May 5, 2009

CAPS reaches out to alumni to help graduating class find jobs

Career and Planning Services (CAPS) and Alumni Relations and Development are relying on a new online network to create job opportunities for the College’s graduating class that may counteract the slumping job market.

The new website,, allows students and alumni to search for and post jobs while providing opportunities for social networking.

Dean of the College John Boyer sent an e-mail to all University alumni two weeks ago suggesting that alumni post jobs, connect the University to their organization’s hiring manager, refer colleagues to the U of C, or join the Alumni Careers Network to help out the graduating students, all made easier through the new Web Site.

“I am writing to ask for your assistance in aiding this year’s class as they seek full-time employment opportunities and make plans for future work and study,” Boyer wrote.

The e-mail has already produced over 100 job or mentorship offers, according to Meredith Daw, director of CAPS.According to Bill Michel, assistant vice president for student life, the University began getting in touch with alumni in October, when the University realized the potential effects of the economy on students looking for work. Michel, CAPS, and the Alumni Relations and Development Office developed the approach to provide this support at a series of meetings.

“We’ve been reaching out in small groups to alumni, friends, and parents, sent an e-mail to alumni, and we are in the process of hiring a new career counselor to work full time in May,” Michel said.

Eric Horner, senior associate director of interactive media at the Alumni Relations and Development office, collaborated with CAPS to develop the new site.

Though direct contact between students and alumni may not result in immediate job offers for students, Matt Donato, senior associate director at the Alumni Relations and Development office, thinks it will serve students over the long-term.

“Networking is not to ask for a job, but to ask for advice and a mentor. Students can get practical advice for their fields and information about how to improve the quality of application materials,” Donato said.

Daw said she hopes the network may help combat the downturn in on-campus recruiting and job offers. “We’ve had fewer companies participate in on-campus recruiting. Fewer companies participated in job fairs. Companies might have a goal of recruiting fewer students,” she said.

The University will not know what effect the economy, and the University’s outreach efforts, will have on the graduating class until later this month. Each year in May, the University administers an exit survey to the graduating class.According to Michel, 40 percent of students typically do not have plans after graduation. He expects a larger number of students to not have plans this year.

Over the summer, CAPS will continue the e-mail strategy, basing their efforts on the data provided by outgoing students in the survey. Select alumni in regions and industries with large concentrations of students without plans will receive another e-mail from CAPS. “When a student goes out to LA for example, we will have already been in contact with that part of the country and built up job postings,” Marthe Druska, senior associate director of CAPS, said.

CAPS said they are responding to every alum communication, expanding the network of alumni support. “Everyone on staff is making connections and selling the talent base,” Druksa said.