By The Editorial Board
Last month, The Fordham Ram reported that more than 10 percent of graduates from the class of 2015 were still unemployed. It is hard to fathom that for many of our classmate it will take almost a year or longer to find a job after graduation. As a New York City school, Fordham does not lack alumni or adjunct professors in the tri-state area with which to connect for jobs and internships.
Fordham acknowledges the importance of networking as students attempt to navigate an overcrowded workforce. The university website states that “80 percent of people find their jobs or internships by networking.” To acknowledge the importance of networking for students searching for employment but to bury the information about the few networking opportunities available for Fordham students is contradictory. Yet this is the approach Fordham currently takes.
Alumni networking panels are promoted rather clumsily on the university’s website. Despite the fact that networking events are for students, the listing for the 2016 is located as an “Alumni event” under the Alumni tab on a page that redirects to Fordham’s website pre-2014 update. On the new website, the networking tab is buried on the main website under
Resources —> Career Resources —>Career Services —>Services —> Networking Opportunities —>Networking Panels.
Once the networking panel page is finally located, not a single link to a networking event is listed.
In reference to networking opportunities available for Rose Hill students, the Gabelli School of Business appears to have grasped the importance of networking better than the liberal arts school has. As early as a student’s freshman year, concentrations in the Gabelli school promote mandatory networking events for its students. In February, freshmen and sophomores attended a mandatory networking carnival for accounting, finance and information systems hosted by Beta Alpha Psi. Students are contacted every week about networking opportunities and at the mandatory freshmen advising meetings, academic advisors invite speakers from various companies to speak to students. Clubs like the Alumni/Student Supper club, in which small groups of students go out on networking dinners with alumni in their business field of interest, are devoted specifically to networking with alumni. Gabelli also holds a fall and spring “Networking Night,” in which students are selected to attend an all-alumni networking event in Manhattan and a Mentoring Program for undergraduates.
We believe that Rose Hill students would benefit from more professor involvement in the networking process. Our highly talented and well-connected professors should reach out to students about opportunities they are directly aware of. Professors with connections in a given industry are in a better position to connect students with leads directly, leading to a higher chance that a student’s resume will land on the desk of an employer than submitting it through an internet blackhole.
The problem is not a lack of university resources. Contact information for tens of thousands of alumni are available in the alumni directory hosted on Fordham’s website. This is a little known and underutilized, albeit structurally flawed, asset to the university. Career services also tracks recent alumni employment and makes the information accessible to the public.
However, the current system of networking, especially at Rose Hill, is too centralized to be effective. Individual departments must reach out to its students for networking opportunities with greater frequency. Though many departments send out frequent emails about events and internships, opportunities to connect with alumni are far less frequent Impersonal emails from Career Services often go undetected, even ending up in the spam folder of some email accounts.
We at The Fordham Ram would like alumni relations to be fostered within each department. Fordham produces many graduates who become high ranking leaders of industry and award winning professionals, but most students are unaware of the success stories that came before them.
If a department or career services is relying solely on mass emails or buried internet pages information promoting vague networking events for “fashion,” “media and communications” “and more!” then it is not ensuring that students are adequately connected to networking opportunities. Networking requires a personalized approached to serve its purpose.
It is true that students should also be forging professional connections on their own. In the digital age, there is no excuse for not utilizing all available resources possible. Making connections through different work and internship experiences are often be more worthwhile than forced networking events. However, students enroll at universities with the expectation that they will receive guidance from professors who have experience and contacts in their fields.
Fordham always touts its well-connected and experienced faculty, and most live up to the hype, but we find that many of those faculty members do not make an effort to connect their students to opportunities outside the classroom. While some students are fortunate to network through well-connected family members, many do not have that opportunity. It is difficult for a student to seriously network on his or her own when finding a place to start is a task in and of itself.