To enhance its accessibility, the Office of Career Strategy is expanding both its walk-in hours and online resources for undergraduates.
This year, for the first time, all undergraduate students can submit either a resume or a cover letter to the office — which was known as the Undergraduate Career Services until a name change in mid-August — for review. Within five business days, the office will return students their documents with comments from one of the office’s 11 career advisors. In addition, the office has doubled its daily open hours. Each day from 10 to 4 p.m., two UCS advisors will be present in the office to answer students’ questions during 15-minute walk-in sessions. Last year, the office hosted open hours from 1–4 p.m.
“One of my core priorities as director has been to make the necessary career resources available to students whenever they need it. I think both these moves are a step in that direction,” said Jeanine Dames, OCS director and associate dean of Yale College.
These new initiatives come at a time when the University is centralizing its career services. OCS now serves not only undergraduates, but also students from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.
Dames said she is excited by the online resume and cover letter submission system because it will make OCS accessible for the first time to select groups of students.
“Now that we’re also catering to graduate students, we have to realize that a lot of these students aren’t on campus or are actually doing research in the field during the school year,” she said.
She added that the digitalization of career resources will ensure these students can still solicit guidance even when they are not in New Haven.
Kenneth Koopmans, director of employment programs and deputy director of OCS, echoed Dames’ sentiment, adding that other groups such as undergraduates who are studying abroad or alumni can similarly benefit from the new initiatives.
Both Koopmans and Dames said the online resume and cover letter system actually saves the office time because advisors often need fewer than the allocated 15 minutes to evaluate a student’s resume and cover letter.
Since the office introduced the online resume and cover letter checking system at the beginning of September, Koopmans said the types of conversations advisors are having during the open hour sessions are changing.
“Students used to come to the walk-in sessions with a resume in hand and we’d just run through it,” he said.
Now, it is increasingly frequent for advisors to have more nuanced conversations with students about exploring different careers or what majors to consider, he said. Because many students consider OCS — which is located on 55 Whitney Ave. — distant from the heart of campus, Koopmans said he especially hopes that more students who live far away from the office will use its digital services.
As the office’s technological capabilities grow, Dames said the office will increasingly look to digitalize the more formulaic aspects of career services and reserve face-to-face time for more holistic conversations.
Both Dames and Koopmans said the office introduced morning walk-in hours this September to make OCS accessible for students whose extracurricular or academic commitments often make it difficult for them to attend walk-in hours. Koopmans said anecdotal evidence suggests students who major in one of the sciences, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines or are on an athletic team have the most difficult schedules for attending afternoon advising sessions.
Still, four of five upperclassmen interviewed did not know about OCS’s online resume check system and all five students did not know OCS’s walk-in hours were any different from last year. But all students said they supported these efforts and expressed similar hope that the extended walk-in hours would lessen waiting times and be more convenient for students with challenging schedules.
Attila Yaman ’16 said that as a soccer player, it is difficult for him to utilize OCS’s resources in the afternoon because his practices are frequently scheduled then. Because walk-in appointments are on a first-come, first-serve basis, he added that it did not make sense for him to risk being late to practice and not even have the chance to get the help he needed.
Clare Curran ’15, who has already used both the online service and the office’s expanded office hours, said she found the advisor’s in-person comments significantly more helpful than the notes she received when she submitted her resume online for advice.
“I’d probably still want to see someone in person for my resume because that’s a very important document to get right,” said Eun Sung Yang ’14, a second-semester senior.
It is more likely that she’ll use the online submissions system for specific cover letters, she added.
Mao Shihui ’15 said she found the digital feedback for her resume helpful. Although she is pleased with the progress OCS has made in becoming more helpful for students, she said she hopes the office will listen to the main criticism it has received from students for being too focused on finance and consulting. Although she said this is ideal for her because she wants to work on Wall Street, Shihui said many of her friends complain that there are not as many jobs in other industries such as journalism or nonprofit work.
According to internal data compiled by OCS, 302 students have visited the office in the first five weeks of this year, roughly a 50 percent surge from the first five weeks of last year, when 202 students met with an advisor.
Koopmans said the office is tracking the data carefully to ensure that the office is well equipped to handle student demand. Both Dames and Koopmans said OCS will request more resources from the University if it becomes clear the office cannot adequately address the needs of the rising number of students that are seeking its services.
“Although we’re monitoring the numbers very carefully, I think we need to collect more data before we conclude whether this growth will continue through the year,” he said.
Dames said she is looking to publicize these moves by working with the athletic department and spreading the message through a meeting with team captains in the near future.
During the first five weeks of 2012, 236 students met with an OCS advisor.