November 9, 2011

Career Center lacking amidst recession

In an economic downturn, jobs are becoming even more difficult to find, placing a greater emphasis on career services. The Knox College Center for Career and Pre-Professional Development has only two employees, director Terrie Saline and office coordinator Missy Kratz.

Prior to July 1, 2010, there was also the position of an internship coordinator. On July 1, Saline moved to the position of coordinator and was not replaced.

“I think we could better serve the students if there was a designated person for internships and employer relations,” Saline said. “It would be helpful to have someone help to research for our type of student in either a permanent position or an internship. At the moment, we have limited time to devote to that component.”

Since taking the position, Saline has tried to instigate her own innovations, like a newsletter, into the traditional career services: career counseling, library, job referrals, mock interviews, recruiting opportunities, résumés and cover letters.

Saline has noticed an increasing number of students utilizing the services; she attributed this, in part, to the current economic situation.

“I’m definitely noticing more students coming in, and I’ve received a lot of contact by the 2011 graduating class, especially over the summer months,” she said.

Overall, she views this continued contact as a positive thing.

“After they leave here, it’s hard to know where they go or how you can help them. If they stay in contact, you can do something for them” Saline said.

Audrey Savage, ’11, recently took an internship with the Associated Colleges of the Midwest and traveled to Knox. With the internship lasting only a couple more weeks, she took the opportunity to visit the Career Center and work on her résumé and cover letter before applying elsewhere.

Networking was one solution Saline offered to the decline of jobs.

“There are fewer jobs posted out there, but if you know somebody and you can contact an alum, you can still get your foot in the door; that’s why we really stress networking,” she said.

Within the student body, there is mixed involvement in career services. Saline said the motivating factor behind the newsletter was to recruit students to come into the center earlier on.

“It’s not a senior demographic,” she said. “It’s a lot of underclassmen. We have a bunch of freshmen wanting to do the self-evaluation and we have sophomores especially coming in.”

Sophomore Emily Themer said, “it’s good for those who have come across a need for those services. I’m sure that at some point in my Knox career I’ll need to stop in. I’m happy to do that, but for now I just don’t really think it’s necessary.”

Others, like sophomore Marie Anderson, have also not visited the center, “but I should,” she said. “I want to go later this year.” Anderson said she expects the Career Center to offer her “more information about what I can do with my major and what kind of internships would best prepare me for post-grad.”

Senior Claudia Brooke, a biology and creative writing major, expressed hesitancy in entering the career field. Like Savage, she went to have Saline help with her résumé and cover letter.

“I wanted to have someone else look over them before I sent them out,” she said.

Brooke said she has also attended some of the programs Saline has hosted on-campus for career development and would be willing to contact career services over the summer if she is having difficulty attaining employment.

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