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Jerry Donahue

“Students become part of this alumni family, and one of the services you can provide them ... is career services” - Jerry Donahue, director of career services speaking to ABC News

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May 2009

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Career Services ready with help for meeting a challenging job market

One of the tightest job markets in two decades awaits this year’s graduates and job-seeking alumni, some of whom are leveraging the free services and resources offered by St. Norbert’s Career Services office to improve their chances for success.

“Job searching is a slower process this year,” said Jerry Donahue, director of career services. “It’s hard to even get an interview in some cases, because experienced people are willing to work for less and getting the jobs that previously might have gone to new college graduates.”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the U.S. Department of Labor, the national unemployment rate was 8.5 percent in March, which was 3.4 percentage points higher than March 2008. Things are even more severe in northeastern Wisconsin, where the unemployment rate reached a 19-year high of 13 percent.

“There aren’t many jobs out there; it’s been a challenge,” said Michael Holman, a December 2008 graduate. “Recently, I’ve been getting some calls for interviews, including one that came from the Career Connections web site.” Career Connections is a section of the career services site.

Holman, who majored in business administration with a management concentration, is particularly interested in green jobs and the environmental field.

“The [career services] web site is getting better day by day,” he said. “They’ve recently added a whole section to look up green jobs, and there are a lot of links to other web pages that are good for job searching.”

Students must be ready with interview skills
Career services offers a comprehensive array of workshops, training opportunities and other preparatory resources for students to hit the ground running when they enter the job competition. A virtual job fair for international students is even available through June 1. It features companies from all over the world.

“Career resources are posted online for things like resume cover-letter-writing and developing your 60-second commercial,” Donahue noted. “We do practice interviews with students and offer workshops that take them through the whole process of self-assessment and job search.”

Landing a job has always been as much about leveraging connections as possessing a top-notch skill set. That winning formula has remained an essential job-hunt tool during the current economic downturn, according to Donahue. If anything, personal connections and interview readiness have become even more vital in the increasingly competitive job marketplace.

The Career Services web site features information suitable for students, alumni and even potential employers, ranging from a jobs database to corporate profiles by location, alumni profiles to potential mentors.

“A lot of alumni and students never contact our office,” Donahue said, “which is sad because we can provide them with some good resources.”

Alumni are tapping into the college
The Career Services team is handling more requests for assistance from alumni this year than usual, although Donahue said many still aren’t aware they can access these free services.

“I have a few alumni mentors, and they’ve really been great to me,” said Lynn Koves, a 2007 business graduate. “Career Services is a great resource, and I don’t think enough alumni know they can use it.”

Some alums are leveraging the college’s ability to offer distant connections, whereby reciprocal services may be offered through an institution closer to the area in which the alumni member resides. A Chicago-area college, for instance, likely would have more contacts in that area than the St. Norbert team. It’s more common for private colleges and universities to offer free reciprocal services than state institutions.

“We often refer these alums to alumni communities if they live in an area in which there is one,” Donahue said. “They can register and make a connection with St. Norbert alums in that area, and they can be a really good resource.”

St. Norbert Alumni Board members are becoming increasingly active in referring displaced alumni to the career services team.

“A lot of people are getting downsized as companies are tightening their belts, and I want to be sure our alums know St. Norbert is there to help,” said alumni board member Bill Van Ess ’85. “Alums tend to network and help other alums, so it makes good sense for St. Norbert alums to network with career services, the alumni house, and even the St. Norbert College Alumni Facebook site.”

To contact Career Services, call (920) 403-4052 or e-mail

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Phone: (920) 403-3557
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St. Norbert College • 100 Grant Street • De Pere, WI 54115-2099 • 920-337-3181
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