Courses to Careers – Helping Graduates Overcome Tunnel Vision

Patrick Buford - Operations Manager ·

Reflecting on my college experience, “career” was not a term often thrown around by myself or my fellow classmates. In fact, I could not describe the location of my campus career center if you asked. Surely one existed, but in my college mind, the career center was reserved for driven, data-minded business majors, not a scrappy young graphics art major too entirely focused on wondering how I was going to afford school supplies while pulling all-nighters in desperation to complete my schoolwork.

I was convinced that upon graduation, I would be hired into a high-paying job by a top-tier employer. And now looking back, I was not the only college student dreaming of a job market that would stretch out its loving arms to accept us upon graduation. The kicker is, my fellow alumni and I graduated in 2016 in the midst of a labor market shuttering its doors in fear of a growing recession. The lingering effects of which are still being felt by college graduates today.

Recruiting Based on Tradition

Dr. John Sullivan, internationally known HR thought-leader, published an article titled, “Capturing ‘Passive’ Students Who Don’t Visit the Career Center.” His article proposes that, “unlike ‘experienced hire’ recruiting, most college recruiting is neither scientific nor data-driven. He proposes that a “majority of college programs run on tradition, which means that they rely almost exclusively on students attending information sessions and then interviewing students through the campus career center.”

He further stresses that employers “relying primarily on the career center will cause them to miss out on as much as 50 percent of the undergraduate population.” That’s a significant portion of the student body, indeed.

Missed Populations

Dr. Sullivan argues that students are no longer a homogenous group where everyone is actively seeking a job. He classifies this missed population as “passive students” that are less likely to use the career center. This includes students that are not active jobseekers, those going to grad school, online students, those in international studies, entrepreneurs, night students, and older students that feel out of place in the career center.

I would also argue that there is a significant population of students so focused on studies that have “missed out” on opportunities provided by the college career centers. In turn, these students are not interfacing with employers under this traditional model – missing “real-world” scenarios that teach students how to market their skillset. They believe that it will all work out following graduation, but experience something entirely different when that time comes.

Picking up the Pieces

I agree with Dr. Sullivan that these “passive” groups of students require a necessary shift in the approach colleges and employers must make to recruit qualified college students and graduates. Public and private entities can work together to develop tools and resources that will reach students that were not successful in the traditional model. Courses to Careers (C2C) represents this shift; empowering a population of college graduates, previously suffering from “tunnel vision,” but are now ready to grasp the opportunities that await them.

Learn more about our Courses to Career program -