Hunters Become the Hunted
CINCINNATI — Picnics, pizza parties and expense-paid trips are some of the methods companies are using to attract college students who a few years ago might have been scrambling for job interviews with those same companies.
Ajay Kachwaha, a senior majoring in finance at the University of Cincinnati, said he hasn’t started his job search but has been invited to several recruiting events.
“It’s difficult not to become a little complacent,” he says. “I’m grateful to be graduating now because even five years ago, I would have had to work a lot harder to find a job.”
“It’s definitely a job seeker’s market now,” says Linda Bates Parker, director of the Career Development Center at the University of Cincinnati. “We have companies holding pizza parties, special casino nights and other events for students. Even four years ago, the students would have had to hold the parties and hope the companies would come.”
Other colleges and universities around the nation have reported a similar boom in recruitment – and not just for students with engineering majors, high-tech skills or top grades. With the economy strong and the job market tight, many companies are desperate to get their brochures and job applications into students’ hands.
“Our career fairs have been packed to the gills, and more companies are holding informal information sessions where they provide dinner or refreshments,” says Sally Chesser, associate director of the Career Center at the University of Kentucky.
Chad Russell, a senior accounting major at the University of Cincinnati, says he has been invited to Major League Baseball games, dinners and even a weeklong leadership conference in Detroit.
“The companies that take a personal interest in you definitely make a good impression,” he says.
Enterprise Rent-A-Car, based in St. Louis, sponsored a remote-control car race to attract students. The company gave T-shirts to the winners and raffled off the cars after a recent race at the University of Cincinnati.
“We’ve also started a student ambassador program at various schools around the country,” Christy Conrad, a company spokeswoman, says. “We pay students who have completed our internships to set up functions and speak to student organizations about our company when they return to school.”
Robert Chalker directs recruiting efforts for Delphi Automotive Systems, based in Troy, Mich. He says his company sponsors international career symposiums to create name recognition and to get information about the company out to students.
“When I started 10 years ago, companies were in control of the recruiting process. Students sent out resumes and had to sell themselves to a company. Now companies are trying to sell themselves to students,” he says.
Delphi also uses co-operative education programs and internships to find prospective employees, he says.
Norita Rehrig, assistant executive director of the National Association of Colleges and Employers in Bethlehem, Pa., says internships and co-ops are being used increasingly as feeder programs for entry-level hiring, with many interns being urged to return after graduation.
“I know of at least one company that flew its interns to Disney World,” she says. “But while a lot of companies are coming up with more creative ways to attract students, those that also maintain a long-term presence on campus will be the most successful.”
—The Associated Press
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