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Enhancing University Career Services

Northwestern now offers a more personalized advising experience

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Northwestern University has approximately 19,000 students enrolled in hundreds of majors, minors and other programs within 12 different colleges and schools. A highly talented and diverse group, the students represent a wide range of career goals.

The new vision of University Career Services (UCS) is to make the career advising experience at Northwestern as personal and optimal as possible by changing its model of delivering services and programs, working closely with the academic schools, and involving more alumni and new employers. UCS also plans to maximize the use of technology to enhance students’ opportunities, communications and connections around the country.

This has been the focus for Northwestern Vice President for Student Affairs Patricia Telles-Irvin as well as Mark Presnell, the new executive director of University Career Services, and his team. 

In line with its new vision, UCS has been redoubling efforts to give students optimized and personalized assistance as they formulate their ambitions at Northwestern and progress in their career paths.

Central to those efforts, students who use UCS’s services are assigned a career advisor who specializes in the opportunities, academics and alumni network of their particular school. They will work with the same advisor throughout their four years.

“Career advisors aligned with schools are set up to partner with academic advisors and faculty to integrate support of students’ professional, academic and intellectual development,” Presnell said.

Presnell came to Northwestern this fall from Johns Hopkins University with a track record of innovation and career-advising success.

UCS improvements include renovated offices; an online system for scheduling career advising appointments; and a four-year curriculum that encourages students to participate in career planning and activities as early as possible at Northwestern. Long term enhancements also include a new website design and easier searches through CareerCat, UCS’s chief online internship and job database. 

“We listened to feedback from a variety of constituencies, including students, alumni, other members of the Northwestern community and employers,” Telles-Irvin said. “And we are making every effort to respond to the growing demand for accessible, relevant and  personalized career services for our undergraduate and graduate populations by transforming UCS.”

Even in a tough job market, Northwestern graduates are in strong demand, but the complexities of today’s global economy present unique career challenges that must be addressed thoughtfully throughout college.

UCS is placing a greater emphasis on reaching out to alumni interested in educating and recruiting students.  Additionally, it plans to increase the number of robust relationships with recruiters. The goal is to broaden internship and job opportunities for Northwestern students (at businesses, nonprofits, technology companies and government and health care organizations) through a wider range of workplaces, from global leaders to local start-ups.

“We want employers to view Northwestern as a valued partner in their recruiting process, to assist them as they raise awareness of their brand on campus and attract top talent -- people who will become leaders within their organizations,” Presnell said. “We also would like to work with the schools to ensure the employers have a seamless visit to campus given our decentralized model.”

The department’s fall and winter internship and job fairs saw more than 200 employers with a record number of students and alumni attending.

“Our hope is that students recognize UCS as the best source for helping them translate their academic and co-curricular experiences into professional opportunities in a variety of career paths,” Presnell said.

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