Career Center to appoint school-specific directors

By JAE CHOI | March 7, 2019

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The Career Center recently announced plans to appoint additional directors to provide specialized career advice for students. There will be two new directors of career services, one for the Krieger School of Arts & Sciences and one for the Whiting School of Engineering, and each will oversee between six to eight assistant directors. These assistant directors will provide career services and opportunities to students within a specific set of departments. 

Executive Director for the Homewood Career Center Ann Garner said that a major goal of their plan is removing barriers that prevent current students from seeking out Career Center services. 

“The challenge is that there were students that we were still not seeing, and there are probably a lot of reasons for that. It could be that they just don’t know what they don’t know; it could be that they may think, ‘I’m going to graduate school and the Career Center isn’t for me; they may think that ‘it’s just kind of a scary place and I don’t want to engage with them,’” she said. “If we can be a more departmental or major-focused resource for the students, we can see them on a regular basis.”

Garner hopes that appointing directors in charge of specific sets of departments will attract a greater variety of students and allow them to receive more individualized career advice. 

In addition to having access to these assistant directors, first-year students will have access to additional staff. The Career Center will also launch an online mentoring system that will connect current students with alumni. 

Yeji Kim, a sophomore International Studies and French major, believes that these changes will have a positive impact on the student body. 

“That is definitely one of the first steps they can make in order to cater to more students and also connect with them more deeply,” Kim said.

Administrators at the Career Center hope these changes will allow them to reach more students, enhance the physical availability of career services and change prevailing attitudes within the student body about the Career Center. They explained that they sought feedback through the senior survey and “design dinners,” during which students, faculty and staff shared their thoughts and concerns about the Center. 

Gil Berreby, a sophomore engineering major, said that he didn’t know very much about the Career Center beyond their promotion of the Handshake platform, which he heard about in one of his classes. 

Berreby feels that aside from advertising their services more widely, the Career Center could benefit from offering more specified services.

“I feel like there are a million different engineering majors and a million different Krieger majors, and they’re wildly different to a certain extent, so getting one [director] for each major would definitely help out,” he said.

Kim echoed Berreby’s sentiments. She has previously attended workshops and Career Center activities. 

“They’re pretty useful right now at the moment, but they could be a bit more visible to the students and more specific in terms of their workshops, because sometimes it’s hard to cater it to all students,” Kim said.

Administrators at the Career Center are also hoping that making Career Center services available within individual departments will make the Career Center more physically available to students. 

According to Vice Provost for Integrative Learning and Life Design Farouk Dey, the location of the Career Center itself may be something that keeps students from seeking out Career Center services. He said that in addition to not knowing enough about the Career Center or feeling intimidated by it, students may be too busy to visit the Career Center in Garland. 

“The challenge is that they have to go to the Career Center. We’re eliminating that step. The model of the future is that it’s no longer about students going to the center. It’s going to be another resource within your academic program alongside faculty, your courses, your academic advisors, and now you have a career facilitator who will be working on establishing connections to programs and activities,“ he said. 

Bolaji John, a sophomore Biomedical Engineering major, feels that the Career Center should be advertised more. Like Berreby, John said he was aware of its presence of Handshake, but didn’t know about where it is located. 

“I know we have one, and that’s about it,” he said. 

Administrators at the Career Center also want to make its services relevant to students who go on to post-graduate programs.

Garner explained that this is particularly relevant, given that many Hopkins students go on to graduate school. 

“We see ourselves as a place to help support students’ careers through our partnership with pre-professional advising, as well as the work we do to help students think about their next steps,” Garner said. “35% of Hopkins students go directly to graduate school, whether that’s a professional school or a traditional graduate program. Because there is such a large section of the population that chooses that route, we do feel like we have a role to play in supporting them.”

However, Communications Specialist for the Career Center Rebecca Shillenn emphasized that all of these new changes will not diminish existing services and programming. According to Shillenn, this is important because current programming allows students to explore different career options instead of focusing on one specific field.

“The career academies will still exist and will still have industry-focused events. We’ll still have our career fairs. Just because you’re in one major doesn’t mean that you’re going to follow a straight line through one major or another to a very obvious career – most students don’t,” she said. 

For Dey, the main goal of the Career Center is to provide services to students across all disciplines and prospective career paths. 

He said that these changes mark a major shift in the way that the Career Center operates and the way in which students will be able to interact with alumni and future employers.  

“What we’re trying to accomplish is to increase the engagement of students with career opportunities, with employers, with alumni mentors, and also with the entire process of planning their careers and their lives for the future,” he said. 

In preparation for these changes, Career Center Administrators will be going on “listening tours” in which they will talk with students and faculty within various academic departments. Dey will conduct these tours. Once the listening tours are complete, evaluation and needs assessments will be shared and directors will be assigned to their respective departments. 

Shillenn said that as soon as the staff are ready, the plan will be implemented. 

“The basic aim is to have our staff ready and the plan is to be nested in these departments by fall of 2019,” she said.

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