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Southwestern Receives High Marks for Its Career Services

The 2008 edition of The Best 366 Colleges, published by the Princeton Review, ranked Southwestern # #7 in the country for Best Career/Job Placement Services.

Every time Roger Young runs into a student at Southwestern, he makes a point to ask them whether they have been to Career Services yet.

Young’s efforts to familiarize students with the office he has directed since 1998 paid off recently, as a popular guidebook gave Southwestern’s career services one of the top rankings in the country.

The 2008 edition of The Best 366 Colleges, published by the Princeton Review, ranked Southwestern #7 in the country for Best Career/Job Placement Services. The list was compiled through a survey of 120,000 students at colleges included in the book.

This was the first year the Princeton Review compiled a list based on students’ rating of their campus career/job placement services.

“This was something we heard a clamoring for among parents and students, given the cost of college education today,” said Jennifer Adams, student survey manager for the Princeton Review.

Adams said students were asked to rank their career center on a five-point scale from poor to very good. Colleges were compared based on the average rating from all students responding to the survey.

“When I found out that the ranking came from students, I was not surprised,” Young said. “Our students know us and they know we care about them as individuals.”

Young said surveys that Career Services has conducted on its own also show that students are happy with their services.

“We are always trying to adjust and fine tune our services as needed,” he said.

Career Services offers a variety of programs throughout the year, ranging from resume writing workshops to job and graduate school fairs. Particularly popular programs include the annual “Etiquette Dinner” and a “Career Connections” barbecue on campus that connects students with alumni.

Two years ago, Career Services started taking the “Career Connections” program on the road as well. To date, programs have been held in Houston and Dallas. Next year, a program will be held in San Antonio. Businessman and Southwestern alum Red McCombs will serve as host of the Jan. 9 event.

“The more you get students connected with real people, the more they get excited about their own career,” Young said.

Career Services also does plenty of one-on-one counseling. Last year, staff in the office held more than 700 individual advising sessions.

“We’re more high-touch than high-tech,” Young said. “Our students know we really care about what happens to them.”

Young said he encourages students to start the career planning process early in their time at Southwestern. A brochure published by his office offers a step-by-step plan of what students should do each year to prepare for their future after Southwestern.

“We try to take the stress out of career planning,” Young said.

Young noted that most students won’t stay with their first job more than two or three years, so it is important that they have the skills they need to manage their careers over the long term.
These skills include resume development, interviewing, networking and job searching.

“My goal is not to serve as a placement office, but rather to equip students with the skills they need to land jobs,” Young said. He also encourages students to explore different career fields and try some on through internships or volunteer work.

“I want our students to get jobs that are personally satisfying to them and jobs they will be happy in,” he said.

Young credits his staff – which includes Associate Director Alex Anderson, Internship Coordinator Maria Kruger, Secretary Sharon Hehman and Internship Secretary Megan Hardin – with his office’s success. “I’ve got a great staff,” he said. “Everyone here has the students’ best interests in mind. They don’t think of this as just a job, but a calling.”

Young also attributes the center’s success to support from faculty members.

“We go into between 30 to 35 classrooms a semester to talk about the services we offer,” Young said. “Students really appreciate that.”

Since the Princeton Review book was released, Young said he has received letters of congratulation from colleagues around the country. Career Services is planning a party Aug. 30 from noon to 2 p.m. to thank everyone who has supported their efforts.