I’ve had the pleasure of working with Dan Schawbel, founder of Millennial Branding, a Gen Y research and consulting firm, several times in the past year. A few months ago Dan’s company released a report, the College Career Center Study, which was completed with InternMatch, an online platform for companies to find and hire amazing students, and he introduced me to Nathan Parcells, founder and chief marketing officer of InternMatch.
I interviewed Parcells to discuss the finding of a study by two companies that showed how students rate their career service centers on how they are helping them find jobs, prepare for the working world and discovering the right career path. We discussed millennials’ satisfaction with career centers, what can be done to improve them and corporate leaders’ role.
Let’s talk about millennial employment. When young people are finishing their education, preparing to graduate, what resources are they turning to as they begin their search to start their careers?
Parcells: In our annual intern report we found that networking and Google search are the two biggest ways that students start their internship searches. Sixty-one percent of students use family networks to begin their search and 43 percent use Google. Furthermore, only 4 percent of students said they found their last internship at a career fair. Millennials are much more comfortable using online tools and social media to connect with employers than they are walking to their career center or going to career fairs (Source).
Our recent career fair study found even more data to support this. Ninety-four percent of students felt that career centers are essential, but 64 percent felt they were not effective at helping them find a job, and instead 83 percent wanted them to provide more social media updates. Students can now use free online services to do a majority of their job searching, and career centers need to shift focus to help students develop hard skills for the job market and think about their career path.
So why is it that college career centers are failing them? What are the centers offering and what should they be offering?
Parcells: Career centers are struggling for a number of reasons. For one, they are generally understaffed and underfinanced. The average ratio is 1,889 students to 1 career center official, which is not a lot of staff when you consider that career centers are in charge of advising students, drawing in employers, setting up career fairs and so much more.
One huge disconnect we found is that students are moving more and more online, and career centers need to adapt. Eighty-three percent of students said they wanted more social media updates. Many students nowadays don't want to go to career fairs but do want to read advice and content online, and career centers can facilitate that on social media. The No. 1 resource that students said they would like to get more of is interviewing help. In general we believe that with the large number of sites available for students to find internships, career centers should focus more on helping students learn how to navigate the professional world, interview and discover their career path, and less on generating job postings and hosting career fairs.
What’s the solution? Should the career centers change how they work with employers or work more closely with professors to make sure students have the skills necessary to fill available roles?
Parcells: In our most recent internship survey we found that students with paid internship experience are three times more likely to get a job offer than students with unpaid internship experience. In addition, students with three or more internships are two times as likely to get a job offer as students with just one internship.
Career centers should focus on helping students develop tactical skills to land paid internships. They should only work with employers that offer paid internships as those are the only roles that are proven to help students land jobs. Universities should invest more heavily in growing career center staff and budgets. And lastly, career centers should work to partner with leading technology sites that are making jobs and internships more accessible so that they can focus more on the advice side to give their students a leg up.Filed under: Leadership Development