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University Career Services Celebrates 75 Years

Career development tactics have evolved to help students and alumni deal with changing job market

Northwestern University students are graduating into one of the toughest, most challenging job markets since the Great Depression, but they have a great resource to assist them in their job search. For the past 75 years, University Career Services (UCS) has helped students and alumni navigate the often rough waters of career planning, resumes, cover letters, internships and job applications, so they have a better chance of landing on their feet after graduation and remaining successful throughout their careers. 

As UCS looks back on its history and celebrates its success, Executive Director Lonnie Dunlap said the department’s goals have remained the same, but its methods have evolved to keep pace with changes in job opportunities, campus resources and students’ career needs. For example, Dunlap said, technology has sparked a cultural change not only in work settings, but in the hiring process itself. The increasing role of innovation is giving rise to a new generation of entrepreneurs, which involves very different approaches to career development. Advances in social media also offer more diverse opportunities for student and employer interaction.  

Though the core functions of University Career Services have remained largely the same, the increasing complexity of career planning and internship and job searching has resulted in a higher demand for services, workshops and programming. In the past year, UCS provided 7,360 individual appointments to undergraduate and graduate students and alumni, a 30 percent increase from 2009.

Scroll down to read more about UCS’s newer services and programs, and see a timeline of UCS milestones across the generations.

Recent Initiatives

UCS has embarked on a variety of services and programs in the past decade to stay on top of Northwestern students’ career development:

  • The 2012 remodel of the UCS Interview Center at 630 Lincoln Street has provided a vastly improved setting for on-campus interviewing and employer services.
  • The Career Lab at the Main Library offers a second location for walk-in hours, making UCS more accessible to students on the south end of campus.
  • The Summer Internship Grant Program, formed in 2007 by the Associated Student Government, Northwestern Alumni Association and University Career Services, which funds stipends for students completing unpaid summer internships.
  • The annual InPursuit Internship Conference developed in 2008 to assist freshmen and sophomores with the pressures of finding an internship.
  • The New York Recruiting Alliance, a consortium formed with the career offices at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Smith College, Mount Holyoke and the University of Virginia, to sponsor employment interviews in the communications field in New York City.
  • Collaborations with the Northwestern Alumni Association (NAA) for the Northwestern Externship Program (NEXT) and mock interviews. NEXT is a one-day job-shadowing program that offers undergraduate and graduate students the opportunity to accompany alumni at their places of employment to learn about a specific field.
  • The addition of iNet, an internship-only database shared by 11 selective universities that lists a wide array of opportunities across the country.


UCS Through the Years

As UCS celebrates 75 years, here’s a look at how it has evolved to serve the many generations that have passed through Northwestern:

Generation: GI

Birth Years: 1901-1924

College Years: 1919-1945

Current Events: WWI, WII, movement from Depression to economic growth

Career Services Stories:

  • The 1937 Bureau of Placement is created to better serve students in the job search
  • The Bureau of Placement is renamed The Placement Center and offers more centralized assistance to students as their needs and employment opportunities grow with industrial advances

Generation: Traditionalist

Birth Years: 1925-1942

College Years: 1943-1963

Current Events: WWII, Korean War, growth of middle class

Career Services Stories:

  • The Placement Center moves from Lunt Hall to Pearsons Hall to allow military use of Lunt
  • Career work is significantly focused on job placement, but the vocational guidance perspective becomes increasingly important (Alumni Placement and Teacher Placement offices exist in addition to The Placement Center)
  • The Endicott Report begins (later becomes The Lindquist-Endicott Report), which would be recognized by the nation as an important resource for recruitment trends and employment of college students and alumni

Generation: Baby Boomer

Birth Years: 1943-1960

College Years: 1961-1981

Current Events:  Civil Rights, Women’s Movement, Vietnam, protests and demonstrations against administration and employers, growth of anti-poverty programs

Career Services Stories:

  • Students demonstrate some company visits, including Dow Chemical
  • Placement and counseling combine; there is renewed focus of involving students in career planning before their senior year
  • The introduction of outreach programs, firesides and job-related workshops to students and student groups in the 1970s

Generation: Generation X

Birth Years: 1961-1981

College Years: 1979-2002

Current Events: Desert Storm, Boom, 9/11, Financial Crisis, Technology Boom

Career Services Stories:

  • The Placement Center incorporates computerization and technology into its work
    • Northwestern is one of the first schools to use and pilot “Career Search” under director Victor Lindquist
    • PCs are provided to staff
    • Jobs and internships are first posted on a computer system
    • Director Bill Banis starts using discs for students to register with The Placement Center
    • UCS creates its first website
  • The Placement Center becomes University Career Services
  • Students are appointed career peers to help with the increased demands of student advising
  • The graduation survey begins
  • Walk-in appointments and career fairs begin
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