Head hunted

University District

Student job searches grow more competitive

Students and prospective employers meet and greet at a Career Fair in Grant Hall yesterday.
Students and prospective employers meet and greet at a Career Fair in Grant Hall yesterday.
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Although April may still seem a long way away, preparing for a summer or post-graduation job is already a top priority for many students.

Through events run by Career Services, such as this week’s Career Fair and ongoing information sessions held on campus by employers, students can pursue specific companies, and hope they are pursued in return.

Brad Fowler, Sci ’07, said it can be difficult to interact with company representatives, even at specialized information sessions.

“[Information sessions] are pretty interesting,” he said, but “unless you get one of [the recruiters] alone, you don’t get any one-on-one time.” He said it’s difficult to focus on his future job search while going to school and working.

“It’s sort of chaotic and everyone wants your attention,” he said. “It’s sort of overwhelming.” James Villeneuve, corporate affairs president for Labatt Breweries, said his company is looking for a university student that fits into its corporate culture.

“We come in and explain the program to the students,” he said. “They get to meet senior executives that we bring down with us, plus trainees who are in the program. We explain how to apply and get into the consideration [of the company].”

The company’s recruitment process has changed in recent years, Villeneuve said.

“This is a far more disciplined approach,” he said. “It’s a global program.” Villeneuve attributed the changes in the recruitment process to the changing demographics of the country.

“We’ve got a lot of people who are heading toward retirement age,” he said. “Almost by necessity we have to go and build from behind.”

Phil Kazmaier, Comm ’06, went through an involved recruitment process while he was at Queen’s that led to his current job with Labatt Breweries.

Kazmaier said although it was an intense recruitment process, it was a valuable one.

“It’s hugely beneficial—it gives [the companies] a chance to get right into the school environment and get to know the students, and vice versa,” he said. “They did an information session as well as posting on the Commerce board. It was pretty intense. There were several interview stages to it.” David Edwards, Business Career Centre director, said the competition for jobs on campus can be tough.

“Students vie heavily to get a spot with the company they eventually want to work for,” he said.

Students need to take advantage of networking opportunities with companies in order to get on recruiters’ radars, Edwards added.

One of the main networking opportunities hosted by the Business Career Centre is Career Launch, an event in early September for third and fourth-year Commerce and MBA students.

“Companies come down, they do mock interviews, they hold a whole bunch of seminars and workshops about different kinds of industries and companies,” Edwards said. “They also have an opportunity to network and meet the students.” Edwards said the mock interviews offer students experience, as well as an opportunity to get their foot in the door.

“It gives [the company] the opportunity to ... pre-screen some interested students,” he said.

Edwards noted the increase in on-campus recruitment. “This year there are over 83 companies running info sessions,” he said. “Last year it was in the mid-60s, so it’s up about 30 per cent.” Edwards said the state of the economy, which has provided for a growth in business opportunities in investment banking, consulting and the oil and gas sector, is one of the main causes for the increase in job opportunities.

Paul Smith, Career Services director, said there has been a 20 per cent jump in job postings on the Career Services website this year.

Smith also attributed the increase to the upcoming retirement of the baby boomer generation.

“Companies are recognizing that they need to bring young people in because their senior staff are retiring,” he said.

Smith said Career Services tries to keep themselves between the employer and the student at least until they have personally interacted.

“We would never allow for an employer to just spam students—that’s just not how it happens.”

The Career Fair is a good learning opportunity, he said.

“You can meet representatives and find out how you can position yourself better for opportunities with that company,” he said. “It’s really at [the information sessions] where you have that kind of conversation with a smaller, more manageable group.” Career Fairs and information sessions aren’t the only ways to find a job, however.

Smith said that upwards of 80 to 85 per cent of job opportunities are accessible via what he calls the “hidden job market.” Students can access the “hidden job market” by doing extensive company research, taking advantage of networking events and joining groups and organizations that hold information-sharing functions.

Jon McCann, Sci ’06, got his current job with SNC-Lavalin Engineers this way. A friend working at the company told McCann to apply the summer after he graduated. He returned to Queen’s yesterday to encourage other students to apply.

McCann said he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do when he graduated, and so he didn’t participate in many of the events run by Career Services.

“I just thought it was very crazy and hectic,” he said of events like the Career Fair. “It almost seems difficult to really engage with someone, but if you try it’s a huge benefit.”

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