University Career Services works to improve opportunities, services

Annie Bruce, Reporter

University Career Services is upping its offerings this year, adding the ability to make appointments online and creating a more personalized advising model, in which students have one school-specific advisor whom they work with for four years. 

The updates are among many that UCS’ new executive director Mark Presnell, who came to Northwestern in October, plans to implement in the upcoming months.

“I think that’s one of the key changes to make when you talk about personalizing career services, so the advising staff begins to directly know the students they’re working with and see them what we hope is many times over the course of their time here,” Presnell said.

Working with career services during all four years can help students develop a better understanding of their career path and gives students more options in any industry, Presnell said.

“It helps the career development of the individual student to really think through over the course of four years what their interests are and what they want to do,” he said.

Students, however, sometimes don’t take advantage of UCS until later in their college careers. Communication senior Abi Koh visited career services to have her resume reviewed for the first time this year.

Weinberg senior Katherine Barnes has only ever used the career services email list. She usually visits the pre-med office when she has a question. Barnes said she hopes the more personalized advising system will help students in the future.

“I guess that’s one of the reasons I didn’t really use them is nothing was really specific to what I was doing,” she said.

Koh said one way to improve career services would be to change the location. UCS is currently located at 620 Lincoln St.

“We do know that location, especially when it’s negative 5 degrees outside, it’s a big deal for students,” Presnell said. “Long term, it’s my hope that we can address that.”

However, he said for now, students can get resume help and career advice at Express Hours in University Library and take advantage of the UCS presentations taking place across campus. 

As the year goes on, Presnell hopes to implement even more changes, including an increase in more specific programming. UCS plans to expand the “micro-career fair” program after holding one focused on sustainability and energy in October, which drew more than 200 students. In the spring, UCS also plans to add programming related to public service and nonprofit career fields, in addition to a nonprofit career fair.  

Another priority for Presnell is the creation of a new UCS website, which he is hoping to launch by next fall.

UCS will also play a more active role in working with employers. In order to do so, Presnell said he needs to understand which employers students are interested in, work to prepare students to meet with employers and use post-graduate data to see where graduates have found success.

Presnell is also in the early planning stages of developing programs that would better connect students with alumni.

“I think that, that notion of being able to connect an alum to a student to educate that student and also to increase opportunities for that particular student … is really key to the success of our organization,” he said.

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