Career Services Merges with Alumni Institute

Amanda Golden

 The Colgate administration has been working to provide stu-dents with more career building opportunities. As of July 1, Ca-reer Services now reports to In-stitutional Advancement, rather than their former overheard, the Dean of the College. The combination of Career Services with Alumni Relations provides a wide range of new opportunities for Colgate students looking to have the best possible advantages when entering the workforce.

“The idea is if you think about the world of work and how peo-ple connect with each other, it is very much about relationships, it’s about networking, it’s about professional colleagueship,” Asso-ciate Vice President for Advance-ment and Director of Career Services Michael Sciola said. “At Colgate University, unlike great big huge institutions where there are 30 or 40 thousand students on campus, we have the luxury of our students getting to know each other very well and as an in-stitution we maintain very strong relationships with alumni, so the strategic thought behind this change in reporting is for the Ca-reer Center to be connected with our key colleagues on campus whose job it is to reach out and connect with the alumni body.”

The merger between Career Services and Alumni Relations is an initiative headed by Mur-ray Decock ’80, as he is the Vice President of Institutional Advancement, which includes Alumni Relations, Advancement (which is the fundraising arm) and now the Career Center.

“Fourteen years ago, I and my col-leagues made the strategic move to have the career center move out of stu-dent affairs and into alumni and devel-opment at Wesleyan,” Sciola said. “We were the first school of our kind to do that. We made exactly this argument – that the world was fundamentally changing from a world where jobs used to be very linear and hierarchi-cal, that is, you did well at school, then you graduated, then you got a great job in a great organization and you did well and you moved up. It was an easier world I think in some ways. But at the same time, there wasn’t a lot of movement from industry to industry or from career to career. What hap-pened in the 80s and then 90s, that paradigm shifted drastically. It went from a hierarchical paradigm to a very networking-based paradigm.”

Sciola and her colleagues reacted by forging stronger ties with the school’s alumni.

“As career counselors, we were say-ing that we needed stronger ties with our alumni and we needed to be out on the road, we needed to know the chairman of the board by first name so we could talk about the resources and the opportunities our students required to enter the workforce with a distinct advantage,” Sciola said.

Sciola noted that while the idea that he helped to bring to fruition at Wesleyan is principally the same, he hopes to learn from his previous pro-cess to make it even more efficient for Colgate specifically.

“Here at Colgate, the idea is the same, the strategy is the same, but the expectation is we don’t take four-teen years to realize success,” Sciola said. “It’s just an exciting time for Colgate to be making this move and I really credit the President and the senior leadership here in thinking so forward about all of this.”

Sciola detailed some of the upcoming events and ideas that the Center is currently working to produce.

“We’re doing all kinds of re-ally great strategic thinking about how to make these linkages pow-erful and find great ways that we will be able to connect students with alumni,” Sciola said. “A good tangible that’s new this year is that in January we are having a program for sophomores called ‘SophMORE Connections.’ We’re bringing alumni back to campus. We’re going to have sophomores here early before the semester be-gins and we’re going to spend a few days really helping sophomores understand what their academic and intellectual interests are, how it connects to the world of work, introduce them to the power of ac-cessing a network and giving them an opportunity to practice access-ing the Colgate network by having some really great chats and dinners and panels. The January program is a collaboration across a couple of these offices to be able to pull that off. As the year goes on, we’re look-ing at all the resources, all the pro-grams, all the opportunities that we have here now and see where we can step it up.” Sciola also said how the Center hopes to foster unique opportunities for Colgate students.

“We’re looking at new opportu-nities to connect with alumni and parents, to create Colgate-exclusive internship opportunities for young-er students, so for rising sophomores and rising juniors, tapping into that Colgate network so that you guys can get great experiences earlier than our peer schools so that by the time you are a rising senior you’re at the top of the list when we’re looking at these premier national internships,” Sciola said.

Sciola believes that the kind of advantage that networking within the Colgate community is a vital and valuable asset to students today in realizing their own potential and skills.

“The ultimate strategy is to lever-age the Colgate advantage in stra-tegic ways by connecting students with alumni and parents around op-portunities for immersive learning, skill-building and reflection, so that by the time you’re graduating, you’ve got lots of opportunities in front of you, and that you’ve got a really good idea about how your under-graduate education and intellectual academic pursuits connect with op-portunities,” Sciola said. “Ultimately my goal is that students possess the tools and self-awareness to man-age their career in a world where it is no longer a straight shot, where the world moves so fast, and where there are so many opportunities that you have to constantly be thinking, ‘Where am I going? How do I fit in? What do I have to offer?'”

Contact Amanda Golden at [email protected].