Armed and ready with resume referrals, company contacts, and loads of advice for more than 3,000 job searching students every year, the UMR Career Opportunities Center staff is in the business of making futures.
Busy finding their way around campus and acclimating to college life, most freshmen view graduation and job-hunting as somewhat remote possibilities, but it’s never too early to start the process, according to COC Director Lea-Ann Morton. "The biggest misconception is that freshmen think ‘Well, I’ll wait till I’m a senior," Morton says. "They really need to come in as a freshman," she adds.
Ben McCarthy, a senior ceramic engineering major, gives the COC credit for helping him in his job search. "I have worked with the COC since I came here as a freshman. I have utilized their services and when needed I was able to find a job for summer and for a co-op position. … I have been impressed with the service that the COC has provided me and their commitment to helping students."
According to Morton, students who utilize the COC are giving themselves a head start in the post-graduation race. "Ninety-two percent of students last year who reported to our office had firm plans at graduation, which include a full-time job, graduate school or returning to their home country," Morton says. Not only do these students have plans, but also they are already on the road to financial success. "Our average starting salary was $47,309, which is a little higher than the national average for engineering," Morton adds.
The COC staff not only helps students find post-graduation employment, but it also assists them in finding internships and cooperative education programs, which can help them secure a permanent position according to Morton. "From an employer’s perspective, they are going to hire a co-op or internship student because that student has experience. … The employer won’t lose down time in training and loss of production. So those students start giving back very quickly."
Morton is pleased with the recent upswing in co-op programs at UMR. "This is the first time co-op participation has increased in five years. It has been on a steady decline, but the summer was up and the fall is already up. So we’re really excited about this increase," she says. Students who participate in co-op programs get the added benefit of a good salary — the average co-op salary is $2,501 per month.
The list of services at the COC is so impressive; one wonders how an eight-member staff does it. From providing job listings to on-campus interviews, the COC staff can tell you who, what, where, when — and they can even tell you if the suit you’re wearing is a job search "do" or "don’t."
"We do about 30 different workshops a semester, from how to write a resume to how to negotiate that $60,000 a year job," states Morton. The COC offers several interview rooms for employers and even dressing rooms for students who might be coming straight from class. "We have 23 interview suites on this floor where all the employers come. … We have dressing rooms in the restrooms so a lot of students will come in wearing a baseball hat and tennis shoes, go into the bathroom and come out in a nice suit."
How does COC do such an excellent job placing students in rewarding careers?
- The COC staff has inside information about what employers are looking for in a potential employee, and they can help students write resumes tailored toward a specific company. Students can post and store up to ten different versions of their resume online, and the COC will refer resumes to employers who request them, averaging about 3,000 resume referrals a semester.
- Over 400 governmental agencies, companies, and institutions conduct recruiting, interview activities, and cooperative education programs through the COC, including ExxonMobil, Harley Davidson, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Department of Defense, Boeing, General Electric, General Motors, and Ford Motor Company.
- The COC hosts two career fairs throughout the school year, and about 100-150 employers attend each event.
For more information about the Career Opportunities Center’s services, you can download the UMR Career Center’s Manual (in pdf format) and find out what the COC can do for you AND your future!