An open letter to the Career Center

Dear Colby Career Center,

First of all, I want to say a sincere “thank you” for putting effort into finding Colby contacts in the media industry. It’s the first time I’ve seen that happen, and I’m grateful for all of the time and money was put aside for students wanting to go into media-based fields.

However, the ‘Colby on the Road: Media Track’ trip highlighted many of the things that I’ve been frustrated with throughout the past few years. The Career Center representative on the trip asked questions in the panels that he should have known long ago (Do I submit a portfolio when applying for a PR job? How can a sophomore prepare for a career in this industry?) and it showed a clear lack of training for counseling students who apply to these types of jobs. Throughout the entire day, a Colby-hired photographer followed us around and took flash photography even in one-on-one networking conversations. Not only did that make everyone seem a little more on-edge and uncomfortable, it also felt like Colby was saying “this is not for your benefit, this is so we can have some cool propaganda to show how much we care about media fields.”

It’s also crucial that I point out that all of the panels and presentations were organized by a Colby parent who used her own networking tools to find Colby-related people. When I talked to her, she said that every single person there was someone she had found, with no thanks to the Career Center.

This reflects some of the bigger issues in the center that I’m hoping will change in the near future. If counselors in the Career Center are better trained in understanding what the media fields look for, they will be able to actually help revise resumes and cover letters. Recently, when I had to get my resume approved in order to apply for ‘Colby on the Road,’ they offered absolutely no helpful advice in terms of wording or structure: the Center’s only tip was that I needed to get rid of the color I used in my headings. In the film and TV industry specifically, some people come in with incredibly well-designed and visually appealing resumes: submitting a black and white resume is not nearly as common, and my bosses all recommended adding color. They also offered no advice on my cover letter for a recent job application, but peers and family members were able to provide changes that the Career Center employees didn’t catch.

The most important issue, though, is that the Career Center has a great lack of emphasis on the importance of building a network. I’ve asked for media contacts every year since I’ve been at Colby, and have come away with exactly one recommendation, which didn’t pan out because they couldn’t provide his email. They have never given me an outlet through which to find Colby connections: their only advice has been to get a LinkedIn profile and search for media contacts, which is essentially like telling someone to log onto Facebook and search for friends.

My hope is that, as the Career Center grows and more students in media-related majors demand help, we’ll stop getting offers to apply for TFA and start seeing some opportunities in different realms. In order for this to happen, I implore Career Center employees to talk directly to recruiters for film, TV and publishing companies to understand what they’re looking for. Create a list of Colby connections (parents and alum) and teach students how to network, how to keep in touch with contacts and how to find jobs outside of application-based, post-college programs.

Respectfully,

Megan

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