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In The Spotlight: The Job Hunt
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MPACE Member Spotlight – June 2015
Article Featuring Stanford University




For our first University Spotlight, MPACE reached out to the Career Development Center at Stanford University, a 2014 MPACE Conference sponsor.  We spoke with Marlene Scherer Stern, Assistant Dean & Associate Director of Career Ventures to hear her insights on the topic of “The Hunt.”


MPACE: Can you please tell us about a new program or service Stanford is offering to support students through their job search process?


MSS: Stanford’s new model, Vision 2020, emphasizes customized connections and experiences.  Our students are interested in more customized content: connections, programs, and interactions.  In the implementation of this model, we piloted a new program called the “Senior Job Mixer,” which I coordinated in collaboration with my colleague, Morris Graves.  Morris is our Assistant Director Career Ventures. At this event, employers attended an informal mixer with seniors who were still seeking employment.


We were very intentional about how we facilitated connections at this event.  One of our goals this year is to decrease the number of students still seeking jobs upon graduation.  Because there is opportunity for improvement among humanities majors in particular, we targeted that student population.  In terms of employers, we targeted “cool companies” and involved a diverse group of employers such as Oracle, a couple of public relations firms from New York, and KNTV.


All planning for the event was done in collaboration with Stanford’s senior class president cabinet.  This created buy-in, and allowed students to provide input.  The event itself had a normalizing effect for student attendees, and helped them see that other students were in a situation similar to theirs.  We hung sheets of paper around the room with the prompt “I am…” and invited both students and employers to write in a response.  Responses included, “I am relieved to see I’m not the only senior without a job!” and “I am hiring.”  This icebreaker activity fostered hope by illustrating that students were not alone, and showcasing that there were opportunities for them.


We were happy with the outcomes of this event.  60 students attended, along with representatives from 13 organizations.  So far, five hires have resulted.  The success of the event shows the impact of connecting the right target audiences.  By creating networking opportunities for students, we also create equal access to industry contacts for all students regardless of background or socioeconomic status.


MPACE: Your Senior Job Mixer is a great example of connecting employers and students.  What advice would you like to share with specifically with employers regarding campus engagement?


MSS: Be open minded and broaden your thoughts about the types of students you look at, just as you want students to be open minded about the types of positions, roles, and geographic locations they look at from employers.  Look beyond majors, GPA, and class level. 


Also, attend and participate in a diverse range of programs on campus, such as panels and networking events.  When you visit a campus to speak with students, highlight the alumni working at your organization.  This will help you build a connection with students.   Think about participation on campus as a pipeline to students.  If you can connect to a freshman or first year PhD, that could pay off in 3-5 years.


Marlene Scherer Stern can be reached at marlene@stanford.edu.  You can find her on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/marleneschererstern
700 R Street, Suite 200 | Sacramento, CA 95811 | Phone: 916-231-2140