What do Students Want from the Center for Career and Professional Advising? More Connections!

It is difficult to walk into a Haverford building and not see a flyer for a Center for Career and Professional Advising (CCPA) event.

“The CCPA is super active,” Kelly Waycoff ‘18 said, reflecting on the Center’s strengths. “I’m always getting emails and getting contacted from them.” The Center’s staff, whose office resides in the third floor of Stokes, regularly sends out emails to students about job opportunities and network building events with Haverford alumni.

“Our mission is to help students explore career ideas and so we try to get students to be aware of us,” Dean of the College and Director of Career Services Amy Feifer explains. As a result, the Center is constantly brainstorming different ways to reach the community about their events–which include job fairs and visiting alums.

In general, the CCPA’s attempts to reach students have paid off: according to CCPA internal statistics, last year 51% of Haverford students utilized the more personal services of the center, including one-on-one advising sessions, emails, and workshops. Furthermore, more than 80% of the student body engaged with the CCPA in some manner, whether it be through a job fair, an alumni meet-up, or through companies visiting to recruit students.

That said, Feifer still feels that students are unaware of many of services the CCPA offers.

“I am always surprised that students don’t know about some of our signature programs like the extern program, or our interview coach program where a student can apply to be paired with an alum to do mock interviews.” Feifer’s personal goal would be that every Haverford student does at least one externship–where a student shadows an alum for a week–during their four years. Externship programs run during both Winter and Spring breaks and provide shadowing opportunities in most career sectors including law, business, non-profit, and scientific research.

By and large, the students I interviewed are appreciative of the CCPA’s services and the effort exerted by the office. That is not to say, however, that the Center is perfect: many are hesitant that the Center can adequately assist students in their job search.

“Last semester while I preparing for my job search, I  regularly submitted my resume and cover letter” to the CCPA, said Chelsea Richardson ‘18.  Richardson said that she feels grateful for the help she received during her first semester of senior year, but she also wishes the Center knew more about the non-profit sector.

“They are good at providing feedback on the resumes and cover letters, but I think one of their problems is the lack of specific knowledge about public interest fields; most of their advice is geared towards the corporate, tech and financial sectors,” she said.

Pranav Krishnan ‘21 concurs with Richardson saying,  “I think that what the CCPA does in their attempts to help students find internships. They do a good job of helping students find where they want to be especially their personal services like resume editing.”

However, Krishnan echoes the concerns of Richardson, and many others around campus about the lack of CCPA’s specific connections to fields: “We don’t really have campus recruiting services like Rutgers, Penn, etc so finding a job at big name companies can be difficult.”

Feifer recognizes students’ concerns about the lack of recruiting.

“We try to facilitate connections, but some firms definitely have target schools that they select to have a relationship with,” she said. “Sometimes it is the size of the school, sometimes it is the kind of school, so some of the firms that some of the students would want us to be a target school for we are not. But where we counterbalance that is we do a lot with Bryn Mawr and Swarthmore to reach out because it is our numbers times three! Also we are are always working to get students informal, and formal, connections with alums.”

A step in the right direction was moving to Handshake, a new platform to find jobs. The site is widely lauded by students for being easier to manage than Career Connect, the previous system used by Haverford.

“Handshake is something that is relatively new but from what I’ve heard from other students the introduction of that system has expanded students abilities to find jobs try different things in different career areas,” said Krishnan.

However, not every student feels supported by the Center. For students unsure of their career path, many are suspicious of the CCPA.

“I think the idea of going in and meeting with them one on one is very intimidating, especially since I’m in a position where I don’t really know what I want,” said Waycoff.

Hasibe Caballero-Gomez ‘21 touched on a similar vein saying, “I think they can help planning wise if there’s a specific career you have in mind they can give you an idea of what you need to get there.” When asked if she felt supported by the CCPA, Caballero-Gomez was unsure.

In fact, over the past two weeks, I’ve talked to many other students (who requested not to be quoted) who held a similar sentiment: that the CCPA seems inaccessible for students with no clue about what job field they would like to enter.

Other students also said that the CCPA also struggles to accommodate international students. While the CCPA does pen a different international student newsletter, and teaches international students how to filter for jobs on Handshake, on the whole–especially surrounding creating connections with international alums–international students do not feel that their needs are being met.

“I wish the CCPA would sit international students down and tell us these are the list of directories that accept international students and here is a list of international alums,” said Victoria Merino ‘20. After pausing for a brief moment, she continued, “I just feel like there is very little connections between international students and international alums.”

Merino acknowledges that the lack of accessibility at the CCPA is a reflection of a larger problem surrounding the minimal resources for international students on campus. Furthermore, beyond the scope of Haverford, finding jobs as an international student in America due to stringent immigration laws can be challenging.

She added: “It is not about whether or not it is the CCPA’s fault–because it is not–it is about whether or not they can find a way to make up for the fact that there aren’t that many internships for international students.”

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