University News

CareerLAB looks to diversify offerings

Some students have criticized the center, saying it focuses on a narrow set of fields

Senior Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Though the Center for Careers and Life After Brown has historically been criticized for its focus on technology, finance and consulting jobs, Director Andrew Simmons said it has continued making efforts to help students find links between their education and career opportunities. 

But some students said they still feel CareerLab has more work to do in terms of diversifying its offerings for undergraduates.

“What I’m most interested in is the middle ground between finance and PeaceCorps — companies that aren’t either of these polar extremes,” said Sage Green ’14.5

Finding that breadth remains “a challenge in a sense because we have such a diverse student body in terms of where students come from and what they want to do,” Simmons said.

Though Simmons did not comment on the center’s specific plans for expansion this year, CareerLAB has taken recent steps in an effort to increase its campus presence and services and to rebrand its image on campus.

In 2011, CareerLAB established a nonprofit career fair and increased the number of postings on the Job and Internship Board through greater employer outreach, Simmons said. Formerly the Career Development Center, CareerLAB changed its name in 2011 to reflect a move toward more services for students beyond just job postings, The Herald reported at the time.

CareerLAB has also expanded its summer networking events, adding new events in Boston and on the West Coast, Simmons said.

The center has been recruiting more specialized advisors, he added, and offering pre-professional medical and law advising — which were previously provided by the Office of the Dean of the College. CareerLAB reaches out to academic advisors and departments, providing them with information and resources to pass on to students about their careers, Simmons said.

Simmons said he has seen more student participation in CareerLAB programs during his time as director, perhaps due to the center’s efforts to publicize its activities. Students and parents are more organized “about (their) educational planning and how that works on a continuum with your life long goals,” he added.

The center’s busiest months are September — when seniors come in for information sessions on writing their resumes and cover letters — as well as October, when students then seek advice for interviews, said Rebecca Gevertz ’14, a receptionist at CareerLAB.

Though it is “difficult to get appointments,” Gevertz said her experience with CareerLAB has been positive.

Advik Iyer Guha ’16 said he did not like having to wait in line for walk-in hours but found the CareerLAB “helpful” in improving his resume.

He said while the center has effective advertising, it needs to reach out to those who are not as interested in getting jobs yet. “Those are the ones who need to hear about it most,” he said.

Eugene Lee ’15 said he only knows about CareerLAB through the regular emails sent out and has never participated in any of its programs, suggesting better publicity would increase student participation.

Some students choose not to attend the center’s programs because “a lot of people don’t want to think about getting a job,” Gevertz added.

Others suggested lack of interest could stem from dissatisfaction with the career options most commonly represented.

“I know the career fair has a lot of finance firms and pre-professional stuff,” Ben Gastevich ’16 said. “The offerings seemed a little skimpy.”

Career LAB receives informal feedback from students, and is “working toward developing more systematic program evaluations,” Simmons said.

“I think we are continuing to look at ways to meet the needs of students in this domain.”

—  Additional reporting by Abigail Savitch-Lew and Isobel Heck

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