Career Services - Rochester Institute of Technology
- By Mary Grush, Matt Villano
The Rochester Institute of Technology (NY) Office of Cooperative Education and Career Services is driven by a simple mission: to empower RIT students and alumni to succeed in obtaining employment appropriate to their career objectives and personal goals. That directive has become particularly critical in these tough economic times, and last year, the school turned to technology—in the form of a new Career Services Reporting System—to streamline its Career Services operation and better serve constituents.
Launched in October 2008, the reporting system revolves around career services management technology from the NACElink Network, an alliance among the National Association of Colleges and Employers, DirectEmployers Association, and Symplicity Corporation. (NACElink’s suite of web-based recruiting and career services automation tools is powered by Symplicity’s Career Services Manager product.) By integrating data from multiple sources, the system provides vital information to faculty, staff, and students, including reports for accreditation, job postings, job placement results for specific academic departments, employer and student activity, and job evaluation data.
The system automatically transfers the various source data to a SQL database. Once this information appears in the database, users can log on through a single sign-on web portal to view it. They can search the database for specific information on everything from salaries to résumés, job openings, and more. Plus, RSS feeds pull the latest real-time job information from NACElink, career fair employers, career service events, the student information system, and other sources.
A big part of the system provides information on cooperative education jobs for students. These “co-ops” are full-time, paid work experiences directly related to a student’s course of study and career interests, often required by RIT’s academic programs. Students work between 35 and 40 hours per week for an average of 10 to 20 weeks at a time; co-op jobs can be located on or off campus, across the country, and even abroad.
Project lead Jim Bondi, assistant director at the school’s Office of Cooperative Education and Career Services, says that approximately 3,600 RIT students used the system to land more than 5,400 co-op assignments last year alone. A large number of co-op jobs are available on campus, in multiple departments. In fact, RIT used student software developers from the computing school and a web designer from the design school to work on the Career Services Reporting System itself.
“Without them, we would not have been able to tackle this project,” says Bondi.
Students and alumni aren’t the only ones who use the Career Services Reporting System; faculty and staff members have access to it as well, and can utilize it to monitor student activity and performance throughout the semester. Department hiring managers also can use the tool to manage interviews, student employment applications, and the on-campus recruiting program—all online. And Career Services staff can analyze data for specific demographics and learning outcomes.
The Career Services Reporting System is constantly evolving. A new module for the system produces maps so students can utilize their mobile devices (or a standard web browser) to see where jobs are located. In addition, RIT technologists have rolled out a number of modules on the back end to help the system provide even more information. In particular, new career fair and kiosk modules allow school employees to scan student IDs at events; the school can then track student activity with the data.
Down the road, Bondi suggests that other institutions might benefit from this particular project as well. The school recently initiated a closed Google Group and MindTouch Express wiki to share knowledge with other schools interested in career services management.
Mary Grush is Editor and Conference Program Director, Campus Technology.
Matt Villano is senior contributing editor of this publication.