Career Centers

Universities all have campus career centers. Should you choose your school based on their career center?

Interesting theory, Canadian Business in their annual MBA Guide has an article entitled:

Career centres: what to look for.

It's a small article so here is the gist of it:

    Besides some basic facts like the job placement rate and salary averages (at graduation and six months afterward), here are some questions you ought to ask when evaluating career centres.

    How many services are tailored to MBA students?
    Some business programs lump MBAs and commerce undergrads together. MBAs have more sophisticated needs and should be treated differently.

    How many relationship managers are there, and what are their backgrounds?
    Just like a faculty-to-student ratio, this is an indication of much individual attention you'll get.

    What kinds of corporate outreach activities does the career centre use to attract recruiters?
    There should be a close and frequent association with the business community that puts students in contact with it in several different ways, not just huge career fairs.

    What corporations does the career centre have ongoing contact with?
    The list ought to be long, with a variety of industries and company sizes. And if you're interested in meeting with a company not on the list, counselors should willingly offer to make contact.

These are all good questions however there is a slight problem with them. Remember that Universities compete for students so certainly they are going to put their best foot forward when it comes to attracting them. You would expect them to talk up their career center just as they often talk up their placement rates.

Here's a good way to evaluate university career centres. Talk to the employers themselves.

AS an MBA student (or let's face it any type of student) give some thought as to where you want to work after your degree. Let's say you aspire to a career in consulting. Why not call up the recruiting departments of the large consulting firms and tell them you are doing some research on university career centers and then ask them for their input. I guarantee you that you will get some very good information and as a bonus you will have done some networking with hiring authorities.

Wouldn't it be great to close a conversation with: "thanks for the information lets get together when you are on campus recruiting."


AS someone who has used the services of career centers on many occasions I can tell you that there is a definite difference in the level of service that they give to employers.

How do employers measure that service? Simple how easy does a career center make it for us to: advertise on campus, interview on campus, and make our company visible to the student body.

Most of the universities are very good but when I was doing the campus recruiting circuit there were some standouts.

Wilfred Laurier University - have a great career center and are excellent at setting up interviews for employers.

McMaster University - not only are they great at organizing interviews on campus but they have an excellent dining room in the University club and one of the career center folks will take you to lunch there.

Brock University - Brock being as smaller school really tries hard to develop relationships with employers. I always appreciated their follow up and regular contact. They also have a great dining room!

I wont go into specific universities that aren't so good but I will mention a couple of things that annoyed me as an employer.

One of the big things that annoyed me was when a lot of universities handed all job posting over to Workopolis. I think workopolis is a great site but this immediately shut out all employers who had contracts with Monster(as one of my clients did) and if employers can't advertise on campus then you aren't going to see those opportunities.

Another area where I think career centers fall down is not giving students an clear idea of their options in the business world. When I was recruiting for sales candidates on campus I was always disappointed when some schools didn't seem to have any idea that this was a career option for some of their students.

I once gave a talk at a university about job searching. The woman from the career center also spoke. It was clear from the reaction of the students that they were hearing information from me that they had never heard from their career center "advisors" namely how to be proactive in your job search.

I don't know that I would pick my b-school purely on the career center but I hope that this will give you some idea as to how to rate yours.

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