Despite launching a new online platform for career guidance services, the Loeb Center for Career Exploration and Planning has and continues to draw criticism from students seeking guidance in industries outside of business and finance.
The center’s new job recruitment platform, Handshake, allows students to sign up for appointments with industry advisers in seven fields: arts and communication, business and finance, education, government and non-profit, science and technology, health and law.
However, the availability of these appointments varies drastically by industry. While Handshake shows at least one, usually multiple business and finance slots available each day, other industries, like education, only have slots open two or three times a week. Overall, business and finance and health appointments are the most widely available, while government and nonprofit and law appointments are the least. There are six available slots in the entire month of October for government and nonprofit appointments. For appointments with a pre-law adviser, there are only three available slots for the rest of the semester.
Emily Griffen, director of the Loeb Center, noted that this disparity reflects the student demand for business and finance advising.
“The fact of the matter is that a very large percentage of our student body in relation to the other areas is pursuing finance and consulting,” she said. Last year, 37 percent of graduating seniors pursued careers in finance and consulting. In contrast, about 17 percent of seniors pursued education, and 3 percent of seniors pursued law.
Unlike other disciplines, which open their applications in the spring, the fall semester is the height of finance recruiting season, which requires the center to tailor its services heavily in that direction in the fall semester.
Finance culture and “the way recruiting works in this industry” adds to its perceived dominance on campus, according to Griffen. Since finance and consulting companies can afford to recruit directly on campus, their presence on campus makes the demand appear more visible, she said. The fact that students applying for jobs in business and finance are required to wear suits to interviews also adds a greater awareness of its presence on campus as well, Griffen added.
“The actual appointment blocks don’t tell the whole story,” she said.
Students whose schedules do not accommodate Handshake availabilities can privately email advisors for meetings, according to Griffen, although that information is not advertised on the Handshake website.
Though finance and consulting appear better resourced than other professional disciplines in the center, Griffen said that ample resources are available for students regardless of their interests.
All of the career advisers are full time, but not all of them focus solely on industry advising. Business and finance, arts and communications and education professions each have a full-time advisor, while health professions has two full-time advisors. But other fields, particularly those with the least availability in appointments, don’t have advisers working full-time on industry advising. The government and non-profit industry is overseen by Laura Litwiller, associate director of advising, who only spends a portion of her time on industry advising, and the pre-law adviser is currently remote and working part-time, though there is an ongoing search process to hire a full-time replacement.
The center is working on better supporting the government and nonprofit and law industries, Griffen said, noting that one component of the college’s Promise fundraising campaign includes increasing the number of full-time advisors in the center to meet student needs in these industries.
Despite these efforts, students noted the lack of resources available for their specific interests. Derek Schneider ’20, who went to the Loeb Center last year in search of biology research opportunities for the summer, felt that there was not enough guidance for his area of interest.
“When it came down to applying to these internships, I wanted support from the career center, but found that none of the Loeb advisors had any expertise in what I was interested in, [since] I was not applying to medical research programs,” Schneider said in an email interview.
After making an appointment with a generalist advisor instead, where only the grammar rather than the content of his resume was reviewed, Schneider ultimately relied on his academic advisor to help him apply for internships.
“I was very frustrated as I felt like I had no support from the career center in applying to my internships over the summer,” he said.
While Olivia Luntz ’21 found her appointments with a peer career advisor helpful, she also struggled to find internships in the nonprofit field.
“I spent a while looking through Quest, and it was frustrating because a lot of the internships on the website were finance-based,” she said. Ultimately, she was able to apply to four internships through the portal.
Jeremy Thomas ’21, who had a law internship this past summer, said that although his experience at the Loeb was not terrible, it could have been better.
“At the start of last year, I went to the pre-law advisor, and told her that I wanted to go to law school,” he said. “She more or less told me to take the LSAT and get good grades.”
In response to student concerns about resourcing, the center hired a communications director, Emily Klamm, last year in an attempt to better publicize its resources and opportunities through targeted emails, newsletters and advertising on the screens in Val.
“My plan is to know more about the students and what they want,” Klamm said. “If more students are saying that they’re interested in a certain industry that we don’t have a lot of employers come in for, we then use that information to then target them.”
Griffen echoed this sentiment, adding that the center is always looking for ways to make their resources accessible.
“We really want to make [our resources] more visible on campus,” she said. “We are always talking internally how do we better communicate that we have a range of resources that no matter what your career path is.”