It's about that time of year again. As the days until June fly off the calendar, students are rushing to find summer internships and post-graduation jobs in a still relatively weak economy. With so many possibilities and so little time, finding something to do when classes end can be a daunting, stressful and difficult task. Unsurprisingly, most students turn to the Career Development Center for guidance. After all, that's what it's there for, right?
In theory, yes, but in my time at Brown, the Career Development Center's resources have sometimes fallen short. I recall a time in the not-so-distant past when the center released announcement after announcement clearly targeted only at economics and computer science concentrators.
Recently, however, the CDC has taken student critiques to heart and made serious changes to broaden the proportion of students their workshops and information can serve. The recent Career Fair Plus, which featured an expanded roster of employers from a variety of fields, was just one example of the ways in which Brown's CDC has made considerable steps towards broadening the resources and support they provide to all students, regardless of concentration. CDC has also launched "The Scoop," a series of blogs providing links to information about jobs and internships in different industries.
All of these developments are likely to be a huge asset to students searching for summer and post-graduation employment. But there are still ways in which Brown's largest career resource can improve its service to its students.
Brown's Open Curriculum is a double-edged sword. On one hand, freedom from core requirements allows students to pursue a range of interests that they might not have been able to otherwise, or, alternately, specialize in one or two specific areas of interest.
On the other, the ability to explore topics one has never considered before has the potential to turn a student's prior life plans upside-down and leave him or her confused as to what course to take after passing through the Van Wickle Gates for the second time.
Brown provides its undergraduates with a diverse and flexible college experience. It only makes sense that the University's career resources should address the job search needs of its unique student body with a comprehensive and varied support network. To improve its now rapidly growing resources, the CDC can and should work to provide information that both works with and caters to its constituency's diverse backgrounds and interests.
One example: the CDC can make better use of the existing knowledge within the student body and alums. While I've certainly been taking advantage of the CDC's new resources, I've noticed that an overwhelming number of my best leads on jobs and internships have come from other undergraduates as well as recently graduated friends. It's no surprise; with students from such diverse backgrounds and with such varied work experiences and interests, it's only natural that students amass significant knowledge about their respective industries. So why not tap into that potential?
The CDC already offers a Summer Experience Database, which provides a searchable platform of detailed records on students' prior internship experiences. It also offers the ability to network with recent alums via BRUnet. But giving students an even simpler option to share known job prospects, job boards and other information could increase the CDC's usefulness even more.
An official "tips" email account where students and recent alums could send links to organizations and job boards not already on the CDC's site would give career counselors more proven resources to share with students searching for jobs or internships.
Having a variety of information is certainly useful, but even more important to increasing the CDC's usefulness is presenting information in a way that makes it accessible to all students. Currently, the CDC Web site boasts pages of resources on job databases for various industries and offers tests and consultations to help students pinpoint potential industries of interest. Overall, however, the Center lacks resources targeted towards concentrators who may not know what exactly they want to do with their newfound passions after senior year.
Brown Degree Days, which brings alums from various fields together to discuss how their concentrations at Brown led them into their respective career paths, is one recently developed program that helps students find connections between their academic experiences and the job market. Providing more such programs, as well as targeting pages of job and internship search resources to students with specific concentrations, could provide uncertain students with ideas for jobs and industries that they might never have considered.
These are just a few of the ways in which the CDC can improve its already greatly expanded resources. I certainly don't expect the CDC to drop a job or internship into my (or my fellow classmates') lap. As I've noted above, job hunting is difficult, and I'm grateful for the resources that Brown already provides. But a few changes could make the Center's information even more relevant and useful to Brown's diverse student body.
Adrienne Langlois '10 is proud to be a history and Latin American studies concentrator, even if job options are less readily available for her.