Nationally, college students face difficult challenges as they begin job searches in today’s economic environment. While opportunities are certainly fewer and more difficult to find than in the past, there are job openings out there, and UNC Wilmington’s Career Center has created two new programs to assist students in finding those potential jobs and getting organized to make sure their job searches are effective and productive.
Over the past year, UNCW’s Career Center began the Jobs Project and Job Search Boot Camp, both in response to changing needs in the face of the economic downturn. Through the Jobs Project, Career Center Director Thom Rakes challenged each member of his 7-person staff of job counselors to find an additional 15 jobs and internships per week to post to the university’s online database. Counselors made cold calls to establish relationships with new companies, going to corporate web sites to search for jobs, and seeking out sites with niche job listings for particular industries.
“Most organizations that are hiring right now are small to mid-size firms, and these companies may not be on anyone’s radar in our office,” said Rakes. “We found ways to identify them so that our database includes a wider range of positions in both industry and geography. Students are willing to broaden their searches to find a job because they realize they have to.”
This academic year, the Career Center staff has added 3,722 new jobs into the database, a 100 percent increase over the previous year. Clearly students have taken notice, with database usage increasing to more than 77,000 student logins since July 2009 and more than 210,000 job postings viewed by those students.
After establishing these new, aggressive means to identify job and internship opportunities, Rakes and his staff wanted to make sure students were prepared to effectively market themselves, with well organized and written cover letters, strong interview skills and sound job search strategies. To assist with this, they now offer a Job Search Boot Camp each semester. Starting in spring 2009, the Boot Camp is a day-long drop-in event that allows students to come to the Career Center for immediate assistance in one of those three areas.
“The idea of a job search is always overwhelming, and it’s even more so right now,” said Rakes. “We reached out to students who have been putting off the things they need to do. We want them to know that, while it is a very challenging job market, there are things they can do to make themselves more marketable and we’re here to assist them. Students who have attended Boot Camp have said they felt so relieved, because they knew the first step or two they needed to take in the process. They just needed someone to help them get started.”
About 100 students have come to the Boot Camp each semester, while many more come in to the Career Center to see counselors by appointment or through drop-in hours every weekday afternoon. Rakes said the Career Center is likely to see even more students post-graduation, noting that the center’s services are available to both students and alumni at any time in their careers.
For further information, please contact:
Dana Fischetti , Media Relations Manager
Marketing and Communications
University of North Carolina Wilmington
Office: 910-962-7259; Cell: 910-508-3127