Placement gets focus at colleges
December 5, 2014
Western Nevada College recently hosted an evening event for students that included resume writing tips, mock job interviews and free pizza.
The WNC workshop is typical of the kind of efforts area colleges are more engaged in than ever to help their students find work.
Job placement offices, sometimes shuttered during recession-era budget cuts, have reopened to help prepare students for the job search and to connect them with local employers.
The University of Nevada, Reno, for example, had to close its placement office five years ago due to funding and left the work to each academic department.
Many departments still provide job assistance, but in 2013 the school re-opened its campus-wide placement office, now called the Career Studio.
In just over a year, the office has worked with 1,500 students in 2,500 drop-in visits, 1,900 students in 60 classroom workshops and about 2,600 students in 100 events, including job fairs such as the five-week Pack Career Palooza held earlier this fall in conjunction with academic partners such as the Mackay School of Earth Sciences and Engineering.
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The office works to help all students, not just those about to graduate into the real world.
"We work with students at any stage," said Mary T. Calhoon, career education coordinator. "We introduced a job expo geared to freshman and sophomores who aren't really looking for career jobs yet, they just need a job to make some money and to gain experience working."
The office is new so has yet to track its success rate, but Calhoon said a survey to find out if students are graduating with a job lined up is in the works for the end of this school year.
Truckee Meadows Community College, too, is hoping to start gauging the success of its two-year old placement office for the school's technical education program. The office is in the midst of implementing a software program to follow up with employers it works with throughout northern Nevada.
But if demand is any indication, the office is off to a good start.
"I have more job openings than students available," said Nancy Roe, job placement specialist at TMCC. "The biggest thing I see is a very high demand for skilled workers."
The program covers degrees and certificates in diesel mechanics, welding, renewable energy, manufacturing, construction and other technical fields and works to match students with area employers.
According to Roe, 89 percent of graduates of the various technical programs have found jobs.
In another new program, WNC in Carson City is working to place students in paid internship programs.
Chris Graham, the office's CTE internship coordinator, launched the office three months ago and has so far created 10 internships with local employers, including four with the Legislative Counsel Bureau, and others with Goodwill Industries, North Sails in Minden and the Carson City Sheriff's office.
"Our criminal justice students are going to be happy with that," said Graham. "My goal is to have at least 30 internships by year end."
The school's other job placement program is its long-established workstudy program.
Students who receive financial aid can apply for the program, which awards them a certain amount of money which is earned through work.
"We do our best to place students in areas that help enhance their development, but we can't always do that," said J.W. Lazzari, the program's interim associate director.
The office, for example, found a social work student a position with Friends in Service Helping, a Carson City nonprofit assisting the homeless and hungry, and a nursing student is working in an on-campus job in the school's nursing laboratory.
Last year the office, which has more applicants than it can currently fund, said Lazzari, placed 159 students.