Due to the uncertain job market, freshmen are starting the job hunt earlier than ever before.
College career centers are commonly thought of as the realm of upperclassmen – places where juniors and seniors go to polish their résumés, find internships and hopefully land a job after graduation. That trend might be changing.
Recent statistics show students have been visiting campus career centers, Temple’s included, as early as freshman year to get a head start on their job hunts.
The National Association for Colleges and Employers keeps records on college career center use and student employment post-graduation. According to its 2010 Student Survey, the percentage of students who describe their career center experience as “helpful” increased, along with the amount of students who use the center.
For those who visited more than once a semester, 72 percent said they thought it was worthwhile. For those who only went once or not at all, the number was 40 percent.
Although the survey didn’t specify which year students started seeking services, it does draw a clear line between increased use and higher satisfaction.
Temple’s Career Center, on the second floor of Mitten Hall, saw a 22 percent increase in freshman visits in the last year alone. Before classes even began, an event for freshmen and transfers was expected to draw 50 students but got 300 instead.
Despite the center’s increase in visitors, many students are still left unaware of the uses and benefits one can reap from the Career Center.
“I don’t even know where the Career Center is,” said Paul Dowds, a freshman kinesiology major. “Yeah, [I think about jobs], but I’ve got time.”
When freshmen like Dowds are so far away from graduation and from requiring a full-time job, career counseling may seem pointless. But Career Center Director Rachel Brown said most freshmen come looking for extra work to earn spending money, which can serve as a starting point to a career.
“The main issue with freshmen is, ‘How do I get a part-time job?’” Brown said. “We want to help [freshmen] find jobs, hopefully something leading to what [they] want to do.”
By getting acquainted with the Career Center early on, freshmen can get placed into jobs within their academic department and get a glimpse of what opportunities are available after graduation.
Starting early, Brown said, gives students a chance to see what their field is like and to build their résumé for when they go out actually searching for a job.
But some students like Maris Chambers, a freshman advertising major, do not have the time to make an appointment.
“I just want to focus on my studies right now,” she said. “I’d be interested in it. Maybe in a couple years, though.”
The center hosts a workshop called Major Dreams, which is a monthly event to help freshmen find the major that’s right for them. Many of the Career Center’s freshman-oriented resources are geared toward finding a major that matches students’ career goals.
In addition to Major Dreams, the Career Center has already held a part-time job fair and an open house during this year’s freshman welcome week.
The increase in freshman-oriented programs and outreach attempts from the Career Center offer some explanation, but what’s actually getting freshmen out of their dorms and out searching for jobs is the economy, Brown said.
While she admits that college is about more than finding a job, Brown said the economy has changed students’ expectations of what they need to do to find employment after graduation.
“This class of freshmen seems very open to opportunity,” Brown said. “It’s the silver lining to the difficult job market.”
Zack Shapiro can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.