NEWS

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October 8, 2004

CAPS information sessions aid job-seeking students

As part of On-Campus Recruitment (OCR), the Career Advising and Planning Services (CAPS) office offers information sessions featuring presentations by various companies to hopeful, job-seeking students. Many students attend these sessions in their fourth year to get information and make contacts with companies for which they are interested in working after graduation. With more companies coming to campus this year than ever before, the process of attending the information sessions can be a time-consuming, but perhaps necessary step for those looking to land a job.

Information sessions usually last around an hour-and-a-half, often allowing time for students to ask questions and mingle with employers. At some sessions, students can demonstrate their enthusiasm for the company by submitting their resumes and offering their contact information. For many students, including fourth-year student Shawn Ellis, the main purpose for attending the sessions is "building contacts."

The contacts students make at the information sessions or at the job fair do not guarantee a job, but they can let a company seeking to employ students from the University know who is interested. "[On-Campus Recruitment] brings to the student an employer who is predisposed to wanting to hire a U of C student—they are investing time and money to recruit and they have made a decision to expend those resources on our campus rather than another school," explained Liz Michaels, director for CAPS. "The better we understand what an employer is looking for, the better we are able to coach students to be successful."

The results of attending these sessions can be ambiguous and leave students wondering if the employers they meet will remember them if they later decide to apply for a job. Information sessions precede on-campus interviews and the job fair, so many students are hopeful to make a good first impression. "You would stand out if you didn't come dressed up, though probably not for the right reasons," said Anin Dya, a graduate student in mathematics. Although students may know what not to do, they realize that making a positive impression is often futile. "The number of company people to candidates is so low that it's difficult to make a lasting impression on any company person," Dya added.

The significance of the information sessions varies from employer to employer, but those giving the information session for Morningstar, Inc., an investment research firm, did concede that students' impressions could affect their decision. However, it was more important for the representatives at Morningstar that the students express interest in the company than behave in any certain way to impress them. "There are always the snap judgments that we make, but I've never come away saying we need to get their resumes," said John Tipton, a ‘92 alumnus of the University and employee of Morningstar. For him the information sessions are more to get students excited about Morningstar, and are not mandatory for success in applying for the job. "It's for us to show how we're different, how we're a cool place to work at," he explained.

This personal dimension of the presentation draws some students hoping to find out about the attitude of the company and of the people who work there. "None of the info sessions aid in the process of acquiring a job, but they help me get a feel for the company," said Seefat Sayeed, a fourth-year in the College, at the Morgan Stanley information session.

Some students even use their interest in the presentation to gauge what working for the company would be like. "Even if you're bored at the presentation, it's a good thing because you get to realize that this isn't the place for you to be," explained Boqui Lu, also a fourth-year in the College, at the SAC Capital Advisors, LLC information session. "If you didn't come you might have thought otherwise."

As part of a thorough job search, the information sessions are important, but often frustrate students. The information sessions can be overcrowded and leave little time for questions. "If it's really crowded it's a waste of time because you can't hear in the back," said Heejin Kim, a third-year economics concentrator.

While students can find it worrisome and overwhelming, the process of attending information sessions and interviews can ultimately be rewarding. "I'm taking four classes and prepping for the LSAT, so you can look at it as a sixth class which is kind of excessive. But you have to have something to do after college," explained Rich Bass, a fourth-year in the College.

The uncertainty of the outcome of the job search can create anxiety amongst those searching. "I'm an international student," said third-year in the College Harsh Dev. "If I don't get a job within a year after graduation, my investment in coming to college here was not really worth it."

"Don't expect the world from them. They're not going to get you a job, but they'll let you know what's out there," said Christopher Coordes, a fourth-year in the College, summing up the mixed reviews of the information sessions.