they return to, McBride
said. We absolutely understand its just business and
well welcome them back.
University Career Assistance Network, an alumni organization,
is another well-established and increasingly valuable tool for
job seekers. Approximately 25,000 alumni are signed up as volunteers,
willing to provide career advice and share their experience with
students and recent graduates.
schools will tell you if they have a network of 2,000, theyre
lucky, McBride said. In addition, the UCS library offers
students an extensive selection of print and electronic resources.
Students seem more savvy about job-hunting than they were 10 years
ago, thanks in large part to online information; theyre
coming to UCS focused on specific goals, McBride said. The University
Career Services staff appears equally savvy in building creative
and effective bridges to expand students career options
during these difficult times and for years to come.