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Providing Options in a Tough Market

TC's Career Services Office has redoubled its efforts amid a changing landscape

TC's Career Services Office has redoubled its efforts amid a changing landscape

For Christiane Farqui, the search is officially over. Farqui, who received a Master of Arts in Social Organizational Psychology this past spring, recently accepted a senior consulting position with Booz Allen Hamilton, a leading strategy consulting firm, and has relocated to the Washington, DC area.

Her first contact with the company was when one of its representatives--a TC alum--visited the TC campus in the fall. However, Farqui credits Victoria Gochenour, TC's Assistant Director of Employer Relations, with providing invaluable assistance on resume writing, as well as providing critical tips on how to build her contacts, including on LinkedIn. Upon her introduction to the social networking site, Farqui made the connection that led to her first phone screening with the company.

"It was a stressful experience, but one TC helped prepare me for," Farqui says of her job search. "It definitely paid off."

Given the current marketplace, TC Career Services has been especially responsive to student need this year, across all fields.

"Although the staff here does a phenomenal job under normal circumstances, this year we have made an added effort to be on top of our game, to facilitate new opportunities for our students," says Marianne Tramelli, Director of TC Career Services.

For example, Career Services partnered with TC's Office of School and Community Partnerships to host a pilot mini-fair, featuring eight Harlem schools that already have existing relationships with the College.

Other offerings from Career Services include career fairs, such as the Non-Profit and Human Resources/Organizational Development Career Fairs; on-campus panel discussions, such as the Health Care Panel with TC alums working in health care; information sessions with a range of private, charter and international schools, an online searchable database of job listings and one-on-one work, in which students learn how to best present their skills in cover letters, resumes and mock interviews.

Even in the face of a tough job market, TC graduates remain highly sought after, Tramelli says. "TC is highly respected--because our students are highly trained and good at what they do."

Kristina Exline, Director of Human Resources for the Success Charter Network, which runs a total of six schools in Harlem and the Bronx, concurs with that assessment. "TC students are ready to hit the ground running," said Exline during a break at the Charter School Fair and the PreK-12 Education Career Fair, held in Lerner Auditorium in early March. "They grasp the concept of 'the whole child'."

Still, with the hiring freeze instituted by the New York City Department of Education, there is no question that teaching graduates face a particularly difficult market this year. At that same event on March 9, Priscilla Forsythe, Regional Director of the Bronx Lighthouse Charter School, said that she had already received "several hundred applications for twenty jobs." For a single counseling position, she'd received 77 applications.

Some graduates have encountered the catch 22 of being unable to get a job without having already had one.

"Everyone has a good resume. It comes down to experience," says Meryem Ibrahim, who received her Master of Arts in Psychological Counseling and is seeking a school counseling position. "We've had internships, but not the paid professional experience that's needed to get hired."

On the positive side, public schools are still hiring teachers in special education and science, and charters remain a major option. Meanwhile, as the fall nears, TC grads are broadening the parameters of their searches. Mae Wang, who received her Master of Arts in International and Transcultural Studies, had first sought employment in education management in the New York City area, but has recently begun to consider capacity-building positions, since she has experience in human resources management. Now, Wang is primarily looking in the Chicago area.

Eve Pomerantz, an Art and Art Education graduate who has a background in sculpture, was originally focused on finding a position as a full-time middle or high school art teacher, but has since begun looking at elementary schools, as well. Recently, she secured employment as an art teacher in a summer program, which she views as "a big break" as she continues to look for fall employment.

As daunting as the job hunt can sometimes be, it's important to take the view that the journey may be as valuable as the ultimate destination.

"This is a great way to gain experience speaking to people," says TC student Neil Taylor, a British-born graduate who recently graduated with a master's in the Teaching of Social Studies program, of the many job fairs he has attended through the Career Services office. Taylor, who spent the spring substitute teaching, has remained optimistic. "Public schools always hire later. Overall, the situation seems promising."

Just before graduation, Tramelli received a thank you letter from a soon-to-be-grad who had worked with Naomi Naiztat, Associate Director of Career Services, on her search.

"You helped me land my dream job," the letter said.

Says Tramelli, "I was really pleased to hear that."

Published Monday, Jul. 19, 2010


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