Center for Student Engagement wants to see more underclassmen


As May 19 draws nearer, the Center for Student Engagement is prepared to assist the class of 2013 with post-graduate opportunities, but they are urging students to come in sooner rather than later.
According to Dean of Experiential Learning & Career Planning, Raj Bellani, from July 1, 2012 to April 8, 2013 seniors have accessed the career center 1,376 times. Some of these may have been repetitive visits by the same person, however Raj said he would like to see the number closer to 2,000.
The purpose of the Center for Student Engagement is to help students find, apply and select experiential and professional opportunities locally, domestically and internationally. The professional opportunities sector of the programming is students' source for application advice, career planning and alumni connections.
A common misconception, however, is that the center is mainly for upperclassmen who are looking for post-graduate opportunities, when in reality these services are meant to aid all DePauw students.
According to Bellani, it is clear that the university needs to ensure that underclassman utilize the career center so that when they become upperclassmen it becomes second nature to use the center's resources.
Bellani stresses that a student's job search process must start early. To help with this, the Center of Student Engagement has begun sending ongoing email notifications to the entire student body that lists professional internships and job opportunities available to both underclassmen and upperclassmen.
"This is not a DePauw Weekly," Bellani said. "This is a very targeted piece helping students find and chart a path of success."
Senior Elyssa DiRaffaele wishes the new Center for Student Engagement emails had been sent when she was an underclassman. DiRaffaele said she would have probably used the center as underclassman had she heard more about what services it could have provided her.
"I think it needs to be better advertised," DiRaffaele said who first used the advising bar for assistance with her resume at the beginning of her senior year. "I didn't really know how much they could help with when I came and signed up for my appointment."
However, DiRaffaele said the assistance was "incredibly helpful and really reassuring." Although she thinks she would have taken advantage of all the Center's services sooner in her job search if she had she known more about it.
Assistant Director of Career Services Erin Mahoney understands that sometimes students find professional guidance from an academic advisor, faculty or even family and peer connections and therefore don't need to come into the center.
"We don't know every student so it's harder for us to personalize our contact," Mahoney said.
Mahoney emphasizes the importance of recognizing that even if the center does not know every student personally, they still might have opportunities for specific students to explore.
"Sometimes I think students think the only employers that come to campus often times relate to management consulting IT so they think we don't have anything for them," Mahoney said. "But we do... we have something for every student's interest."
Bellani also said that some students expect to be simply handed an opportunity when they come in for a career center appointment.
"We are not a placement center," Bellani said. "We are helping [students] develop a process and life skills. We're more concerned that you get the right fit [for a job], are excited about it, and that it will lead you to more right fits."
Along with the new communication plan through the Center of Student Engagement emails, the new expansion plans for the Kathryn F. Hubbard Center for Student Engagement will allow for a larger facility.
Bellani says it will aim to enhance support and programming as well as work in collaboration with student affairs, academic departments and faculty to deliver information about what the center is offering.
Bellani said that one of his goals for the future is to better reach out to the underclassman. He said he recognizes that the Center did not do that as well for the class of 2013. However, he said he wishes that the senior class had taken more of an initiative to utilize the professional opportunities center.
"I feel like its our job to walk 50 percent of the way, and students have to walk 50 percent of the way," Bellani said. "I think that's a good partnership."