April 1, 2021

Much More Than Job Placement

UMass Amherst Career Services prepares students for careers they love

Are you ready for a Zoom job interview? Dress up, use a bland background. Smile, sit up straight, or walk around—your posture greatly influences your tone of voice. UMass Amherst Career Services help students ace virtual interviews and find jobs, but its modern mission is much broader. According to Cheryl Brooks, associate provost of Career Development and Professional Connections, “We partner with students as they explore possibilities and design meaningful and authentic career paths for themselves.”

The UMass Amherst Career Development and Professional Connections Hub coordinates its services with nine campus Career Centers at the university’s schools and colleges. The offices work together to promote student development and help employers hire UMass students.

The services and resources offered are far too many to list: they include the Handshake job board, which listed more than 40,000 positions last year; the Alumni Association’s new Connect UMass mentoring platform; project-based micro-internships; and self-assessment and skill-building tools.

Services are customizable: “We are available for one-on-one specialized counseling, or you can take a last-minute 2:00 am workshop on YouTube,” says Brooks. 
 

“When you are connected with employers, 50 percent of the battle has already been fought for you.”

Adonay Bereket ’22

Career Center staff campus wide pivoted quickly to adapt to this year’s remote-only environment. In fall 2020 alone, UMass Career centers provided 100 virtual professional skills workshops, including tips for such pandemic-era concerns as “How to rock your LinkedIn profile.” The offices hosted 15 virtual career fairs across a range of company sizes, industry types, and majors—from government jobs to engineering to the arts and more. Career services held more than 70 online employer recruiting events, with companies such as Dell, McKinsey, Wayfair, and Google.

Junior Adonay Bereket made crucial connections at a virtual Diversity Networking Event hosted by CMASS and Career Development and Professional Connections last fall.  He made appointments to speak with employers who interested him instead of waiting outside a booth and jockeying for time as sometimes happens at a live career fair. “This way everyone gets a shot,” he says. 

“Before the job fair, I wasn’t very successful trying to get interviews on my own,” Bereket continues. “When you are connected with employers, 50 percent of the battle has already been fought for you and you then have the opportunity to engage in conversation and show your personality.” Bereket had four interviews through his job fair encounters and a couple of resulting internship offers. He landed a paid summer internship in the investment division of Liberty Mutual Insurance.

Blake Geraci ’19 availed himself of the expertise of the College of Information and Computer Sciences Career Center for resume feedback and strategic support. “I learned how to communicate more broadly in my introductory letters and to position myself as a problem solver when I approach a company,” he said. “It’s an interesting way to orient yourself: You ask, ‘What can I do that would most impact the organization?’ and then you work backward.” Following internships with Amazon, he is now working for them in a job he loves as a software developer in New York City.

There are thousands of such success stories. Cheryl Brooks reports that 1,300 different employers hired students from the Class of 2020, and despite COVID-19, the number of 2020 graduates with jobs or in grad school declined only 4 percent from 2019.

And things are looking up for the Class of 2021. Said Brooks in early March, “The number of jobs posted is up 23 percent this week from a year ago; internship postings are up 27 percent. We’re excited to connect UMass students with these opportunities.”