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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Career Center launches “Engagement Wanted” to help graduating seniors

<rleton seniors can rest easier thanks to a recent program deemed, “Engagement Wanted.” Developed by the Career Center, the program provides the Class of 2009 with a new, interactive form of job-hunting in a job-stripped economy.

“We found ourselves thinking, ‘We’re not doing enough to help seniors in this climate,’” Career Center Director Richard Berman said.

So in February, the Career Center teamed up with the Alumni Affairs Office and the Web Services Group to create a convenient, more effective way for seniors to be in touch with alumni and parents of current Carleton students. At that point, roughly half of the 504 graduating seniors had not yet secured engagements upon graduation. The end result of the meetings—an e-mail containing profiles of five randomly selected seniors, sent every Friday to enrolled alumni and parents—came to fruition less than two months later, with the first round of e-mails sent out last Friday.

Getting to this point, though, involved a lot of planning in a short amount of time. Upon deciding to create a mass e-mail system (an original idea to put seniors’ profiles on a website which alumni and parents could search was scratched due to time restraints), Alumni Affairs set to work contacting all Carleton alums plus current parents, while Web Services devised technical plans for the content and distribution of the e-mails.

“They went out of their way to help us help seniors,” Brent Nystrom, Associate Director of the Career Center, said, adding that the desire to help students “kept fueling their work.”

The Alumni Board of Directors sent its “Call to Action” e-mail the afternoon of March 20, asking alumni and parents to sign up to receive e-mails and help seniors with “advice, opportunities or networking referrals.” The first few hours saw one hundred people signing up every twenty minutes. As of Monday morning, the e-mail list had 1,200 names, and that number continues to rise.

On the other side of the endeavor, the Class of 2009 received an e-mail over spring break encouraging them to submit a profile of 500 characters or less “describing [themselves] and the opportunities [they’re] seeking,” as well as a photo and list of interests.

A deadline of last Thursday at midnight was set for inclusion in the first round of e-mails, and over one hundred students attended a profile-writing session that evening hosted by the Write Place. Berman described the goal of writing a profile as achieving the right balance between professional language employers would expect and more “Carletonized” language showing the personality of the college. As of Thursday afternoon, 65 students had submitted profiles; by early Friday morning, the number climbed to 215.

Responses to the program have so far been pleasant, with alum describing it as convenient, taking only five minutes of their time once a week, and accessible, put right in front of them rather than on a website. One enrolled volunteer went so far as to create a position specifically in order to hire a Carleton grad, while another posted profiles (stripped of contact information) from Friday’s e-mail on her Facebook page for friends and possible networking contacts to see.

With the program’s conception only two months ago, it is difficult to imagine all of its possibilities. Students have used their profiles to search not only for jobs, but also for housing, networking and people to meet up with as they begin work in unknown areas of the country.

“I think people just took it and ran with it,” Nystrom said. “They didn’t really need us [the Career Center].”

This, according to Berman, was a main goal. “With the short time frame, the more we could set something up and get out of the way, the better,” he said. “It’s a community-oriented initiative. It’s not about the Career Center at all.”

Because of this, the Career Center has received a relatively low amount of feedback. Volunteers are asked to contact students who have sparked their interest directly, effectively removing the Career Center’s role as a go-between. In a way, Berman said, this could be considered one area in which to criticize the program: it inverts the usual job-hunting path. Instead of students seeking out alumni for positions, alumni simply browse the five profiles they receive each week and then seek out students. Thus, “The single most important thing on the student side is to be responsive.”

He stressed the fact that the endeavor is called “Engagement Wanted 1.0,” meaning it is the first version. The Career Center will continue to review the process as it moves forward, already looking for ways to improve, including allowing subscribers to receive a more specific set of profiles each week (as opposed to the random ones they receive now) and considering opening the senior-end of the program to ’07 and ’08 graduates who have expressed interest.

Students and volunteers alike can opt out of the program at any time, and it is still available for anyone wishing to enroll. More information and enrollment forms can be found at

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