University News

Business, finance dominate on-campus recruiting

Senior Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 20, 2011

They came to do good, and ended up doing well. But Brown students fight this adage far more than the Quakers did in Philadelphia. Despite students’ tendency toward wide-eyed idealism, the recruiters who come to campus are largely from finance, consulting and computer science companies.

 On Wednesday, the Center for Careers and Life After Brown will hold its annual job fair, bringing more than 90 recruiters to campus. But only 24 of the recruiters on campus will fall under the Careers in the Common Good designation.

“Our challenge is to identify the kinds of things students want,” said Andrew Simmons, director of CareerLAB. Students are asked to fill out a questionnaire about their career interests, and the results of the survey are used to formulate an “employer outreach strategy.”

In the 2010 survey, 75 percent of students indicated interest in careers in the common good, prompting CareerLAB to organize a separate fair dedicated to jobs in education, government and the non-profit sector, which will be held in the Kasper Multipurpose Room simultaneously with the fairs in Peterutti Lounge and Sayles Hall.

CareerLAB is “geared more toward engineering and business,” said Ora Star Boncore ’12, a visual arts and American studies concentrator. She said she would like to see a career fair for students interested in arts and advertising as well.

But companies in finance and consulting are often the ones with the most “formal recruiting processes,” Simmons said. Students interested in smaller businesses can instead turn to resources like field notes available online, career advisers in their areas of interest or the alumni connections available on BRUnet, Simmons said.

In some departments, concentration advisers and faculty take on the role of career advisers — and some feel they are uniquely qualified to counsel students.

“Only those in the business and who understand the business can help people who want to be in the business,” said Lowry Marshall, professor of theatre arts and performance studies. Resumes for students applying for jobs in theater are very different from regular business resumes, and faculty members of the TAPS department can provide necessary advice in this area, she said. TAPS concentrators are also required to take a senior seminar that provides them with career advice and access to alums who work in the creative arts.

Chantel Whittle ’12, a TAPS concentrator, said the popularity of the seminar, even among non-concentrators, speaks to the “job that CareerLAB isn’t doing.” But she said she thought the center has improved during her time at Brown. “It’s a lot better for people who can use it,” she said.

Marjorie Thompson ’74 PhD’79 P’02 P’07 P’09 P’12 P’14, associate dean of biological sciences, also said her department could be more useful to students than CareerLAB. “It’s different with the sciences,” she said, adding that it would not make sense for CareerLAB to replicate the department’s advising system. “I’m not sure if more could be done,” she said.

Kelsey Collins ’13, a human biology concentrator, said she found CareerLAB office hours useful, but that she wished the center had more advisers with  backgrounds in science. She said she would like to see information sessions on securing research jobs in the sciences and more summer opportunities that are not business or consulting-based on the CareerLAB website.

“We’re very cognizant of the need to add breadth to what’s available,” Simmons said.

Fifty percent of the undergraduate body used CareerLAB services last year, Simmons said, and he hopes to increase this proportion with new initiatives. This year, the CareerLAB will host a Sunday conversation series to bring alums on campus to speak about their professional experiences and a three-day symposium in January to facilitate alumni-to-student networking.

“They’re moving in the right direction,” said Haley Strausser ’12, who uses CareerLAB’s new Facebook page to keep track of the center’s events. She said she plans to enter business or consulting upon graduation and found CareerLAB useful in getting an internship and revamping her resume.

“They’re not outwardly present, but if you go to them, they’re great,” said Grace Dalrymple ’13, who used CareerLAB to learn about funding for an unpaid internship.

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