The College of William and Mary’s new Cohen Career Center doesn’t open until fall 2010, but some alumni are taking advantage of their career center now.
College alumni, jobless or in transition, have been returning in increasing numbers to their alma mater, seeking career advice, and the College has answered their calls.
“There absolutely are more alums using our services and it’s a trend across the country,” Career Center Director Mary Shilling said. “So many people are in transition or have lost their positions in this tough job market, and who do they think of first — their alma mater.”
The Career Center has partnered with the William and Mary Alumni Association to provide a variety of services to graduates including special personalized consulting and networking events around the country.
Shilling estimates several hundred alums have used the center in the last year and she predicts the number will only go up from now on.
One networking event, hosted by a JP Morgan Chase managing director and co-sponsored by the Career Center, the Alumni Association and the Mason School of Business, was held in New York City over the summer and drew more than 70 students and alumni in the financial field.
D.R. Hildebrand ’03 found himself in a similar situation as a writer looking for advice and support for the publication of his novel.
The most valuable resource the College offered Hildebrand, along with other graduates, was networking opportunities. School ties are proving stronger than ever amidst various other resources among impersonal job fairs, internet resources and newspaper postings.
“The Career Center has a far more extensive network available to alumni than I realized,” Hildebrand said.
“They are equally as prepared, and willing, to assist graduates as they are to assist the College’s current students.”
The struggle to find a job, faced by many College graduates, is not uncommon.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the country’s unemployment rate has reached 9.7 percent, the highest in 26 years.
“Some people come to us and say ‘I’ve worked so hard, I got the right grades, I got the internship, I made use of my leadership opportunities, so I would have thought I would have a job by now,’” Shilling said. “And in a normal market they would, but this is not a normal market.”
Despite an economic downturn that has called for tremendous budget cuts, helping alumni find jobs could prove to be a great fundraising boost for the College.
The administration believes that the more help these alumni receive, the more they will want to give back.
“The research shows that those alums who have been helped by the College, even as an alum, are more likely to give back to the College, whether it be serving on a panel or program, offering an internship or [a] job or making a contribution to the alumni fund,” Shilling said.
Once construction is finished, the Cohen Career Center will be instrumental in providing support to both undergraduates and graduates in addition to unemployed alumni.
The center, made possible through a $6 million donation from Sherman Cohen ’38, could double the amount of traffic the services receive. Shilling has hope for the future of the College’s alumni.
“They’re just caught right now,” Shilling said. “And they’ll come out of it and life will go on.”