October 23, 2011

Letter to the Editor: In defense of Career Services

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To the Editor: Re: “Surrounded by Spineless Seniors,” Opinion, Oct. 17The recent article “Surrounded by Spineless Seniors” suggests abolishing Cornell Career Services because it “perpetuate[s] the sense that we must choose between the corporate world and unemployment.” It would be a sad and ironic consequence if this article discouraged students interested in non-corporate careers from seeking all the help that Career Services can offer.Cornell Career Services offers an array of opportunities for students exploring all types of careers. I’ll give just a few examples. First of all, Cornell sponsors a Nonprofit and Government Career Fair every spring to connect our students with chances to fulfill what the author calls “a wish to put their educations to use on the side of those less-fortunate.” The Extern program allows students to shadow alumni in fields from museum curation to social work to government agencies like the EPA. Out of 405 extern opportunities, only 10 are listed under the heading “Banking, Finance, Business.” In addition, generous alumni donations fund the Blumenthal internship program, which provides paid summer work at nonprofits that serve children, adolescents, and families. Through these programs and many more, Career Services attends to the needs of students who aren’t planning to enter the corporate world.Perhaps even more important than these special programs are the services that Career Services provides day in and day out. University-wide Career Services in Barnes Hall boasts a specialty advisor dedicated to students seeking non-profit, government, teaching and environmental careers. Beyond Barnes Hall, each college’s career office provides services to help students succeed. As an employee of the Arts and Sciences Career Services Office, I’m best acquainted with our offerings. We provide personalized, hour-long career counseling appointments that help students evaluate what careers might match their personal skills, interests, and personalities — without ever presuming to tell them what to do. We also regularly bring successful alumni to campus for career conversations with students. Recently featured alumni have been involved in a nonprofit serving ex-convicts, City Year, a TV production and a children’s hospital. Finally, both our website and our career library in G55 Goldwin Smith include carefully researched resources for all career interests.As for the author’s contentions about on-campus recruiting and “fancy schmooze sessions,” it is simply a fact that the companies that recruit on-campus tend to be the bigger ones with more money to spend. What’s more, the discrepancy between the fall recruitment schedule for banking, consulting, and finance and the spring recruitment cycle prevalent in other industries is a reality outside the control of Cornell Career Services.At Cornell Career Services we’re not in the business of creating what the author calls corporate “sheep.” We’re in the business of serving students’ needs and connecting them with the careers they want — corporate or otherwise. We know you’re not sheep. Stop by our office and we’ll ask, “How can we help you?” not, “How can we herd you?”  Liz Soltan ’12, Student Employee, Arts and Sciences Career Services Office