Commencement 2017

As SU moves toward ‘One University’ brand, career services on campus could become more centralized

Courtesy of Stephen Sartori

As Syracuse University expands on the “One University” model, the University Senate’s Committee on Student Life has reviewed SU’s distinct career services across campus

Editor’s note: In an effort to understand Syracuse University’s individual school and colleges’ career services, The Daily Orange analyzed thousands of data points from available reports. There are limitations to this analysis, including a relatively small sample size. The outcomes reports used only surveyed undergraduate students and did not provide a complete picture of the individual career services centers. The reports also do not include specific information on international students.

Across the Syracuse University campus, schools and colleges currently provide varying career services that could become more centralized in coming years as SU moves toward its “One University” brand.

Mike Cahill, director of SU’s centralized Career Services, said he would like to see better communication between the schools and colleges about career services offerings because there is a perception of the separate institutions as silos. He added that the university has looked extensively at the different services and said he is “very optimistic” that SU will make a decision about its career services in coming years “that will best benefit students.”

As SU expands on the “One University” model, the University Senate’s Committee on Student Life has reviewed SU’s distinct career services across campus and provided recommendations that aim to better serve students — particularly international students, graduate students and those without a college-specific career services center.

“You have students that are paying the same tuition, and you have some getting the perfect career services, and you have others that almost have nothing,” said José Marrero Rosado, chair of the Committee on Student Life.

Cahill said he has faith in the administration’s “One University” model to better facilitate communication between the silos and the centralized career services. He added that he’d like to see a more overarching career services structure to enhance that communication.

The Daily Orange conducted data analysis of SU’s Career Services Outcome Report, which highlights the inconsistent career services offered at SU’s schools and colleges. The D.O. aggregated data about the university’s career services dating back to 2010.

In the report, each school and college reported its students’ first job post-graduation. The report included data on seniors’ post-graduation plans — whether they were entering a full-time or part-time job, attending graduate school or seeking a job at the time of graduation.

The report also provided information on whether students received their job via a “campus connection” and what that job’s starting salary was. The Daily Orange took the average of each of these categories to compare the schools and colleges in each category.

The S.I Newhouse School of Public Communications and the School of Information Studies both provide students with customized guide sheets and podcasts about building a career. The Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and the Martin J. Whitman School of Management have special login access to resources for their students. Whitman uses Blackboard to provide students with a way to schedule advising sessions and Maxwell has a separate section on its website for international students, specifically.

The School of Education has its own career services office and links to other centralized career services on its website.

The College of Arts and Sciences has a tab on its website’s homepage that provides information about the college’s career services. The David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics provides information about career tracts for each of its academic departments but only has a career services center for its sports management majors. Both schools have their own advisers but link students to SU’s centralized careers services for other resources such as information about CVs, cover letters and interview preparation.

The College of Engineering and Computer Science has a career services office but mostly links to SU’s centralized career services on its website. The College of Visual and Performing Arts’ website only links to SU’s centralized career service office.

SU’s Career Services Outcome Report shows that students in the College of Arts and Sciences, Falk and VPA have the lowest starting salaries and lowest rate of full-time jobs, according to the averaged data. These colleges also have the lowest number of students receiving their job via a “campus connection.” The students at these colleges rely heavily on services provided through the university’s centralized career services, said Cahill, director of SU’s centralized career services.

Students in the iSchool, Newhouse, the School of Education and Whitman have the highest rates of students finding full-time employment, according to the averaged data. Whitman and the iSchool also have the highest rates of “campus connection” and both have established college-specific career services.

The report also outlines funding concerns since SU’s centralized career services do not receive an operating budget from the university. Marrero Rosado, the chair of the senate’s Committee on Student Life, said SU pays for the “space and staff salaries, and that’s it.”

On average, career services at other top tier Carnegie research institutions receive an average 59 percent of their operating budget from their respective institution, according to the report.

Based on its 2014-15 budget, SU’s Career Services operates with about $174,000 — money that comes from fees, employer sponsorships, co-curricular funds and the Graduate Student Organization, according to the report. The average Carnegie Institution’s annual operational budget ranges close to $240,000, according to the report.

As a result of this funding gap, the centralized Career Services has to charge employers to attend its career fairs as a source of revenue, according to the report. College-specific career services are funded by their individual schools and do not charge employers for school-sponsored career fairs. This takes funding away from the centralized center.

Bridget Lichtinger, assistant director of Newhouse’s Career Development Center, said employers are often the ones looking for a niche skill set that only a Newhouse student would have.

“That’s when the silos are important, because we have what the employers are looking for,” Lichtinger said. “The employers are the ones looking for the silos.”

Cahill, the director of SU’s centralized Career Services, said students who are not in those specific colleges might feel intimidated or nervous about attending a school-sponsored event as opposed to a more inclusive, university-branded career fair.

The administration has examined its career service offerings in different ways, partly by hiring an external company to compile a report on the career services, Marrero Rosado said. This report has not been made public, nor has it been shared with the Committee on Student Life, despite the committee’s repeated requests to see it, he added.

“My committee has asked for that report several times. Even in the University Senate, I told the provost face-to-face, ‘Where is the report?’ and nothing,” he said.

At a February University Senate meeting, the Committee on Student Life proposed SU’s centralized Career Services has 60 percent of its operating budget funded by the university — a set budget that would not fluctuate between years. The committee also advocated for the center to have two additional staff members, one who would specialize in international students and job searches and one who would specialize in employer interactions and connections.

Marrero Rosado said the Committee on Student Life proposed its recommendations based on its own interviews but added that an external resource would aid in the committee’s recommendations.

The recommendations were sent back to the committee for further review. At the time, senate members wanted the committee to collaborate more closely with the Senate’s Budget Committee on the recommendations.

In the Committee on Student Life’s report, the committee “recommends the university to consider the option of taxing different offices in order to fund the central career services.”

Both Cahill and Lichtinger said they thought this was not the best way to address the career services funding issue. Marrero Rosado said his committee wanted to put something in the report besides a request for more funds and two new staff members.

At SU, international student enrollment has risen drastically over the past decade, increasing 143 percent since 2006. International students make up almost one-fifth of the total student population. Despite this growth, SU’s Career Services does not have a staff member devoted to international student needs.

“The administration can’t promote an international university, and say you want to have an ‘exemplary experience’ for international students when you don’t have anyone for them in terms of career services,” Marrero Rosado said.

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