Career Development Center sees drop in engagement among upperclassmen


Contributed photo

Although the number of attendees was not outstanding, several students enjoyed mingling with alumni during the Career Development Center’s Career Networking Night.

Erin McGarrity, Staff writer

The Career Development Center, or CDC, has been growing increasingly discouraged by the lack of engagement, particularly among seniors, in campus recruiting events.

The various services, from resume-building to interview coordination, that the CDC offers are free of charge for all students. The office also runs an online hub for career and internship management called CareerConnect. On this site, students can post their credentials and use the system’s advanced search capabilities to find the perfect positions for them.

The office hosts two mini career fairs during the fall semester, as well as various networking events through the academic year. In the past two weeks, the office has hosted two such events, and fewer than 10 students registered for each. The CDC is struggling to figure out why.

Frank Rizzone, associate director for the Career Development Center, suggests that students do not understand the role of the office. A common misconception, he says, is that employees of the CDC are there to get students jobs.

“I always like to say that the CDC is like a GPS system,” said Rizzone. “We point students in the directions they ought to go, but we can’t get behind the wheel and drive for them. It’s up to the students to knock on our door.”

The purpose for these CDC-hosted events is to connect students with organizations in their desired fields. More often than not, the office also coordinates interviews for students when certain recruiters visit campus. All students need to do is sign up.

“We try our best to make it as simple as possible for students. However, there is little that we can feasibly do when they don’t take the time to seek us out,” Rizzone said.

According to Rizzone, campus recruiting has changed over the years. More organizations are taking advantage of Skype and online interviews, and the number of recruiters coming to campus each year has decreased from nearly 100 to about 30. This makes the need for students, especially seniors, to become more engaged in CDC events all the more important.

“A definite shift has taken place,” said Rizzone. “We do work with students all year long, but we don’t have anything that we do particularly differently with the senior class. If they haven’t come to see us at all at this point in the year, it’s getting kind of late.”

Rizzone says he would love to see more faculty support the CDC’s job fairs by allowing students to miss classes to attend the events or offering extra credit for participation.

“The flip side of our frustration here is that there are so many students who come to us and say that they would have loved to have gone, but they weren’t able to get out of class, even for a little bit,” said Rizzone. “I would really like to see that change.”

Despite the low rate of engagement, the placement rate for seniors each year remains within 80 percent and 90 percent. This means that up to 90 percent of each senior class has either committed to a graduate school or received a job by their graduation date. The CDC conducts a survey before the end of each year to learn what each senior’s post-graduation plan is.

The CDC’s next event will be the Career Fair, which the office holds every spring. It will take place on Thursday, April 7, in the Mercyhurst Athletic Center from noon to 4 p.m. The CDC recommends that students of all ages attend and, if possible, try to be there early.