Career Services aim to streamline job search

Starting a job after graduation is a goal many students share, but finding a position can be a complicated process. University Career Services (UCS) aims to guide students through the search with CareerKnight, a website dedicated to helping students.

CareerKnight helps students to find internships, schedule interviews with employers, sit through mock, sometimes virtual, interviews and plan meetings with advisors, said William Jones, Director of Operations and Strategic Initiatives at UCS.

“CareerKnight is our online career management system. Students can use it for ... exploring careers and majors ... you can even RSVP for things like employer information and networking sessions,” he said.

Students can use the service for different reasons, he said. They can schedule meetings with specialists at UCS to discuss their resumes and practice their interviewing skills.

UCS also has drop-in hours that students can take advantage of, he said. The same services are offered at both the Busch and College Avenue Campus locations, as well as in Kilmer Library on Livingston and Martin Hall on Douglass.

“They can come in during those hours and either have one of our career advisors or development specialists read your resume and cover letter,” he said.

Users who are not sure about what they want to do post-graduation can speak with the advisors about potential major or career options as well, he said. The website offers a test called “Focus 2,” which asks students various questions aimed toward finding career matches for their interests.

The specialists at UCS can help students interpret the results, he said. Based on these results, users can then begin searching for positions through the different fields on the website. Each student’s personal profile helps ensure the results are relevant to their interests.

This would help first-year students who enter as undeclared majors, said Pooja Sheth, a School of Arts and Sciences senior.

Many of these students decide their majors based on their classes and interests, but it can be difficult to pick a career from that.

For those still unsure about their post-undergraduate careers, UCS hosts panels with different companies where speakers discuss their fields, Jones said. Attendees are able to meet with panelists after the end of the event for one-on-one discussions about careers.

These workshops are smaller than the career fairs normally held at the University, he said. This allows students to have a more personal conversation with company representatives, who are often alumni as well.

“We have about 90 of those a semester that students can RSVP for,” he said. “All different types of employers, all different types of industries come to (these) info sessions.”

These different programs and services are paying off for students, Jones said. Over the last year nearly 5,000 new employer contacts were added to the CareerKnight database, with more than 14,000 positions posted.

Just over 4,000 of these positions led to interviews on-campus, he said. This number only reflects how many interviews were scheduled through CareerKnight, and many other students would have contacted the employer through an email or their own website instead.

About 28 percent of Rutgers students, or just under 15,000 people, logged into the website as well over the last 4 months, he said. This number comes from all three major campuses.

Interest in these events has been growing over the last few years, with 36 percent of graduates saying they used UCS to find their first job, up from 26 percent in 2013, he said. Space is at a premium due to the rooms available at Rutgers.

“We are a very large school with few large rooms,” he said. “We had 300 students (interested in an event) and 150 were able to attend.”

This, combined with nearly 50 percent of students not showing up to interviews or workshops they had registered for, resulted in a strict “no-show” policy, he said.

If students schedule an interview or register for an event but find they cannot attend, they have two days to cancel, he said. Students who fail to cancel in this time are immediately banned from the service until they have submitted an essay.

The purpose of this assignment is to ensure as many students attend an event as possible.

“We rarely have a second infraction,” he said.

Employers have to dedicate time to the events, and it reflects poorly on the University when students do not attend after responding that they would, he said. It also means that students on the waiting list who could have otherwise attended an event missed the opportunity to do so.

Normally a company would list a position and allow students to apply. The applicants who seem the best fit are contacted about scheduling an interview in one of the UCS facilities, he said.

A list of alternates is also compiled, and if students are unable to meet with the potential employer within the given time frame, one of these alternates is able to schedule a meeting.

After instituting this policy, only about 10 percent of students did not appear for interviews, he said. This is a significant drop from before the policy was started.

At the moment the website is the only way to access CareerKnight, Jones said. UCS is in the process of evaluating vendors to support the site, with the goal of improving it in the near future.

A new vendor would likely mean an app would be created, he said. Analytics show more students use mobile devices to access the site than desktop computers.

To get the most use out of the online service, students should log in to the system during their first years, although anyone can use it, Jones said.

Not all students are aware of the different services CareerKnight offers, said Anna Johnson a School of Arts and Sciences first-year. She said she was barely aware the service existed.

She expects she will use it more in the future.

“Students should activate their accounts by the second semester of their first year,” Jones said. “We can help you figure out what it is you want to do and get you on the right path. Career Services should not be a final destination, it should be a starting point.”


Nikhilesh De

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