The clock is ticking. As the final countdown to graduation begins, it’s apparent that seniors all around campus are beginning to panic. It’s that impending doom of what should come next: a job. Goodbye classes and accruing loans, hello 40-hour work weeks and paychecks to start trying to pay off those loans.
But first, we have to get hired. And that’s a feat seeming all too challenging for those flying from the Pepperdine nest.
Students hear the broken record speech over and over again, being told that the best way to get a job is to network. Well, we can attend every “Night 2 Network” available, but in the end this may not help in getting a company to look at our resumes. And no matter what they tell you, “elevator pitches” are almost always an unbelievably bad idea. What students really need is a person on campus who can call up that friend at ESPN and say, “Listen, Susie Q. Broadcast just applied for your News Assistant position, and she’s great. You should really check out her resume.” (And yes, “Susie Q. Broadcast” is the real name on a Career Center example resume.) Students need someone on campus who has an extensive network of connections and whose sole job is to get students real job opportunities.
While the Career Center should be the place to which we turn during the job-hunting crunch, many of us find it discouraging. While the Career Center does offer some beneficial programs such as mock interviews, help with making a resume (if you don’t have Google to search on your own for templates) and CareerSpace to find available jobs, it’s been proven relatively fruitless in helping students actually secure a job — or even an interview. It’s not security; just a little preparation. And this preparation comes via student workers more often than not. It’s frustrating to have a fellow student review your resume five times. Why five? Because each time you send it back to be approved it’s a new student worker — you may recognize them from Humanities class.
This isn’t to say that Pepperdine as a whole isn’t good at providing for its students — just look at what they do for the International Programs. Students in the IP or DC internship programs secure some of the most impressive internships any resume has seen: The Salvation Army’s International Headquarters, the United Nations, BBC, UNESCO and dozens more. And these are American students working abroad! You’d think it would be easier to help us get jobs in our own backyard.
What we’re missing in Malibu is the connection. Naturally, executives will pay much more attention to a personal recommendation from their peer. Wouldn’t you? Alumni need these connections, too. One reason we have such low alumni giving may be because many alumni don’t have jobs. That’s completely conjecture, but we do know that before we can give back to a place that gave us so much in our four years here, we have to pay rent. If you’re a Pepperdine alumnus in a position to hire entry-level employees or even recommend some Waves to your HR department, consider helping a fellow Wave out. You know our work ethic and our common ground should engender personal responsibility on our part.
It’s very important to differentiate between helping students and indulging a sense of entitlement. We are not asking for a handout. Activating some primal self-determination, students need to search job postings and talk to faculty members with connections. We are asking for Pepperdine to do more to help us secure that interview. From there, students can feel free to mess up their own chances.
And here is where our potential solution comes into play. It’s fair to say that each department has at least one professor with great connections, or could find a readily qualified individual for the job. Each department should be given the budget to hire on someone (or lessen the workload for those currently qualified) for this sole purpose: to help students network. Divisions should designate this person to spend time strengthening connections and helping students who come into his or her office looking to apply for a job in that field. This individual needs to be networking for students to help us land that interview, where the job of securing the position is now in our hands. But of course, those professors are simply too busy with classes, meetings and their own research to help out every student pleading for an advocate.
The Career Center can offer broad guidance to apply for a job, but a department networker can offer a specialized connection and help apply for the job — which is what graduates and students need in this competitive world. It’s been hammered into our heads how important networking is, so offer us some more concentrated help, Pepperdine, because we’re not getting it.