I have worked at the Office of Career Services as a student assistant since August 2011 and have thoroughly enjoyed my time at the office.
However, I have very mixed feelings about the department’s shift to the Division of Enrollment and Communication, effective as of March 1. This division contains the Office of Admission, Student Financial Services and the Office of Marketing Communications; all three of these offices are located close to the president’s office in the Peggy Ryan Williams Center.
Traditional career services offices have come under attack recently for a perceived lack of follow-through with the students they help. Now, they are expected to provide a tangible employer to support for-credit internships and future employment. The newer focus among colleges is a placement office that can cater to students’ needs based on major, year and intended career path.
In my opinion, the traditional model of career services allows for a greater deal of career and personal exploration. If the college decides to change Career Services into more of a placement center, this will take away a great deal of the individual exploration that has given the office a students-first approach. The office offers career guidance and major exploration through personality assessments such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and the Strong Interest Inventory, which could be lost in the switch.
Career Services has always focused on tailoring its services to the needs of the students. Our drop-in hours allow students to come in any afternoon they’re free and discuss any career inquiry with Peer Career Advisors, who provide individual consultation. Professional staff members assist in the drop-in process, as well as offer appointments for students looking for more specific assistance.
Aligning the office closer to the president and admissions will attempt to emphasize what the office can do for all students. By working in tandem with MarCom, the office will be used to advertise the impact Ithaca College will have on a student’s future career. Our office has always worked with the Alumni Relations office to expand our networking abilities with alums. But too often in my work at the front desk, I hear students say, “I’m a senior, and I’ve never been here before” or, “Is this event just for seniors looking for a job?” Becoming a beacon of advertising may not make the office more effective at placing jobs, but it may increase visibility for underclassmen.
The hidden toll from this shift is that it reorganizes how the supporting staff will work with students, taking time away from individual needs. The counselors and administrators in our office have always worked creatively on office outreach and expanding our services to best assist the students. By changing the office, the loss of personalization from the staff would become a risk, and the college may change how the office serves as an excellent place on campus to get serious perspectives on life after college.
The question for newer students could become: Would you rather be placed into a system that determines where you will work in four years, or would you rather be able to decide and pursue your own goals? Personally, I would prefer the freedom to choose and change my future employment rather than fit into a mold.