With new focus on internships, Career Center hopes students succeed in job market
Washington University’s Career Center has stepped up its efforts to help students obtain the jobs they want.
This initiative is a reaction to students’ worries about finding jobs in the current economic climate.
In 2009, the Career Center interviewed and researched 25 premier employers, including Google and Teach for America, to discern how Washington University students could become more competitive in the job market. They found that, in nearly every case, 50 to 100 percent of the seniors hired by these institutions had previously interned there.
Jim Beirne, director of external relations for the Career Center, called this discovery an “aha” moment.
“From that moment we switched what had been an internal metric to [emphasizing that] our graduates should have multiple meaningful internships,” he said.
In pursuit of this goal, the Career Center has expanded its stipend program from $40,000 annually to $250,000.
While four years ago, the school offered only 20 WUSTL preferred internships, there are now over 100 on CAREERlink.
“For legal reasons, in the U.S., you have to treat every applicant the same way and document that they applied. But, by sending it in personally to the website, people feel like it’s a black hole. With the WUSTL preferred internships and the connections we have, we try to bring personalization to the process,” Beirne said.
Opportunities for Alumni Career Externships (ACE), which allow undergraduates to shadow prominent alumni of the University over spring break, are also a new offering of the Career Center. This year, the program includes the CEO for Lionsgate Entertainment, and the senior designer at Derek Lam.
Beirne said that he has already seen the results of new Career Center initiatives. The University has seen a rise in campus interviews, and both Goldman Sachs and Google recently made the University a target institution.
“One of the things we heard a couple of times from key recruiters is that WUSTL students were competitive with any undergraduate in the country, but they felt that WUSTL students didn’t have multiple meaningful internships. They would go back and teach swimming again like they did in high school,” Beirne said.
Beirne also noted the importance of students using the Career Center. “There is a direct correlation between students coming in here multiple times and students getting earlier offers, higher paying offers, getting closer to what they want,” he said.
Students with diverse interests agree with the Career Center’s message.
Shirlene Obuobi, a sophomore, noted internships’ value for pre-medical students.
“I think they are important if you go to a place with a medical field, because I know a lot of med schools want to see that you have experience in an actual hospital,” she said.
Katie Dobscha, a junior, interned for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation in New York the summer after her freshman year. The internship was a WUSTL preferred one and was listed on CAREERlink. Dobscha also received a stipend from the Career Center in order to afford living in New York.
“It was very nice to be able to get some experience right away, because it steered me in the right direction in terms of my career path,” Dobscha said. “It gave me a picture of what it would be like to work in New York in marketing for a nonprofit.”
Working to redesign one of the foundation’s brochures influenced Dobscha’s future plans.
“It was something I loved, and now I’m applying to a lot of places that use design and social media,” she said.