With the first semester drawing to a close, Macalester students are busy preparing for finals and longing for winter break. For many seniors, though, this is a time of anxiety as they explore post-graduation options.
Many seniors choose to consult the Career Development Center (CDC) on campus for career exploration and job searching. However, the center offers several other services including advice for individual search strategies, interviewing and networking skills and assistance with graduate school applications.
And as the economy stays in a slump, it seems that more Macalester students are seeking help through these resources.
“Our total appointments show that more students in general, and more seniors had appointments thus far in the semester than in years past,” said CDC Senior Career Specialist Kate Larson. “Several factors could contribute to the growth in appointments including increased attention by students to career planning/exploration, greater visibility of services and, of course, the larger class size for seniors and juniors this year.”
Attendance at the two drop-in dinners, where seniors could meet with counselors, more than doubled last fall’s numbers. The CDC encourages seniors and students in general to visit early and often throughout their academic careers.
Recent Macalester graduates can also use CDC services.
“Services don’t end when you graduate,” Larson said. “Recent alumni will often utilize the CDC for assistance in job searching, networking and also for graduate school applications.”
Students can seek out individual help from the CDC to make a personal plan of action.
“Each appointment is dependent on the student’s individual needs and the nature of their situation,” Larson said. “If their goals are incredibly clear and specific, we can help them work on individual tactics. If they are still working on narrowing down potential options upon graduation, we assist in that process too.”
This year the CDC will also hold a social media contest over winter break called “EDresscue Me!” for the second time. For the contest, Macalester students weigh in on professional etiquette scenarios with the chance to win a $250 gift card to purchase proper interview apparel.
“Obviously this economy has made things tougher—statistics from NACE and other sources document that fewer employers are actively hiring new graduates,” Larson said. “But the general pattern indicates students who start early in their search, stay focused, work with the Mac CDC on a regular basis, do internships, network, etc. are successful.”
Macalester students are typically employed at graduation at 10-20 percent higher than the national average, similar to other schools with similar profiles. And over 80 percent of the graduating class has usually used CDC resources in some way.
“Up to this point, this year is looking moderately healthy for students in terms of employment—it will be challenging but there are jobs out there,” Larson said. “Unknowns such as the ‘fiscal cliff’ could change the outlook.”
Natalie Camplair ’13 used the CDC and Macalester’s Economics Department as resources for her job search starting in early September.
“I kept my options open and talked to my advisor, Sarah West, and other economics professors about connections they had to think tanks, companies, government agencies and non-profits,” Camplair said. “I also went in and talked to CDC staff about other ways to look for jobs through alumni networks and online.”
Since her search began Camplair has been able to secure a position with Analysis Group at their Denver office. Analysis Group is an economic consulting firm with a recruiting relationship with Macalester.
“I had heard about Analysis Group because both the CDC and the Economics Department promote their recruiting events and deadlines,” Camplair said.
Camplair says her attitude about job hunting has changed through her experiences.
“I remember being stressed out, partially because I was worried about not finding a job at all due to the economy, and partially because I was afraid that I couldn’t find a job doing what I wanted in this economy,” she said. “Since then, my mentality has changed a lot. Even before I got the offer, simply being engaged in the job search process, talking to alums who were working, and getting interviews made me realize that people were in fact hiring college graduates and that all hope was not lost. I think I was more worried than I should have been.”
Senior political science major Michael Costigan-Humes has also been able to secure a job, although he did not consult CDC resources.
“I’ll be working as a Business Analyst on a corporate strategy team at eBay,” Costigan-Humes wrote in an email. “I was worried about getting a good internship, but once I had that I wasn’t too worried. Got the offer in the summer.”
For students currently job hunting, Larson recommends to not keep the search a secret.
“We know that students generally seek out input from family, friends, faculty, mentors, supervisors and CDC counselors in their career exploration,” she said. “Consult with these sources for job search advice too.”