Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
April 23, 2024

Career Center needs to modernize its approach

By NICHOLAS DEPAUL | March 14, 2013

For most seniors, myself included, the prospect of graduation carries a degree of uncertainty and fear. Since age five, we’ve had the certainty of school. But now that’s over. For many of us, this means moving “out into the world” and finding employment.

Hopkins believes it does a good job of helping students gain an introduction to the job market. The school holds job fairs and hosts recruiting events.

But the companies that participate are often concentrated in a small sliver of industries: consulting, finance, biotech, health, non-profit and government. There are always a few token outliers, but for the most part this is what we’ve got to work with.

What about those of us who are interested in journalism, or the creative sector, or don’t want a traditional office job? Reuters came to campus, and I went to the event thinking I could find some information about their news agencies. But to my surprise, they were only here recruiting computer scientists and statisticians.

The Hopkins brand is certainly built around the pillars of STEM, and augmented by strong international studies. But we also have a top writing program, and a taken-for-granted creative mindset. I have been largely uninterested in and, frankly, unqualified for almost every company that visits campus (except for consulting firms, but isn’t anyone with a top university degree qualified?).  Where are the innovation firms, the startup incubators, the music industries?

I believe it’s high time for Hopkins to revise its career development strategy to better reflect the interests and desires of current students, rather than force students to conform to established, traditional patterns. Would the Career Center ever suggest the Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) to a student as a viable option for a year or two out of school? Would they even be able to help a young songwriter seeking advice on how to make it in the cruel world of underground clubs and free digital EPs?

Too often, Hopkins implicitly promotes starting your “career” right out of school. This idea flies in the face of research that shows most young workers will hop between jobs and experiences almost yearly for the first ten years out of school. The University should help students prepare by enforcing the idea that “career” is an outdated term, and that they should look forward to trying new lifestyles and locations around the world.

In my Oral Presentations course, we were told that men should wear a suit and tie to a job interview. I countered that the formal image is no longer a norm, that many new companies value originality and individualism and expect interviewees to come as they are. I personally had an interview at a green tech firm in New York City where the representative was wearing a tank top bearing multiple tattoos and piercings. I wore black jeans and a button down, and I got the job.

The world is changing in many ways, and Hopkins is on the cutting edge in many fields. The University’s stance on career development should change with the times.

Nicholas DePaul is a senior Sustainable Globalization major from Los Angeles, Calif. He is a Staff Writer for The News-Letter. 

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