By JACQUI NEBER
News & Features Editor
The Career Center has undergone numerous staffing and structural changes in the first month of this school year.
The University is currently searching for someone to replace the former director, Trudy Van Zee, who left the position last week.
To accommodate processes involved in running the center in the absence of a director.
“We have hired one person so far. Right now we have a total of four people working back there. We have a total of three counselors,” Hampton said. “That’s a big transition period to have those three for 6,000 students. My brother [who is not a Hopkins student] is now taking the position as a career coach counselor, so he’s not fully a counselor, but people make appointments with him.”
According to Hampton, Career Center employees are not rushing the search for a new director because they want to make sure they choose the right person for the job.
“We’re not in a rush to find someone quickly. We want someone who’s really going to put everything forward in this new job to make sure students get everything they need,” she said. “There’s a rush in a sense to help students, so we want to make sure we choose the perfect person.”
Hampton also emphasized the increased amount of work employees have taken on as a result of these changes.
“In the center we have one person running Handshake, another person communicating with employees and employers, and it’s very small. So it’s a lot of work — all the people in there have been staying till 8 o’clock, 9 o’clock at night.”
Part of Hampton’s responsibilities include handling peer assistance drop-in appointments in which she is qualified to read student resumes and give advice. She and other student employees stepped into this role because there are fewer counselors at the center. She explained that peer assistance sessions would often run back-to-back for hours and she wouldn’t have enough time to help individual students in the best way.
“They’d be very frustrated because they just met with like a 19-year-old person,” she said.
Vice Provost for Student Affairs Kevin G. Shollenberger commented on recent changes within the Career Center.
“We’re expanding the Career Center. We’re in the process right now of hiring on a number of levels. We’ve been expanding the employee outreach team, and we’re moving from a model of individual counseling to also doing more of what we’re calling career academies,” Shollenberger said. “We’re setting up workshops and programs based on different fields of interests.”
Shollenberger commented on Trudy Van Zee recently leaving post as director.
“Trudy Van Zee has transitioned out of her role,” he said. We’ll be doing a search for the director.”
Dean of Academic and Student Services Andy Wilson, Interim Director of Student Talent Development Emily Calderone and Director of Employee Relations Monica Butta responded to several questions about the restructuring of the Career Center, staff and policy changes.
There are two separate parts of the Career Center: the student side and the employer side. This year the center will bring in specialists aligned with certain industries to connect to employees that are considered a good fit for Hopkins students.
Wilson explained some of the reasoning behind this restructuring.
“There was an exhaustive review of the Career Center. By looking at what students want, what alumni want, what faculty are interested in, from that we discovered… that industry expertise is a must-have, that our one-on-one counseling model was serving a few well but wasn’t serving as many students as we could,” Wilson said. “Our faculty members wanted more and better internships, and employers gave us feedback that the career readiness for our students needed to marry the business practices more overall. From that review emerged a model that we are starting to implement.”
Components of the model include a career preparation component in which groups of students will be led by Career Center staff and focus on specific industries and their resources. The center’s employer side is also going to focus on partnering with local employers that Wilson called “core” employers.
Butta explained the value of career academies.
“If you can think of the academies as communities of learners of students alumni and employers who are all interested in the same industry… we connect them to make sure students are getting the skills they need,” Butta said.
According to Butta, this restructuring is a proactive attempt to get Hopkins up to or past the level of peer institutions like Harvard University and Stanford University.
“We want to be known as, ‘Oh, you go to Hopkins,’” Butta said.
On the topic of Van Zee’s absence, Wilson, Butta and Calderone mentioned that they themselves are working in place of a director.
“We are working to fill those particular positions. We are in the midst of the search for academy leads as well as an Executive Director,” Wilson said.
Wilson explained that they are conducting a nationwide search for a new director.
“We want to make sure that the successful candidate someone who can help us implement the model,” Wilson said.
Butta described the way in which the center is approaching the search.
“We are approaching it in the typical Hopkins way — we are being thoughtful and purposeful,” she said.
Calderone explained the reason behind the transition from JConnect to Handshake. They said the new model will be more user-friendly and decrease the risk of fraudulent employer offerings.
“It was very easy for fraudulent postings to get into the system and really affect students,” Calderone said. “And I know that the way Handshake operates, there is a much greater ability to monitor the postings so that students are not being subjected to postings that are not appropriate for their long-term career goals.”
However, students do not seem to be as satisfied with Handshake. Senior Agastya Mondal said he is dissatisfied with the new system and worried about finding a job.
“I am frustrated as a senior looking for jobs because I think an institution like Hopkins should have more resources in place to help seniors find jobs,” Mondal wrote in an email to The News-Letter. “There seems to be a serious lack of communication between the Career Center and various departments that ensure students are getting the most of out these resources and I think they’re ultimately suffering because of it.”
Calderone, Butta and Wilson emphasized that despite recent upheavals and opportunities for frustration among employees, the Career Center is still working to provide students with the optimal experience.
“This is a time of change and we’re very excited about it, but with that probably does come some possibilities for miscommunication,” Wilson said. “We’re trying to resolve that by just having regular contact with [each other] and I think that’s really worked well for us.”
According to Butta, every staff member has a clear idea of their role at the Center and what they can do to best implement the new model. She emphasized that the changes made to the structure of the center will help Hopkins move into the same stratosphere as peer institutions in this respect.
“One of the great things about that direction we’re moving in is that it puts us right up with Stanford and Chicago, the people we really consider our peers that moved to these systems a long time ago,” Butta said.
Essentially, Calderone said, this is an attempt to bring Hopkins into the Top 10 (U.S. News & World Report ranking) in every aspect.
“We do our annual satisfaction survey every year and our satisfaction ratings from students were not as high as they could’ve been. And it was frustrating under the old model to spend a lot of time with a small number of students, getting them up and running for their post collegiate life,”
Calderone said. “And I think one of the things with the new model is the ability to really diversify the type of student we bring into the office.”
Calderone emphasized that students will no longer view the Career Center as an institution that only services certain types of Hopkins students.
“I think that was really to our detriment overall. Our mission is to serve every student fully to go on and achieve more after they graduate,” Calderone said. “The ability of the academy model [gives] us the opportunity to touch more students and get more out into the student population rather than waiting for students to come to us. It’s really new and exciting and has invigorated the student side of the center.”