The ongoing recession challenged the College of William and Mary leadership Thursday, as the Board of Visitors Committee on Student Affairs hosted presentations from student representatives and Sherman and Gloria H. Cohen Career Center officials focused on efforts to funnel alumni into jobs.
The presentation, a comprehensive report on the center’s programs and connections between students and top-tier employers, was the meeting highlight.
“Since I last talked with you four years ago, two things have happened,” Mary Schilling, Career Center director, said. “One is we’ve had the worst recession since the Great Depression, and the other is we’ve opened a new Career Center. And those things are juxtaposed in our students’ lives. It’s important to know that these are hard times with the job market being what it is.”
Associate Director of the Career Center David Lapinski stressed the positive impact the center has on students. He said personal contact at the center rose 54 percent, total job and internship applications through the center increased 88 percent and student use of the recruiting network went up 28 percent over the last two academic years.
In addition to the usual career fairs, Career Center officials said there are plans for a series of symposia featuring employers from such varied fields as business, publishing, non-profit, government, technology and healthcare delivery.
Board members raised concerns to career center officials about helping alumni find employment.
“How do we coordinate among all the interest groups within our community to find jobs?” BOV member Michael Tang said. “There’s the Alumni Association, there’s the Career Center, there’s Student Affairs, there’s the BOV …we need kind of a wealthy problem-coordinated attack on how to do better.”
The officials responded that talks between such groups are ongoing and that efforts to collaborate with the Alumni Association will be addressed.
Lapinski also talked about a recent data analytics initiative to identify possible improvements the Career Center could make in helping students prepare for the workforce. One of the key findings was that, despite the diversity of majors College students pursue, graduates mainly entered only a handful of fields: education, government, non-profit, healthcare and banking.
“Essentially, it shows that even when you go into some of these other majors, it’s the diversity of the William and Mary education across the arts and sciences, that liberal arts background, that these companies are still coming for all different majors,” Lapinski said. “It doesn’t matter what your major is, you can pretty much go and do anything.”