Last week, staff columnist Aristotle Herbert published an article leveling a significant amount of criticism at the Sherman and Gloria H. Cohen Career Center. While he had a negative personal experience, he also suggested the Career Center is a useless, nonfunctioning department at the College of William and Mary. Leaving aside my own completely positive experiences with numerous Career Center advisers and events, let’s just look at the facts.
First, Herbert implied that the College made a conscious choice to use treasury funds to build a new Career Center. This is not the case. The building was funded by a gift of $6 million from friends of the College — not from tax dollars. Second, Herbert said the Career Center does not build “connections with major companies” or “refer undergraduate students to available opportunities.” This claim is odd, considering there are frequent occasions on which the Career Center does just that. From panels stocked with alumni talking about careers in Washington, D.C. to the highly acclaimed DoG Street to Wall Street event, some might argue that connecting College alumni in various fields to current students is the Career Center’s greatest strength. Vice president of the William and Mary Finance Academy, Daniel Barzach, described the fourth annual DoG Street to Wall Street event — which works to expand networking for students considering careers in finance — as one of the major achievements of the Career Center. Director of the College’s Washington, D.C. Office, Adam Anthony, additionally described the internship opportunities the Career Center creates.
Herbert also suggested the creation of an online career center. A look at the Career Center’s website makes me wonder what else could be offered that isn’t currently available. The site boasts links to a vast network of alumni who have offered to mentor current students and have posted internships and jobs on the College’s experience site, among many other resources. Finally, in the state of the current economy, nothing is more valuable to our students than the presence of a good team of advisers. It is unfortunate that Herbert had a bad experience meeting with an adviser at the Career Center. Surveys, however, indicate that his experience is not the norm.
With the new facility, the Career Center has a building to match the caliber of its staff. Moreover, the College is making a bold statement by clearly showing it is committed to its students’ futures, especially in this tough economy. From resume and cover letter workshops, to alumni panels and events, to meetings with career advisors, the Career Center certainly makes a difference on campus. Hopefully, Herbert’s next experience will be more like that of most students at the College: a positive one.