April 26, 2010

New Website Connects Students with Employers

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Grads2biz, an employment resource site for college students entering the workforce, was launched five weeks ago, and has begun attracting college students as they search for jobs and internships. Unlike other job-placement sites, Grads2biz enables current students from selected universities with a 3.2-minimum GPA to create profiles on the database, and it tries to target Forbes 500 companies at which students may find jobs and internships.However, Cornell’s career services office has not yet endorsed the website. Among several issues cited by Rebecca Sparrow, director of Cornell’s career services office, were Grads2biz’s exclusion of students from four of Cornell’s seven undergraduate schools from creating profiles. The website also asks students for their gender, which may enable discriminatory practices by employers, Sparrow said.Sparrow recommended using the many employment websites and other resources that the career services office has vetted and approved.But Grads2biz seems to be gaining popularity. The website was created by Alexander Mayer, a junior at the University of Wisconsin. Mayer’s family, which owns Mayer Search Inc., has worked on job placement for established professionals for decades. “Our [Forbes 500] clients came to us saying we’d like to see entry level kids [join our force],” Judith Mayer, Alexander’s mother, said. “What we’re learning is that there’s a need to be met with an undergraduate market that will be funneling into the workplace more than [it has] previously,” she said.On the Grads2biz site, students create profiles that display their GPA, majors, extra-curricular and employment experience, clubs and college memberships, employment or internship preference, and the date at which they can begin work. The site also allows students to upload photos of themselves on their profiles. Grads2biz emerged after five years of beta testing and focus group discussions with university-enrolled students in 32 states. In speaking with students, Grads2biz’s developers said they found there was general dissatisfaction in the job placement process.“[In this job climate,] kids need extra support competing with the best and brightest in a smaller opportunity pool,” Judith Mayer said. “When we did focus groups for Ivy schools, [the students] said they felt like they were standing in line waiting for help from career services offices.”Cornell’s Career Service Office encourages students to use additional resources outside of those provided at Cornell to enhance their job and internship searches.But after looking over the Grads2biz website, Sparrow, director of the career services office, explained that it would not be a site endorsed by Career Services. On its website, Grads2biz claims, “Schools are included based upon their excellence in particular divisions such as business, engineering and agricultural science.” However, Grads2biz excludes students from four of Cornell’s seven undergraduate schools — the Hotel School, the School of Industrial and Labor Relations, the College of Architecture, Art and Planning and the College of Human Ecology — from creating profiles.“That would be a reason that we would not link to that site from our site, because we would not promote a service that discriminates from some of our students,” Sparrow said.Sparrow also said she found the site problematic for other reasons.Grads2biz does not allow students to cancel or remove their profiles. It also contains blatant grammatical errors, and Sparrow is hesitant of certain unique aspects of the student profiles that ask for students to include their gender and allow students the option of uploading photographs of themselves. “In the world of recruiting, these aren’t good policies because that allows the employer the possibility of discriminatory practice even if that’s not what they intend to happen,” she said.Sparrow said the career services office is conscious of the proliferation of sites like Grads2biz, and actively incorporates links to useful resources into its list of collaborated job-search aids.“We link to a lot of sites from our web pages,” she said. “The advantage of going to the sites that we link to is that staff from Cornell have vetted those sites. They’ve really taken a look and will say it’s worth your time to spend some time [there].”Sparrow, however, believes the career services office should be hesitant about endorsing sites. “The Internet is wonderful in putting so much information at your disposal, but it also puts so much that it’s hard to know what to pay attention to,” she said. “My point of view is to find the strongest websites and the strongest web based services that we can offer services as a compliment to what we do in person.”With the large number of job-finding website, students seem uncertain of individual sites’ effectiveness. “[Grads2biz] seems like a good idea, but I feel like it is just another website in a mix of many,” Colin Murphy ’11 said, mentioning LinkedIn as a better-known resource.Laura Miller ’10 found her job at the NBC Page Program through networking and the Cornell Career Services office. In her job-hunting process, Miller submitted resumes directly through companies’ websites and submitted resumes to companies through Cornell for interviews at the Central New York Communications Consortium, a job search forum.Miller did not consider submitting her resume or a profile to a job-finding site. “I don’t know anyone who’s done that, so I don’t know how useful or successful that would be,” she said.In his internship search, Murphy has used resources from Cornell’s Career Services site, but has not considered creating a profile on an employment-finding site. “A concern that arises with me in regards to networking sites is whether major companies are utilizing them or not, and which major companies are utilizing which sites,” he said.

Original Author: Isabel Eckstein