Higher ed — The IDEA Center hosts students, employers for networking and jobseeking-skills event

The statistics college students face when seeking a job after graduation are downright intimidating.

For instance, recent research has shown that for each open position, the number of applicants is equal to three times the number of employees at that company, meaning a business that employs 300 will receive an average of 900 applications for one position.

Another study, cited by Deb Mumm-Hill, hired in January to direct George Fox University’s new career center, is that only 2 percent of job seekers just sending out resumes will get even a response GARY ALLEN - Getting started - To celebrate its opening and get the ball rolling for students, the IDEA Center hosted a job-seeking seminar and networking event Friday at the Stevens Center, which houses the program.

Those and the ever-growing list of discouraging figures are why GFU administrators chose to consolidate the departments of academic success, enrollment services and career services into one and establish a new career hub called the IDEA Center.

The acronym originates from the strategy it proposes students take: Initiate the next step toward future goals, Discover their calling, Engage in academic and experiential opportunities, Achieve exceptional life outcomes.

“We have a couple promises and one is that you will ‘be known’ when you go to school here and then we will drive for exceptional life outcomes,” Mumm-Hill said. “Initiate, Discover, Engage, Achieve: We want students to be doing that for three summers of the four years they are here.”

To celebrate its opening and get the ball rolling for students, the IDEA Center hosted a job-seeking seminar and networking event Friday at the Stevens Center, which houses the program.

In addition to the classes — one on using digital tools to manage one’s brand and land interviews and another on the paths to high-tech jobs for liberal arts majors — U.S. Digital founder David Madore’s spoke on “making your career your calling” and student participants got face-to-face networking time with more than 25 different companies and businesses.

“I think this helps a lot,” freshman computer science major Nathan Smith said. “It showed there are a ton of options available and that they’re helpful in getting us connected. I didn’t realize how much they go through to help us.”

For senior marketing major Chad Chriestenson, who has wished in the past that he’d been given more opportunities to “connect outside the George Fox bubble,” the event came just in the nick of time.

“I love the classes that I’ve been taking and what I’ve been learning, but it’s always nice to get that real world connection started,” he said. “Obviously, I don’t entirely know how sometimes, so this was a really good opportunity, I feel, to do that.”

Mumm-Hill said the center will direct students to take a different approach to job seeking, eschewing the old paradigm of sending out resumes for a strategy that focuses on pursuing five specific jobs by researching and tailoring resumes for and connecting with those companies and their key employees (like hiring managers) via social media, especially LinkedIn.

This is the preferred method now because hiring managers are inundated with so many applications that they are using computer search programs to weed through resumes for the key words, i.e. skills and experience, they are looking for.

“It’s a whole new ball game out there,” Mumm-Hill said. “I just got stats that 94 percent of hires used LinkedIn and 70 percent of jobs are found through networking. These stats are jumping 10 percent a year.”

According to GFU president Robin Baker, universities can no longer be satisfied with the traditional goal of helping students accumulate expertise.

“Parents are our constituents, so we want to step into what they want,” Baker said. “Ten years ago if you asked a university if they have a responsibility for placement, most of them would say it’s the students’ deal. Not anymore.”

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