Study: College graduates give mixed review on their experience with career services

Kiran Ramsey | Senior Design Editor

A Gallup study found 16 percent of respondents said career services at their career services offices are "very helpful" while the same percentage of respondents said the offices are "not at all helpful."

A recently study suggests that college graduates are divided on whether career services offices at universities are helpful.

The answers “very helpful” and “not at all helpful” each received 16 percent of votes in a Gallup poll. The poll — published in December 2016 — was part of the Gallup-Purdue Index, a three-year program that has interviewed over 70,000 college graduates.

The poll showed that 52 percent of college graduates were likely to have used their college’s career services department at least once during their college career. The study also found that 61 percent of graduates who received their degree after 2009 had visited their career services office, up from the 55 percent of graduates who utilized the department from 2000 through 2009.

Christopher Perrello, director of career services at the Syracuse University School of Information Studies, said in an email he believes one reason the poll might have returned low numbers with graduates being satisfied with their career services is the changing job market.

“Some employers are searching for more experienced candidates with more than just an undergraduate degree and a semester-long internship,” Perrello said. “(They want) job candidates who have the performance reviews and employment portfolio to back up their resume.”

Kelly Barnett, director of the career development center at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, said in an email that career services programs don’t advertise enough, which could have potentially impacted the study.

“Getting students’ attention and doing it in such a way that effectively communicates why career services should be made a priority is challenging,” Barnett said. “It can be difficult to stand out among the many other offices, programs, and individuals who are trying to get their attention.”

Syracuse’s career services departments also face a difficult challenge in trying to service a large number of students in a limited timeframe, she said.

Barnett said the career development center at Newhouse is small, so sometimes the office has prerequisites for students, such as having resumes finished early, so that one-on-one time with students is more productive.

There is still room for improvement in college career service departments, Perrello said.

“I truly believe that career services offices need to improve on equipping students with the tools for improving professional communication skills,” he said. “If career services offices collaborate with their campus communication and business departments, there can be a more holistic approach to improving career services,” he said.

The Gallup survey also indicated college graduates who rated their career services department as “very helpful” were nearly three times more likely to agree that their college education was worth the cost.

Perrello said that students need to commit to utilizing career services programs for all four years in college.

“When students wait until their junior, or even worse, their senior year to show up to career services, it is often already too late,” Perrello said. “Students should start immediately utilizing the services from day one on campus.”


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