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Hordes of job-hungry seniors and on-the-ball underclassmen will descend today upon the Office of Career Services’ annual Career Fair.
The event, held all day at the Gordon Indoor Track, is the culmination of a week of panels offering job advice on a variety of fields, according to Office of Career Services (OCS) Director William Wright-Swadel.
While students going through fall recruiting may swarm over the booths at the Career Fair, Wright-Swadel said this week is geared more toward helping students learn about themselves and the opportunities available to them.
“It is a mistake to measure the effectiveness of Career Week by the number of offers that occur,” he said. “The purpose of Career Week is not recruitment, but instead engagement.”
But while many said they appreciated the week of panels and networking opportunities, some criticized OCS yesterday for not being hands-on enough in helping students find the career or summer job that’s right for them.
“They point you to a room and tell you to leaf through binders,” said Natalia H. Naish ’04-’05.
The average waiting time for an appointment with a counselor is two weeks, according to an analysis of information provided by OCS, with some counselors having as long as a one-month wait.
The next available date to meet with Sue Taylor, the counselor for students applying to graduate school, is on Nov. 12, and the next open appointment for media and government counselor Sheri Ziccardi is Nov. 5.
Ziccardi, who e-mailed her government and media advising lists this week to say that there would be no further posts until the end of October, is getting married this month.
Other students complained yesterday that the job-hunting resources available on campus are too far skewed toward the financial heavy hitters of the job world—consulting and investment banking firms.
“I found that the OCS is extraordinarily helpful for a very specific set of industries,” said Jen E. Ringel ’04, who is planning to work in film. “If you venture outside that set you have to try to find opportunities on your own.”
More than half of the 91 firms that will be represented at today’s fair are in banking, consulting or financing, according to the list of participants posted on the OCS website.
Wright-Swadel admitted that these firms are more prominent on campus, but said this fact reflects not an OCS slant toward business but “merely the financial advantage that these firms have.”
And OCS Assistant Director Bob M. Cohen said that, in response to student demand, OCS is making a concerted effort this year to provide information on a wider array of fields .
“This year is one of the more diversified ones, in terms of the variety of the career panel discussion sessions,” Cohen said.
Students had a say in picking the topics of this year’s panels, which ranged from media and communications to business, law, education and public service, Cohen added.
Some students said they have noticed marked advances in OCS efforts to provide counselling on diverse career options.
“I have definitely seen an improvement in awareness of different careers and I hope to see [OCS] go further,” said Ringel.
Kristin J. Hung ’04, who works at the front desk of OCS, said the office does try to suit the diverse needs of students.
“Counselors make the effort to bring companies here, and a lot of work goes into making opportunities available for students,” she said.
Wright-Swadel said that the OCS stresses teaching students about the opportunities that exist, helping them assess what exactly they want and helping them try to get it.
Career Week is an annual event, put on by OCS in conjunction with Harvard Student Agencies and other students groups, like the Institute of Politics and the Phillips Brooks House Association.
Wright-Swadel said that the event is not only for seniors—for whom the job search is more immediate—but for all undergraduates.
Cohen said that Career Week this year has been well-attended.
But today’s fair—with its free goodies and pushy recruiters—traditionally attracts the biggest crowds.
“It’s like Halloween,” said Ringel. “You go back to your room and sort through all of the free stuff.”
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