Though the economy has restricted many college students from finding jobs, the Kansas University Career Center, led by director David Gaston, has not skipped a beat.
While fewer employers have come to campus looking for students to hire or posted jobs with Career Services, the department has spent more time focusing on how to best assist students and target their job searches.
“The biggest obstacle is making sure that we make our services available to students and employers and as efficient and as available as possible,” Gaston said.
Gaston said Career Services has been able to accommodate students even while losing one full-time position last year due to budget cuts.
“We do what we can and I’m not sure that we can say we do more but we just do what we can,” he said.
Gaston said Career Services is increasing awareness of its services throughout the KU campus. Gaston recently started hiring marketing interns and students to give a student’s perspective of what other students are looking for.
They also maintain a regularly updated Facebook page, an improved career services website with job postings and a calendar of events, and a large e-mail marketing campaign.
Gaston also said Career Services is taking steps to incorporate the Internet and other technologies to increase students’ marketability.
During the past year or two, the department has been trying to provide more educational opportunities for students as relates to online image through social networking websites like LinkedIn and Facebook.
Career Services also uses student written blogs and videos from current and past interns from companies across the country on its website.
These give first-hand accounts of the experience of being an intern and working for certain companies.
“It’s kind of a new world out there and those tools are becoming much more important in how you can find employment,” Gaston said.
While online image is an increasingly important aspect of marketability, Gaston said experience still remains what matters most. Whether it is an internship, part-time job during school or volunteer work, employers like to see if a potential employee can demonstrate the ability to be successful in a similar type of work environment after graduation.
“A lot of times when the employer’s making the decision on if they want to hire somebody or not, it’s all about the bottom line,” he said. “Are they going to bring in more value than the organization or company has to pay in return? You want to make that case as strong as you can.”
Gaston has worked in the career services industry for about 15 years. He started at KU more than six years ago.
Though he enjoys being able to help students, he said the ultimate fulfillment of his job comes from students he’s helped in the past coming back to help KU Career Services.
“The most gratifying thing is to see students who have come through and utilized our services that have gone out and found a successful job that really fits them and they come back and recruit students that we’re working with now,” he said. “They are trying to give back and really give a lot of support to the students we have now and the institution and realize that we made a difference in how they got to where they are.”