When Carolyn Zabrycki ’04 went to Undergraduate Career Services, she was hoping for specifics. She was looking for internships in publishing, government service or law, and she wanted advice on particular companies or organizations that she could look into. But when she had her appointment, Zabrycki was disappointed that the counselor referred her to Web sites instead of giving her specific guidance.
“If you want [UCS] to help you write a resume or cover letter, they’re extremely helpful,” Zabrycki said. “If you want them to help you find a job, they’ll show you the intern center on the web — which is not that helpful.”
UCS has been trying to better serve students by assigning fields of specialty to every career counselor. At the same time, each counselor is supposed to be a “generalist,” able to help any students with careers and internships in any area. But students like Zabrycki say they cannot get the specific advice they want because UCS does not necessarily schedule their appointments with counselors who specialize in their areas of interest.
UCS Deputy Director Priscilla Case said a system that more closely matched counselors with students according to career interests would make scheduling difficult.
Philip Jones, the director of UCS, said the dual specialization-generalist system was set up to help both those students who are interested in particular fields and those who have many interests.
“If we were all just specialists and a student comes in and says, ‘I don’t know what I want to do,’ how would we assist them?” Jones said. “Similarly, if someone comes in and says, ‘I’m interested in teaching but may want to go into consulting if I knew more about it’ — who is the best person for them to see?”
Counselors sometimes refer students to the appropriate specialist after their first appointment, Jones said.
Jones said that before he became director in 1999, UCS counselors primarily had expertise in banking, consulting, medicine and law. Upon his arrival Jones began to assign new areas of focus, Case said. This year UCS added specializations in sports careers, education, advertising, publishing, science and engineering, said Case, who concentrates on government and non-profit jobs.
Jones said the primary purpose of the specialization system is for the counselors to teach each other about specific fields at their staff meetings.
“There is too much out there for us to be researching and learning about all of it,” he said.
Denise Ong ’04 knew she was interested in science and technology internships but didn’t know exactly what kind of job she wanted. She said her meeting with UCS counselor Jennifer Faler was useful, even though Faler focuses on education, consulting and banking.
“[Faler] was really helpful and told me she had a couple of links, so she took down my e-mail address and sent them to me,” Ong said.
Kyra Chadbourne ’04, who said she knows she wants to go to dental school, said Joni Huff — who specializes in health careers — gave her the kind of specific advice she was seeking. Chadbourne said Huff gave her a copy of an old achievement test for dental school admission.
Zabrycki eventually found internships she wanted to apply to, but she said UCS could have saved her a lot of time if the counselor she met with had known about particular opportunities.
“I found some publishing houses that have some really strong internships and I wish [the counselor] would have been able to tell me about that instead of having to spend hours doing random Google searches,” Zabrycki said.