|The new Commerce Career Services office fosters coordination and cooperation between MBA and undergraduate career planning and placement activities. "We view the new structure as more of a coalition than a merger," notes Meerdink, "a coalition that will help us achieve some efficiencies through cooperative ventures that allow us to make the best use of recruiters' time on campus. Although we at the college place some strategic importance on keeping certain functions separate, recruiters view the entire college as one entity and prefer to deal with one central office to make arrangements. Coordinating recruiting activities within the college should yield very positive results. In fact, we are using the Commerce Career Fairs as a model," Meerdink told InSight. "Before 1993, five student organizations ran independent job fairs. Recruiters had to attend each fair to see all the students. The merged fairs have proved successful beyond anyone's expectation. The only drawback is finding a location that is large enough to accommodate demand from all recruiters who want to participate and students who want to attend."|
During this period of transition, Lois Meerdink has taken over placement for the MBA Program and Pnina Steiner, associate director, has been hired to coordinate undergraduate and accounting master's placement and career planning. Cynthia Faullin, assistant director, has been hired to coordinate on-campus recruiting for all programs. By combining on-campus recruiting through one office, CCS hopes to increase the visibility of all students and gain some synergies across programs. In addition to this restructuring, CCS is taking on a new dimension. A search is under way to hire someone to coordinate career planning and placement for students enrolled in the college's highly successful international master's programs.
|A few other changes are already evident at CCS. Most notable is the active role now being taken in networking and marketing graduate students through participation in all types of graduate career fairs held across the nation for minority students, Latino students, Asian and other international students, and of course for the general MBA population. Résumé books of Illinois MBA students are shared at these fairs and the office has an aggressive follow-up campaign after making contact at the fairs. In a word, the office has become very proactive.|
"CCS is also making a strong effort to involve alumni, at all levels, in our career planning and recruiting efforts," Meerdink stresses. "They have always shared their expertise by making campus presentations. Now we are making an extra effort to interest more and more alumni in recruiting our students for internships and full-time employment." (See questionnaire)
Under the new system, CCS will continue to focus on two main groups, undergraduate and MBA students. Because the needs of each group sometimes differ, CCS continues to maintain specific counseling staff for each and will continue to arrange separate Career Focus Series geared toward the different needs of each group. With enthusiasm, Meerdink expressed her hope that this new coalition will work to the benefit of all. For example, "Many companies consider Illinois a `target school' for recruiting undergraduate business students. We are leveraging that strength for the MBA program and can already see signs that it is working. Recruiters like to maximize the return on their investment when they visit a campus and this new structure allows them to hold events and conduct interviews for students at all levels across all disciplines. Everyone gains from this arrangement with very little additional effort."
"When the transition is complete," Meerdink explained, "we hope to have an associate director for graduate placement to complement the associate director for undergraduate placement already in place. The aim of this restructuring is to provide more efficient on-campus recruiting for company representatives and a career development and placement program that is more effective for all student segments. We can't predict the outcome, but we can promise that no effort is being spared to make this project a great success."