Vita Dadoo Lomeli
In June, the Center for Career Development released its annual Career Outcomes Report for the Class of 2014, indicating the highest number of graduates employed six months after graduation in the last five years. The report re- vealed that 75.8% of the 465 students in the grad- uating class are employed, interning or complet- ing military or volunteer service. In response to the college’s postgraduate employment success, the Center for Career Development is currently undergoing some critical changes.
“What are your goals? What are the places you want to go to?” These are the first questions Jeff Kniple, Associate Director for Employer Re- lations for the Center, asks every student who steps in for an advisory session. According to Kniple, the Center’s goal is to find where the student’s interests and skills collide and, as a result, identify possible careers for the student. As of last year, 70% of students in each class visited the Center for various reasons, including advising, career placement and resumé building.
In years past, the Center has successfully paired students with jobs. Additionally, it has provided the groundwork for career building through a series of workshops, information ses- sions, and the use of digital platforms.
In July, the Center announced its migra- tion from WildcatLink to a new platform called Handshake. Currently, Handshake caters to over 100,000 students, 2,000 employers, and 55 schools in the country.
In comparison to WildcatLink, Handshake operates with similar technology to Google and LinkedIn, in that it personalizes job searches based on students’ interests and search histo- ries. Students complete a profile, which includes personal information and a resume that can be accessed by prospective employers. Further, Handshake allows employers to view students’ visa and citizenship statuses. This allows both students and employers to track the options that are best suited for their interests and to immedi- ately know whether or not companies are will- ing to work with foreign students. Through the new interface, the Center has begun to post job applications and information sessions, as well as advertise workshops.
The most beneficial aspect of Handshake, Kniple remarks, is its partnership with other highly recognized institutions, including The University of Michigan, Stanford and Cornell. Davidson, in sharing this platform with other universities, can forge relations with a wide va- riety of employers. “Employers have a relation- ship with Cornell,” Kniple explained, “and, now, with a couple of clicks they can send the same job posting to Davidson.” Since Handshake launched on campus in July, 700 companies have joined Davidson’s network, and the College is now con- necting with 10 to 25 companies every day, twice as many connections as Davidson was making through WildcatLink. “With WildcatLink we had a stagnant group,” Kniple remarked.
The Center’s introduction of a new job- searching digital platform resonates with the Col- lege’s desire to increase its exposure to the outside world. “There are many ways in which Davidson has raised its exposure in recent years, but I think certainly it helps for the companies that hear of us to have an easy way of connecting with us,” Kniple added. Although Davidson is a new mem- ber of the platform, Kniple expects the College’s network to continue to grow rapidly.
With the introduction of Handshake and the upcoming departure of Nathan Elton, current director of the Center, the Center is expecting a busy year ahead. For the upcoming semester, Tom Shandley, Dean of Students, has planned a national search for new a full-time director. In the meantime, Kniple will step-up as the interim director. The Center has also created a new position, Assistant Director for Alumni and Parent Engagement, to handle additional staff responsi- bilities in light of Elton’s absence. Kniple hopes to maintain the Center’s same level of success and exposure for the upcoming school year.
In expanding its employer network, David- son will strengthen its presence in the job mar- ket and allow students to have a wider variety of choices and opportunities. Although the technological changes in the Center guarantee greater exposure, Kniple reminds us that “the best ambassadors we have are our students.”