Director’s Blog: What is Your Job Search Report Card, 2011 edition

Special blog entry by Wendie Phillips, Director of Student Services

After last year’s Employer Connections Fair, Student Services posted a blog entry providing feedback on the employers’ perceptions of the student they’d met. Since that entry was very popular, we’re again providing you with feedback from the employers at this year’s fair.

In general, the employers had rave reviews about you! They were impressed with your skill set and had “great interactions with students.” As an indication of how pleased the employers were with the students they met, seventy-five percent of them say they are planning to offer interviews to students they met at the fair. This is up 15% from last year’s fair.  In fact, one company, Booz Allen Hamilton, one of the top US Consulting Firms, was so impressed with the students they met that they asked to do a follow-up information session with iSchool students.

There are a couple of areas in which they felt students could improve:

  • Preparedness of the student
    (last year they indicated 63% were had very good or excellent preparation, this year it was 60%).
    Employers expressed that students need to come to fair with more knowledge about the company, what the company does and even a bit about the types of positions for which the company recruits. While they are okay with answering these questions, this takes time away from the recruiters being able to learn about you and your skills. They’d rather you come knowing about the company, what role you want to play in the company and how your skills meet the company’s needs. You have limited time to sell yourself at these events and you want to use that time wisely.

    For most career fairs, including ours, companies who have registered are posted on a website in advance of the fair. Before you go to the fair, do your research—identify the companies to whom you want to talk and visit their websites in advance.

  • Work experience
    It is increasingly common for companies to seek applicants who have some sort of work experience (sometimes even for internships). This lets the employer know that you can put your academic knowledge to work outside the classroom and that you can succeed in a work environment. Students need to look for opportunities that help you build professional skill sets to include on your resume. These can be internships, part-time jobs, volunteer opportunities or class projects where you work directly with a company/library/organization.

In addition to the feedback from employers, we also received feedback from students who attend the Employer Connections Fair. The largest number of comments are about the employers and the types of job opportunities present at the fair. One consistent comment was about how few libraries were represented. We agree with you, we were disappointed by the library turnout as well.

Student Services started recruiting employers for the fair last summer. We sent over 500 fair invitations to companies, non-profits and libraries across the country.  In addition, we reached out to iSchool faculty and staff for employer contacts, had two Graduate Students make follow-up calls to a number of local companies and sent Student Services staff members to other campus career fairs to invite companies at those fairs to attend our fair.

For libraries specifically, all public library districts in Washington and Oregon received an invitation, as well as academic libraries across the US and organizations and companies who tend to hire librarians. The unfortunate part is that the libraries either declined our invitation or did not respond: some because they didn’t anticipate having open positions and some because they could not afford to participate in the fair.

Some of you may be discouraged because you didn’t find the ideal job position or organization you wanted at the fair. Keep in mind that the Employer Connections Fair should be only one part of your job search strategy. In addition to networking at the fair, you should also be participating in professional development activities and conferences, doing information interviews, attending other career fairs and company information sessions on campus, and networking with iSchool alums or Husky Career Network.

To help you do that, Student Services has some upcoming events planned:

  • Business Analyst Career Panel
    Tuesday, February 15th, 2011, 12:00-1:00 pm, MGH 420
  • Special Librarians Faculty Panel
    Wednesday, February 23, 2011 – 12:30 – 1:20 pm, MGH 420
    Featuring Nancy Gershenfeld (Senior Lecturer) and Laura Dushkes (Lecturer and Librarian at NBBJ Design)  
  • Meet-the-Library: The Seattle Public Library
    Monday, March 7th, 2011, 3:00 – 5:00 pm, MGH 420

Events to be finalized

  • Special Librarians Career Panel: TBD

Events in planning stages

  • Meet-the-Library with King County Libraries and/or UW Libraries
  • Meet-the-Firm Booz Allen Hamilton
  • Possible Meet-the-Firm with Google
  • Alumni Networking Night

The Student Services staff is working hard to identify ways to support iSchool students in your career search. In order to help us do that more efficiently, we need your ideas. Later this quarter, Student Services will be hosting a feedback session to get student input on the types of Career Program you’d like to see happen in the iSchool. Details coming soon.

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