Spotlight on career services

Career counselors from colleges and universities across the United State, in Boston this week for the annual conference of the National Career Development Association, visited Northeastern Wednesday afternoon for a standing-room-only site visit hosted by the university’s Career Services office, which consistently receives best-in-the-nation accolades from The Princeton Review.

Northeastern career services professionals showcased the university’s array of programs for students and alumni and offered a number of strategies designed to engage employers. Career counselors and administrators highlighted programs aimed at empowering young job-seekers; helping international students acclimate to the American job market; and connecting students interested in public service with jobs in the nonprofit and government sectors.

“What we do aligns well with the academic side of the university,” said Maria Stein, Northeastern’s associate vice president for university career and co-op services. “It’s about teaching our students to fish, not just handing them a job or throwing them out there unprepared.”

The site visit was one of three held during the NCDA conference; the others took place at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Tina Mello, an associate director in the Career Services office, noted that Northeastern’s annual career fair is far from the only option for job-seeking seniors looking to find the perfect professional match. The Senior Situation, for example, comprises a daylong series of workshops designed to equip students with the information they need to find a job.

Northeastern’s career counselors also provide services tailored specifically to the university’s large pool of international students, who seek guidance at a slightly higher rate than that of the overall student body, explained Ellen Zold Goldman, also an associate director.

Programs for international students focus on resume drafting, entrepreneurship, and solving pesky visa issues. There’s even a workshop for learning how to make office small talk.

The Career Services office relies on data to identify the most in-demand programs and the most successful ways to market them.

Goldman didn’t think the small talk workshop would draw a large turnout, “but boy was I wrong,” she said. “We probably should’ve booked a bigger room.” That success will guide future iterations of the program.

Northeastern’s century-old co-op program has helped build a bond between employers and the university. Career Services works hard to nurture that relationship, a topic of discussion among a panel of recruiters from TJX Companies, Philips, the Peace Corps, and EMC Corporation.

“We’re fortunate that we have a very strong employer network,” Stein said. “If you say Northeastern, employers know what that brings to the table, and that’s a very valuable resource for us.”