I had a meeting today that made me think of the changing role of college career development offices. Twenty years ago, before the internet, the career office was the one and only place you could go for connections to jobs.... save for the random cousin you had that your mom guilted into helping you. I'm sure every single student made it their business to walk through the doors of that career office...otherwise, you'd be hard pressed to find employment.
Today, things are different. I know plenty of students who never even set foot in a career office, and its not because they're lazy. In fact, quite the opposite. They're using a host of online tools available to them to connect to the right positions in a much more effective way than resume dropping.
Let's say I'm a student interested in a market internship. I go to Indeed, because Indeed has nearly every job listing there is on the net... from Monster, Careerbuilder, etc... down to individual jobs posted on corporate websites. I type in "Marketing internship" in "New York, NY."
The first job that comes up is this one:
Internship - Fall - International Marketing US-NY-New York RESPONSIBILITIES ... of consumer promotions in coordination with Marketing departmental staff
New York Times - 2 Days 21 Hours ago
Hmm... well, that's pretty good. I could drop a resume, but that's very impersonal and that's what everyone is going to do.
Instead, I'll see if I'm connected to that job somehow on LinkedIn.
I do a search for people who work for ESPN in the NYC Area. I find Sharon Otterman. She's the Vice President of Integrated Media & Market Planning. Since the job is working with the Marketing departmental staff, seems there's a good chance that she's either the right person to talk to or knows who that is.
Now we're getting somewhere.
But wait, what will I even talk to her about if I connect? I don't really know too much about sports marketing. Perhaps there's a blogger who works for ESPN.
Type in "ESPN Blogger" in Google:
Get this guy. Ok, so the post is old and now it appears that he now works for Foxsports Interactive Media, but still, he probably knows a lot about the industry. And look! Down at the bottom left, he's got his e-mail address right there. I could ask for an informational interview and talk to him about sports marketing... get his advice, insites, etc.
What about other sports marketing blogs?
I google for "sports marketing blog" and get this one. This is a branding blog with a whole category of interesting stories about sports marketing.
What about del.icio.us? Does del.icio.us have any good links on ESPN?
Well, most of the people tagging ESPN seem to be tagging the site itself as a bookmark, but look down at the bottom, its a link to a recent story in Wired:
The article is all about ESPN taking advantage of technology to be a ubiquitous sports presence on cell phones, the computer, tv, radio, etc. Interesting stuff. Certainly I should talk about some of this stuff when they ask me on the interview why I want to work for ESPN. Its definitely coverletter material as well. Nice job, del.icio.us community. I would have never found that just Googling "espn".
So, now I'll contact the Reemer guy for some insights by e-mail. I'll read the sports marketing posts and the Wired article. Then I'll use LinkedIn to connect to the interactive marketing woman regarding the job that was posted in the New York Times that Indeed found for me.
So, tell me, if I'm a student, what, then, do I use the the college career office for? Resume help? Interview help? Perhaps... but then that makes career planning more like an academic department than anything else, doesn' t it? It seems that, instead of actually doing the placing and connecting, they just need to do a lot of teaching.
So why don't they just get out of the "placement" end of their task entirely? Teach them how to use LinkedIn, how to use Indeed, how to blog professionally and read other relevent blogs and then let 'em free on the world, guns blazing. No more job fairs that don't get all the students or all the companies. No more maintaining a seperate job board specific to the school. The web connects better than a single office ever could... why would anyone try to compete with that? Its interesting that a lot of career offices are looking for ways to keep the students coming to their centralized web presence first, instead of focusing on getting them to create their own web presence via blogs and to comb the web for opportunities via vertical search, tags, RSS, social networks, etc.
The answer I hear a lot is that students don't know how to use these and they're too technical. Is that really a good answer if they work? Where are the courses on managing your online identity and using it to your benefit? Why aren't students flocking to linkedin? Why doesn't every career office in the country say, "Hey, to heck with this Monster thing, we get all those jobs on Indeed plus all the rest"? Ideas?