University / Employer Collaboration- A Necessary Partnership
Whether the economy is booming or just limping along, employer interaction with the students in our respective colleges and universities is important. Hiring for jobs, internships, and co-ops is of course important, but the collaboration needs to go much deeper. Many employers want to keep their names on the forefront of students’ minds when it comes to career searches, even if they are not hiring at that particular moment in time. Companies frequently look for experienced candidates, often accessible via our alumni networks. Helping to connect employers with students and alumni is a win for everyone involved. However- as with all things, developing programs and activities to support these initiatives takes time.
Most colleges and universities have a job board, so connecting employers to that resource is typically quite easy. Here are some additional ideas that can help bring employers together with students:
We all know that interviewing is a skill that needs to be practiced and honed. Many of us are fortunate enough to have relationships with employers who are willing to volunteer their time to conduct mock interviews with students so the students can improve their skills before any actual interviews. Not only does this benefit students; the employers also get their names out on campus.
Employers often have valuable feedback on how your students can improve (practicing certain interview questions, seeking internships, etc.). Openness to employer feedback can help you tailor programming to student needs, and provides some good fodder for discussion with faculty.
Employers are wonderful places for students to begin building their professional networks. Seek out employers to participate in networking events with students. This also gives them the opportunity to let students know first-hand the qualities they look for in a strong candidate.
Employer Information Sessions
As the years have gone by, the trend on many of our campuses has been decreased attendance at employer information sessions. However, employer panels and/ or employer presentations focused on a particular skill (e.g., interviewing or resume tips) typically do draw students.
Employer Site Visits
One trend some of us have seen is an increase in student participation in employer site visits. Students want to experience their potential work environments first-hand prior to deciding whether they want to apply for a position with a given organization.
Diverse Employer Connections
Collaborating with diverse employers can sometimes be a challenge. For example, many non-profit organizations have small numbers (if any) of recruiting staff. Arranging student connection to these groups can involve more outreach on the part of the career center versus connecting with some for-profit organizations that routinely hire entry-level students. Locating alumni at these other organizations can help immensely in making these connections.
Ultimately, there is no one ‘best’ way to bring students together with prospective employers, and the cultures at our respective campuses all differ. We work with numerous employers who seek our ‘best and brightest’ and look to us as a resource to connect them. Employer panels, networking nights, and other such events help in this respect, as we can accommodate multiple employers at once. Providing a variety of employer-student connection opportunities and remaining open to employer suggestions increases the likelihood that employers will want to team with your career center, thereby increasing opportunities for your students to pursue meaningful and challenging careers.
Annette Parisi is the Assistant Director for Employer Relations at Siena College’s Career Center. She can be reached at (518)783-2339 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.