Nearing the end of his first academic year at BC, Fessenden expresses confidence that a retooled Career Center will offer both new and old grads a "more user-friendly" environment which serves their individual needs. The center's Commonwealth Avenue office is being renovated to make room for a battery of new computers, he said, which will enable users to access thousands of on-line job listings and other information. Under Fessenden's direction, the center also is pushing to bolster ties with corporate recruiters, tapping alumni for career networking and emphasizing internship opportunities for students.
Career Center Director Frank Fessenden-"We're encouraging students to use our services early in their college careers, not wait until their senior years." (Photo by Lee Pellegrini)
Most of all, Fessenden says, the center wants to build a lasting relationship with students, one which begins almost as soon as they arrive on campus and continues after they graduate.
"We're encouraging students to use our services early in their college careers, not wait until their senior years," said Fessenden, who became director last October after three years as head of career services at Brandeis University. "The Career Center is more than just one-on-one counseling. We offer an array of workshops, the alumni network, data bases. There's a lot students can do on their own. We're here to help them put the pieces together."
One of Fessenden's priorities is to strengthen the University's internship program. Workplace experience is a must for any college grad entering today's job market, he said, to such an extent that internships "shouldn't even be considered optional now." Every student should do at least two or three internships while in college, he said, devoting 12 to 15 hours per week during the academic year, and work half- or full-time at one during the summer.
Fessenden is exploring the feasibility of for-credit internships, which he believes would benefit students with limited financial resources who seldom have the luxury to devote free time to unpaid jobs. He also proposes that the employer and the student, along with the University, sign an agreement form detailing job expectations to ensure the experience is a meaningful one for the intern.
As another way of increasing the Career Center's campus presence, Fessenden hopes to build stronger ties with academic departments by staging alumni panel discussions on job prospects in various disciplines. One such event co-sponsored with the English Department last fall attracted some 30 students, he said, and the panelists included a journalist, an attorney, a health care professional and a business consultant.
Students and alumni who visit the office after its renovation this summer will find a wealth of new technology, Fessenden said. The new central computer area will eventually house 16 workstations and users will be able to hold video conferences with prospective employers, Fessenden said.
The center's commitment to technology will be evident in other ways, Fessenden said, as it upgrades its computer software and adds more services and information to its World Wide Web site [http://www.bc.edu/Career.html]. Currently, the Web site offers access to several key data bases, including lists of 9,000 internships; the names of 4,000 BC alumni who have volunteered to give career advice; lists of on-campus recruiters; compilations of between 500 and 1,000 job listings that have come into the Career Center office; and links to newspaper "help wanted" pages across the country.
"Finding a job requires great commitment and patience, diligence and enthusiasm," Fessenden said. "The students we see who are most successful are those who have participated in internships, who can access a network of contacts, and can present themselves effectively through the resume, cover-letter and interview process. We help students in all of those steps."
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