Release Date: March 9, 2012
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- In today's survival-of-the-fittest job market, the University at Buffalo Career Services office is setting its sights high when it comes to helping students and graduates.
That office aims to develop job opportunities within companies that have been recognized for their excellence in rankings such as "Fortune's Top 100 Best Companies to Work For," as well as employers where graduates wish to begin their careers.
And the inventory of opportunities -- whether they be internships, part-time jobs or full-time employment -- are starting to reflect the center's strategy and focus: Find the best places for graduates to work, and build mutually beneficial working relationships with the employer community.
The result: UB students can work for the best employers out there and, at the same time, these companies can enjoy the benefits of the university's well-trained and ambitious graduates.
"UB Career Services is focused on building strong partnerships with companies that are known as leaders in their field, industry or sector, who have a brand that is recognizable and valued, and who will offer our graduates growth opportunities," says Arlene Kaukus, director of UB's Office of Career Services.
"We are delighted to see names of companies we work with on a recently published list of 'Fortune's 100 Best Companies to Work For.'" she says. "Some of the companies highlighted that already work with our office include Google, Mattel, Wegmans, Microsoft, General Mills and Teach for America.
The focus on establishing partnerships with the country's top companies has paid off in real success stories. The testimonials from those who have benefitted from the guidance come from far and near.
"I am currently employed by General Mills, at the site here in Buffalo," wrote Bobby Walker, a team leader for General Mills -- a company indentified by Fortune as one of the 100 best companies to work for.
Walker graduated from UB in 2009 with a degree in mechanical engineering. He completed an internship with General Mills in 2008 before joining the company full-time, and wrote that he is now in a management role.
"I hope to stay with this company for a long time, and look back at UB as a great foundation for the day-to-day tasks that I face," Walker wrote.
He noted that he was impressed with the passion of the Career Services staff, who helped him develop his resume and obtain his internship.
Walker's story is particularly important to UB's Career Services because he has been able to remain in the area and pursue a productive career. More than half -- 55 percent -- of the graduates responding to the senior exit survey in May 2011 said they wanted to stay in Western New York.
The results add credence to the belief that many UB graduates would love to settle in Western New York. This is the place many prefer to launch their careers.
The experience of others who have taken advantage of UB's Career Services' connections and expertise illustrates other principles guiding the office's strategies.
That same senior exit survey indicated that 35 percent of respondents said they wanted to get a job in the New York City area. UB's Career Services has also been able to come through for those students, cultivating good relationships with New York City companies.
John A. Kirchgraber, a 2011 UB computer science graduate who also earned a bachelor's degree in English literature, works as a financial software developer at Bloomberg in the company's trading systems division in New York City.
He praised the efforts of Career Services.
"Career Services provided me with the resources to hone my resume, brush up on my interviewing skills and seek out internships that would be both challenging and well-suited to my abilities and interests," he said. "I actually wouldn't have applied for the internship that got me my current job had it not been suggested to me through Career Services and my professors."
"New York City-based Bloomberg is a great example of a company whose partnership with our office is solid. Bloomberg has attended UB Career Fairs, recruited on campus and hosted UB students and graduates on site visits to their office in New York City," Kaukus says.
UB's Career Services also has increased its efforts to find the internships Kirchgraber talks about, often in these highly successful companies recognized for their excellence.
"Internships give employers the opportunity to see first-hand the competencies and strengths of the student," says Kaukus. "For the student, they gain skills and experience while learning what it is like to work within an organization and on a team.
And often -- such as in Kirchgraber's case -- these work relationships lead to permanent positions at the companies.
"The data is decisive," Kaukus says. "In the 2011 Student Survey conducted by National Association of Colleges and Employers, it was reported that more than 61 percent of students who did a paid internship in the for-profit sector had a job offer at the time of graduation.
"Our role at UB Career Services is to nurture, develop and leverage the relationships that the university, our faculty and our alumni have created with companies and organizations and make something happen for our students and graduates," says Kaukus. "It's all about cultivation."