Weston Career Center: Still more work to be done
The Weston Career Center has undergone significant changes in the past few years to combat students’ dissatisfaction with job placement services. In light of BusinessWeek’s latest ranking, however, it appears the center is still lagging compared to the services offered by other top universities. Most notable in the 2009 BusinessWeek article is the “C” Wash. U. receives for job placement. This grade ties Wash. U. for the lowest score with five other universities in the top 50. In addition, BusinessWeek also acknowledges that Wash. U.’s Weston Career Center (WCC), according to students, lowers the undergraduate business program’s efficacy.
We believe that while the Weston Career Center may have increased efforts toward substantial improvements in recent years, its current state not only interferes with students’ abilities to find jobs, but also hinders the business school’s overall functioning and appeal.
The job market is tough and as a result poses obvious difficulties to any career center. Graduating seniors around the country are no doubt suffering the consequences of the weakened economy. The WCC has heightened its efforts to expand the list of target companies and increase access to academic and career advisors. But when such efforts come without dramatic results, they do not provide adequate excuses for the trend of subpar career services at Wash. U. Aesthetic renovations to the Weston Career Center cannot compensate for the lack of national brand name recognition. Resources could be better invested in promoting Olin’s reputation outside the Midwest. While the WCC encourages finance majors to think of new areas in which to apply their skills, the advice should be more concrete and integrated more with coursework.
In recent years, the WCC has experienced numerous changes in leadership. Effective May 31, 2008, Jim Beirne stepped down from his post as director of the Career Center. Karen Heise served as the interim director, while the WCC conducted a national search for a new, permanent director. Most recently, Associate Dean Mark Brostoff has taken over operations as director. CAREERlink, the Career Center’s online job search tool, is neither easy to access nor user friendly. In addition, the business school has eliminated the course Managing Your Business Career Strategy, and opted to merge the curriculum into The Olin Experience program, a four-year series of courses on critical thinking and other topics which displeases many students. Is it too much to ask for consistency?
In a pre-Thanksgiving break message, Brostoff wrote, “With the soft economy, there has been a significant shift in corporate recruiting strategy as companies are conducting less on-campus interviews and relying more on company website job postings, employee (alumni) referrals, telephone screens and other ways to reduce the cost of hiring. No matter, the Weston Career Center remains focused on expanding our list of target companies while we expand our reach with recruiters for more opportunities, more [résumé] collects and more connections than in years past.”
We do not intend to imply that the Weston Career Center has not dedicated energy to improving its services, but rather that those energies have not been focused in the right places. Job placement and career services are both critical aspects of any university and particularly of a business program where students depend on such services to make their lofty education costs worthwhile. Unlike some of the student experiences with the Weston Career Center, its mission statement is unambiguous: “Our Vision,” states the WCC Web site: “Be best in class among business school career services centers and make career services a competitive advantage for the Olin brand.” The Weston Career Center has a long way to go.