This past week David and I took a call from a group of budding entrepreneurs at the University of New Hampshire. After attending the local TechOut competition in Manchester, the professor of their entrepreneurship class gave them an assignment: critique uConnect’s business.
They called around midday, just after lunch. Perfect timing. We introduced ourselves and dove headfirst into a discussion of career services. David led off with a couple of questions: have you ever used the career center? If so, in what way? And how does the career center engage with students on campus?
Their answers were startling. Here are a few:
“I’ve used the career center for interview advice, but not for finding jobs.”
“I prefer Monster and Indeed because they provide more varied listings.”
“I get a lot of emails from the career center, but I don’t go to a lot of events.”
We went on to chat about their coursework and general college experience. All three of them are seniors who are engaged on campus and have had internships and summer jobs. I mean, talk about the perfect example of kids who should be using the career center; if these kids -- business students interested in entrepreneurship and engaged on campus -- aren’t using their own career center, then who is? This isn’t a dig against career centers. Instead, we want to call attention to the lack of engagement by students and try to understand why they aren’t using the resources available to them. Through trying to understand this problem we can help provide career centers with the tools to get students involved.
The Marketing Gap
We all know the root of the problem. Students are becoming increasingly tech-savvy, using social-media, mobile apps, and third-party websites to communicate and look for jobs. So, to reach this new generation of college students effectively, career services must update.
We asked the students at UNH about what their school could do to provide better career services and make sure students were more involved in their programming. Their answers:
1) A better, more dynamic, career center website (they pointed us to the website above as the one they had used in the past).
2) More articles to promote career advice and raise awareness about companies, industries and opportunities.
3) Communicate with them via mobile apps and social media and incorporate more video.
The problem isn’t that the UNH Career Center doesn’t have the resources: it does. At UNH they have exclusive career events, targeted jobs, great counselors, and connections with local and global companies. They, like many other schools, just need help marketing their programming and services in a way college students will respond to; it’s not that the resources aren’t there, but that the students don’t know about them.
This isn't easy. Fortune 500 companies have difficulty marketing to students. The rapid innovation in consumer behavior, mobile technology, and social media has made marketing to students a monumental task. Most folks who work in career centers aren't trained marketers, they're career counselors. Even so, although it's not part of their job description, the marketing piece of the puzzle needs to come from somewhere.
How can we help career centers get students engaged? This is the problem we are working on here at uConnect. If you want to read further about marketing tips, check out our blog post on how you can use Snapchat to connect with students and make sure to stay tuned for our upcoming Social Media series on how to use Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook to promote your career center.
We will also be continuing this particular thread in the next couple weeks after we catch up with the students from UNH!