The value of a good reputation

Alumni and employers discuss the value of Queen’s reputation in the wider world

Paul Smith, director of Career Services, says he sees Queen’s reputation at work every day.
Paul Smith, director of Career Services, says he sees Queen’s reputation at work every day.

Maclean’s magazine released the full results of its 2007 University rankings on Nov. 19. Tied with the University of British Columbia, Queen’s in second place overall in the Medical Doctoral category of Canadian Universities.

Maclean’s rankings claim to act as a measure of the overall undergraduate experience. The magazine’s website says the information used to create their rankings is gathered from three national surveys in which over 70,000 Canadian university students participated.

The Globe and Mail publishes a similar ranking of Canadian universities. Queen’s scored an A+ for its reputation among employers, as well as an A+ for its reputation for undergraduate studies and overall academic reputation.

Queen’s also scored an A for its graduate studies reputation and overall university experience. The Globe and Mail bases their rankings on a survey conducted by that polled more than 43,000 Canadian undergraduate students for this year’s rankings.

Impressive as it may be that Queen’s reputation ranks among the highest in the country, what exactly does the Queen’s reputation mean to students that look for employment upon graduation? Career Services Director Paul Smith says he can see the Queen’s reputation being reflected and created on campus daily. “National-level employers consider Queen’s as a ‘top flight’ school. They will come from far away and spend extra money to come here and meet Queen’s students,” he said. “This puts us in a rare category. Practically speaking, they will come here first to recruit, and then they will go to other places.”

Smith said being a “top-flight” school gives Queen’s students an advantage when it comes to meeting potential employers. “Every employer comes through the Queen’s campus. … Usually an employer will go to five schools first. Queen’s is usually on that list.”

Smith said the Queen’s reputation appears to be influential among employers from every sector. “There is a Queen’s reputation, yes it is favourable and yes it helps open doors,” he said.

As for creating a reputation of excellence, Smith said employers coming to Queen’s find it challenging to choose between applicants, who are all generally well-prepared and developed as individuals. Smith also said that many employers are drawn to Queen’s because they know the students are generally well-rounded due to their active participation in extracurricular activities.

Smith said few Canadian universities are well known on a global scale, but Queen’s is usually one of the few schools people have heard of. Gillian Goldblatt, Ernst and Young’s campus recruiting manager for central Canada, said a school’s reputation is a factor in hiring, but it’s not the whole picture.

“We simply want to take the best candidates wherever we can find them and so we always are looking for quality candidates. It just so happens we always find quality candidates at Queen’s,” she said. “Any school where we post a job posting we look at the resumes for all those schools on an equal basis.”

The company looks at “historical factors” such as how previous graduates from that school have fared at Ernst and Young, Goldblatt said.

“A lot of our partners and senior executives at Ernst and Young come from a Queen’s background,” she said, adding that university rankings such as those found in Maclean’s magazine are one of many factors in hiring decisions.

“We obviously look at those rankings. How big a factor they play is hard to determine,” she said. “I mean the be-all and end-all, really, is individual candidates. … It’s who you are and what you’ve done­—that’s what will get you the job.”

Sarah Renaud, ArtSci ’96 and executive director of alumni relations and annual giving, attributes her success finding work while abroad in the U.K. to the network a Queen’s degree creates. “Queen’s has a brand recognition that resonates across sectors,” she said. “There is an inherent competency, professionalism and potential that is bestowed on Queen’s grads more than other schools.”

While looking for work in London, England, Renaud e-mailed a fellow alumnus she had heard speak at a Queen’s Business function. “Within a week, he put me in touch with a sister company that was launching a new business in the UK. I was offered a contract position and then a full-time role within a few months,” she said. “This opportunity would never have presented itself if I weren’t a Queen’s grad and didn’t take advantage of my network.” Renaud said the Queen’s reputation can help out graduates because Queen’s conveys an overall image of success. “I strongly believe that Queen’s reputation is built on the people who attended it and have gone on to achieve remarkable professional and personal success. People automatically associate success, hard work and determination when they hear of Queen’s,” she said.

The reputation of Queen’s education degree has a lot of influence within Canada as well as internationally, said Alan Travers, Placement co-ordinator in the Faculty of Education. “When it comes to international teaching positions I would say that the Queen’s name is a distinct advantage because we are so well known among international schools in particular,” he said. “For 20 years we have been very active in placing Queen’s grads and other Canadian teachers in overseas schools and have a profile in this arena unmatched by any other Canadian university.”

Omar El Akkad, CompSci ’05 and reporter for the Globe and Mail, said there’s more than a degree giving Queen’s grads a leg up.

“There is always pull when you have a Queen’s degree,” he said. “But there is a different side of [the reputation] that many people don’t think about. There are so many extracurriculars [at Queen’s], everyone doing them so well that people often go on to do things in those fields rather than their degree of study.”

El Akkad said he realized he didn’t want to be in computing. In order to avoid going to class, he became involved in writing for the Journal and Golden Words. “After my fourth year, in which I was the production manager of the Journal, I picked up a summer internship at the Edmonton Journal,” he said. “The Edmonton Journal had a lot to do with the [Queen’s] Journal before, one of the staffers had worked at the Journal and a former Editor in Chief had worked with the Queen’s newspaper.” El Akkad said the Journal’s reputation of excellence helped him land the internship, beating out the other applicants, who were all from either Carleton or Ryerson’s Journalism programs.

Once he had experience working at a daily newspaper, El Akkad said he came back to Queen’s for another year to be the editor in chief of the Journal. Through a lot of persistent “bugging,” he got an interview for an upcoming summer position at the Globe and Mail even though all of the positions had already been filled. He got the position, and has been working for the Globe and Mail ever since.

El Akkad said the Queen’s reputation comes less from the actual institution than from what graduates have done in the past.

“Now the Journal gets consideration at the Globe when hiring,” he said. “Because someone gets in [from Queen’s] and does a decent job.” —With files from Anna Mehler Paperny

Ethical recruiting

• Third party recruiters will be asked to identify their employer clients; career educators will treat this information as confidential.

• Candidates’ resumes must not be held in the files of the third party recruiter for later referral to other positions unless authorized by the candidate.


•Provide accurate and appropriate information on resumes, application forms and in interviews.

• Notify the career centre well in advance if interviews must be rescheduled or cancelled.

• Acknowledge invitations for site visits or second interviews promptly whether accepted or rejected.

• Notify employers well in advance if site visits or second interviews must be postponed or cancelled.

• Accept interview invitations (second and subsequent) only when seriously considering a position with the employer.

• Discuss offers with employers to verify terms and reach mutually acceptable responses.

• Respond to every offer whether accepting or rejecting it.

• Notify employers and career centres of acceptance or rejection of an offer as soon as a decision is made.

• Honour the acceptance of the offer as it is a contractual agreement with the employer.


• Provide equitable services to all students and employers.

• Accommodate employers’ reasonable requests for job posting, information session and interview space.

• Ensure that students have reasonable time from the start of the school year to prepare for the on-campus recruitment process prior to the commencement of interviews.

• Provide information, resources and advice to students on career planning and job search.

• Inform students of ethical recruitment practices, procedures and responsibilities.

• Follow legal and ethical guidelines in providing student information to employers.

• Bring to the attention of the parties involved any questionable recruitment practices.


When commenting, be considerate and respectful of writers and fellow commenters. Try to stay on topic. Spam and comments that are hateful or discriminatory will be deleted. Our full commenting policy can be read here.