After years of helping students find employment, three professional career advisors came to Oberlin this week in search of jobs themselves.
The on-campus interviews marked the final stage of Oberlin's national search for a director of the Office of Career Services. The position was vacated when former director Lanna Hagge resigned this summer after 22 years at the College. Wendy Smith-Miller, one of the three candidates, is currently serving as acting director.
Daniel Gardner said, "I think we're going to have a nice choice to make between some strong candidates." Gardner, the director of the Center for Service and Learning, is chairing the search committee.
According to the position description released in September, the director is responsible for managing the Office of Career Services, developing relationships with employers and orchestrating campus outreach. Gardner said the ideal candidate would possess a balance of the qualities outlined in the description.
"There is an emphasis on an ability to understand Oberlin student culture and deliver a variety of services," Gardner said. "Someone who really can faithfully advocate for students."
The first of the three candidates, Burton Jay Nadler, visited Oberlin Nov. 25. Nadler is director of the Career and Internship Center at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, Calif. Nadler, who resembles a Ron Silver in suede saddle shoes, shared his vison for the department with students.
I work with one student at a time," Nadler said. "I use the sports metaphor. I call myself a job search coach."
Nadler introduced students to an alphabet soup of acronymed programs he has created including WOW, VIPS and ABC that he hopes will help Career Services to become a place where "state of the art meets head and heart." The programs focus on alumni networking and career exploration.
Nadler fielded a number of questions from the six students concerning the office's outreach programs.
"I don't want any student to feel uncomfortable coming into this office whether they have a ponytail or an earring," Nadler said. "Guys, it's for everybody. The technique I have found most successful is resume critiquing. And they come back to Burt. I am living, breathing proof that any idiot can create a resume."
Three students attended the meeting with Miller on Tuesday. Miller was first brought to Oberlin from Case Western Reserve University to oversee the rebuilding of the Career Services office this year. The office was hard hit this year by recent resignations, including those of Hagge and Director of Business Initiatives Perry Boyle.
"Often in times of transition, offices can suffer," Miller said. "We've been able to make some real strides that I think students have responded to."
"Career Services seems intimidating at most colleges and universities," Miller said. "Oberlin students, probably more so, have fears or issues they deal with. A lot of times when students come in they spend the first three to four minutes telling me how unhireable they are. With knowledge, there's a little more confidence."
Miller said in order to provide students with the knowledge they need, she would continue to offer outreach programs, including a seminar for first-year students.
Search committee member fifth-year double degree student Joel Krier asked Miller to evaluate her success in outreach thus far.
"The key piece is the registration database," Miller said. "It's easy to find out who hasn't come in yet. I think we have done a much better job of reaching out to minorities. And I'm determined to know what every student is doing after graduation. I'll track them down. I'll track their parents down."
Three students attended the meeting with Dan Amari Thursday. Amari, the final candidate to visit campus, is currently director of Career Services at Indiana University Northwest.
Twenty-five years ago, Oberlin was Amari's second choice. Apparently, he's changed his mind.
After graduating from the College of Wooster, Amari made his career in career services. In his discussion with students, Amari stressed the importance of working with alumni and engaging students.
Krier asked Amari to detail his greatest achievement.
"It's small things rather than large things," Amari said. "I'll tell you a story that gave me great personal satisfaction. A political science student wanted to work in public relations. Within no time he landed a job. Now that's where I take real pride and satisfaction."
Krier also asked Amari to describe how a student might ideally utilize Career Services during his four years.
"I'm going to answer that in a way you might not expect," Amari said, growing visbly agitated. "I will never write a four year plan. It suggests everyone is in the same place. I reject that. It denies the individuality of souls."
Gardner said a final decision will be made soon. The new director should be in place by Spring semester.
"A decision will be made as soon as humanly possible," Gardner said.
Job searching: Dan Amari speaks to students in his visit to Oberlin. He is the final candidate for the position of Director of Career Services. (photo by Mike Oleson)
Copyright © 1997, The Oberlin Review.
Volume 126, Number 11, December 5, 1997
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