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Design School Career Services Juggles Career Demands with Two Full Time Employees

By Theo C. Lebryk, Crimson Staff Writer

For a school with roughly 800 students and five different masters programs, the Graduate School of Design only employs two full time career service officers, a number some students have expressed concern over.

The months of February and March represent the heart of the summer and post-graduate opportunity search for GSD students. Many turn to resources at the GSD Career Services Office, which range from electronic resume reviews to career fairs and community service fellowships.

Behind all these resources is a team of student interns and liaisons and two full time staff. One is a student career counselor while the other employee deals mostly with external relations.

GSD Student Forum members have lobbied for increased career resources in recent months. Courtney D. Sharpe, the forum’s Alumni Relations Co-Chair, said current staff members are helpful but could use more support due to the diverse needs and interests of students. Other students voiced similar concerns.

“Because the disciplines are so distinct here, I’m not sure the extent to which it is possible for career services to deeply understand every discipline,” Master of Design Studies candidate Peter Erhartic said.

Still, Erhartic said he has not noticed the job resources detrimentally affecting employment prospects within his specific concentration, the Real Estate and Built Environment program. Other students also said the low number of counselors has not negatively impacted their educational experience or career paths.

“I don’t think [the office] would need to be any larger [based on] what I understand they do, provided they are good at what they do,” Master of Design Studies candidate Alexander Duffy said.

Still, some students point out a discrepancy in career resources between the GSD and other Harvard Graduate schools. The Graduate School of Education, which has a student population similar to that of the GSD, employs seven staff members in their career services office.

Director of Career Services Meryl Golden declined to comment about concerns over the number of staff members within the career service office. In her role, Golden helps coordinate fellowships, organizes workshops, and often works with students on an individual basis.

“I think she does a really good job and you can tell that she really cares and she does a lot,” Urban Planning student career liaison Shani A. Carter “But there is only so much she can do in terms of being the head, telling everyone else what to do, and then trying to do things herself.”

Students said they recognized the challenges posed by any lack of adequate staffing, including potential barriers and missed opportunities in certain career fields due to lack of exposure.

“People might not really be exposed to things that could make the world of difference for what they want to do with their professions, and I think that is where the unfortunate part comes in,” Urban Planning student Career Liaison Shani A. Carter said of the lack of staffing.

—Staff writer Theo C. Lebryk can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @theo_lebryk.

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Graduate School of Design