Joseph Du Pont, the associate vice president for Student Affairs at the Career Center, and Amy Flynn, a career advisor on the Career Exploration team, spoke about the various recruiting timelines for students depending on school, major, minor, etc.
Interestingly enough, Du Pont’s career path exemplifies the fact that life and career choices often aren’t linear. Du Pont majored in history and religion before entering the Jesuit Volunteer Corps. He said it was one of the most impactful experiences he has ever had and it prompted him to apply to law school so he could empower people through legal actions.
After graduating from law school, he worked in private practice for over six years before deciding he wanted to work more directly with students through higher education administration. According to Du Pont, student fouryear plans, listed on the Career Center website homepage under “Freshman,” “Sophomore,” “Junior,” and “Senior” categories, encourage students to visit the Career Center once or twice in their first year to learn about resources available to them.
“The challenge, and one of the expectations that the Career Center has to overcome, is that we don’t want students coming in when they start looking for jobs,” Du Pont said. “Instead, we want students to come in as they try to figure out what brings them joy and what gets them excited.”
While many students use the Career Center’s resources junior and senior year—during the internship and job search process—Du Pont and Flynn want to emphasize that the earlier students frequent the center, the better equipped they’ll be in terms of understanding their interests and strengths when it’s time to apply for internships and jobs.
“We don’t want people to think that we’re this transactional place where you go to get a job,” Du Pont said. “One, because that doesn’t really speak well to what BC is all about and all of the resources the school has to offer, and two, it heightens a lot of anxiety for students if they come into the Career Center junior year when they realize everyone has an internship and they need one too.”
Du Pont and Flynn also spoke about timelines and Career Center opportunities for students depending on their interests. According to the duo, it’s less about what school students are in and what specific majors and minors students have and more about what industry and company size students are interested in.
“There’s only a finite number of organizations that know in August they’ll need 50 interns and 100 full-time employees in seven months.” Du Pont said. “However, those that do are predominantly Fortune 250 companies and so you’ll see a lot of that recruiting in the fall at the Career Center. The way students get jobs in different industries is also very different, and that’s why we have one big career fair as well as 14 different customized events. We want to cater to individual interests as well as empower students by helping them establish connections with employers.”
When asked about what time students should start considering how study abroad plays into their four-year plans, Du Pont emphasized that study abroad is not an either/or proposition and that there is no major nor minor that prevents students from participating in the experience.
For example, when pre-med students, with many academic requirements, go abroad—they just may have to start planning earlier and negotiate their classes in a certain type of way.
“I think students should talk to multiple people about their decision to study abroad and when: the Career Center, academic advising, faculty advisors, etc.,” Du Pont said. “There are some fields, such as finance, where—as the economy gets stronger, for example—companies start competing for student talent earlier.
Therefore, for those who want internships with companies that recruit in the fall, such as accounting firms, there may be opportunities that students miss if they’re abroad first semester junior year. Conversely, though, there are still a lot of those opportunities that occur in the spring, so again it’s all about understanding your industry’s timeline.”
Ms. Flynn also added that knowing how companies use technology during the recruiting process is an important part of students’ preparation. “I’ve seen things change dramatically even in just the last five years,” Flynn said. “Students are connecting with employers while they’re abroad via Skype, doing interviews that way, and again that is really up to the discretion of the employer. I actually just talked to a student the other day who secured their internship while abroad over a Skype interview and I’ve seen a number of students have success this way.”
Du Pont said a lot of students reach out to the Career Center while they’re abroad. They call in or Skype for advice on how to network, improve their resumes and cover letters, and virtually interact with employers.
The Career Center also works closely with Study Abroad by publishing a newsletter and hosting virtual networking events. Flynn said the Career Center is here for students no matter where they are in the world.
While the Career Center website profiles various student timelines, ranging from communications to economics majors, Du Pont and Flynn emphasized that students come to BC for a liberal arts education and that their majors and minors will not necessarily determine their future occupations.
Du Pont said that it’s really up to students to utilize the resources provided by the Career Center and that there is no set formula for being successful during the internship/job application process. “We’re trying to change the culture around the career conversation in a whole bunch of different ways,” Du Pont said.
“One, is that we want to get away from the perception that you walk into the career office and they open a drawer and there’s a job for you because one, that simply isn’t true, two, that’s very transactional, and three, that really doesn’t take advantage of your interests or the skills you have. We want to start early with students because a lot of our work is what brings me joy, what am I passionate about, and what does the world need framed in a career context.”
Featured Image by Kemeng Fan