Editorial: Tufts Career Center has room for improvement

College students are painfully aware of how much more difficult it is to get a job now compared to during our parents’ generation. Automation and mechanization mean that jobs lost in recessions often become extinct, while increasing global competition leads to a demand for higher-skilled people. This difficult environment has permeated the undergraduate sphere, with increasing importance placed on internships as a key step to finding a job: 69 percent of medium and large companies in 2012 offered full-time positions to their interns, according to one survey. In a job market such as this, where connections, ambition and skills are crucial to getting a job offer, career services offered by colleges and universities play an important role in ensuring employment for graduates.

These data suggest that Tufts students, however, do not have a strong relationship with the Career Center. A senior survey released in 2016 showed that fewer than half of Tufts students visited the Career Center throughout their entire four years at Tufts. Yet this does not mean that Tufts students are failing to get jobs or internships. At the time of the survey, of those who graduated in 2016, 91 percent had a full-time job, were pursuing a fellowship or were enrolled in graduate school within six months of graduation. Furthermore, 89 percent of these same graduating seniors completed at least one internship while at Tufts.

The issue is not that Tufts students are not prepared to enter the job market; it is that many students enter it without much help from the Career Center. More specifically, only 42 percent of seniors graduating in 2016 found their jobs through the Career Center.

The importance of networking, and specifically of alumni network, is highly recognized throughout the country. The plurality of the Tufts 2016 graduating class stated that they found their job through networking. The Tufts Career Center does hold various networking nights with high profile alumni — the CFO of Morgan Stanley comes to mind — to connect students.

Yet it is impossible for the center to have a group for every career interest — some will invariably be left out, especially those not interested in consulting, technology or finance, which the Career Center has been accused of favoring.

This bias becomes clearer when examining the career advisors; there are two specifically geared towards finance and consulting, larger than any other group. Perhaps this would be understandable if these careers were the most popular among Tufts students. Yet over the past three years (2014, 2015, 2016), the number of graduates entering finance and consulting has decreased to a point where it is now trailing engineering and technology (which only has one designated advisor) and is about even with the healthcare/medicine, research and environmental field (no designated advisors).  

This bias prevents students in different fields from accessing specialized resources on their career paths, and while the Career Center may not offer them, Tufts’ alumni network may.

The largest opportunity for this (in terms of group size) that is mentioned on the Career Center’s webpage is the Tufts Career Networking Group, a LinkedIn group with upwards of 7,000 members. This is not particularly conducive to one-on-one exchanges — the most recent post at the time of this editorial had zero likes or comments. More troubling is that the Tufts Online Community, which has the emails of thousands of former alumni, is not listed anywhere on the site. 

However, it must be acknowledged that the Career Center is improving. Over this past summer, it launched Handshake to replace Jumbo Jobs. This was a much-awaited change that provides a friendlier user interface and a consolidated site for all things jobs, internships and career events.

Additionally, the addition of the Career Fellows program is a useful step in making Career Center resources more available by creating more drop-in areas across campus and increasing the hours for résumé reviews and job search strategies.

While these are significant steps forward for the Career Center, there are other changes it should make, such as better representing certain industries and emphasizing the Tufts alumni database, that would enable it to better serve the Tufts community.