AccessUT, a restricted Web site at The University of Texas at Austin, is becoming a powerful tool in helping unemployed alumni find their next job during a sagging national economy.
The AccessUT Web site, is an online job and internship database within the university’s Hire Texas Web site that allows students and alumni to view postings from employers searching for their next hire, said Matthew Berndt, director of career services in the university’s College of Communication. He said Hire Texas, also provides employers a free, centralized place to post professional, career-related job and internship opportunities for students and alumni.
Berndt said AccessUT requires job seekers to use an assigned Electronic Identification (EID) to access the system. Those who do not know their EID may contact the Registrar’s Office at the university (512-475-7656) to claim a UT EID and temporary password.
Although Berndt and other career advisers on campus strongly recommend the AccessUT site to alumni who contact their alma mater for help in their job search, they also emphasize the importance of networking and other job search efforts.
“Job seekers need to recognize that looking for work involves a lot more than just going to Monster, CareerBuilder or Craigslist to see what’s available,” Berndt said. “They have to be very proactive and use all the resources available to them if they wish to be successful. Resources like AccessUT and alumni contacts are invaluable, but you have to know how to use them effectively. This is how we really help students and alumni–we teach them how to leverage the job search resources available and coach them through the process of finding a job or internship.”
Because the university’s career services are decentralized, the College of Communication is among the 17 schools and colleges on campus that offer career services to students and recent graduates. Berndt said Communication Career Services provides communication students and alumni career advising and coaching services. It also offers online job and internship search resources and opportunities to participate in campus interviews and resume referrals. Employment assistance to students is covered by their tuition. Service to alumni involves a nominal fee.
In addition to the schools and college counseling offices, another resource on campus is the Career Exploration Center in Jester Center, operated by the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs. It offers career counseling and testing for former students who were graduated within the last 12 months. Those who are eligible may participate in counseling services for a fee of $15 per appointment. The Career Exploration Center’s library reading room, which is open to the public, contains resources on occupations, academic majors, internships and graduate school.
Jennifer Duncan, director of alumni career services for the Texas Exes, the alumni association at The University of Texas at Austin, said she works with a wide range of alumni ranging from new graduates to seasoned professionals, on everything from job search to career transition to exploration.
“Most alumni understand the necessity of networking in today’s economy, but unemployed new graduates aren’t always aware of its importance until after they have graduated,” Duncan said. “That’s when they typically contact my office.”
Many of the services and resources available through the Texas Exes Career Services Office are considered “member benefits” available for free or a nominal fee.
“It is comforting to know that if the university’s alumni find themselves unemployed in today’s economy, career assistance is available from their alma mater in a variety of services and resources,” Duncan said. “More important, they need to remember that they are already part of a strong, built-in network of 400,000-plus alumni who span the globe. Texas Exes love helping other Texas Exes–there is a genuine willingness to help fellow Longhorns with professional and career needs, especially in tough economic times.”
Duncan said consultations provided at no charge as part of the organization’s membership privileges include a session called “Careers Over Coffee.” This is a once-a-week informal group that serves as a venue for alumni to tell their story, exchange networking contacts and job tips, and learn more about helpful career resources.
A new resource called “Careers in Conference” is similar to Careers over Coffee but is held via conference calls so alumni members outside of Austin may participate. Reservations for Careers over Coffee and individual consultations are required at least one week in advance by contacting Texas Exes Career Services or online via the Texas Exes Web site.
The Texas Exes also offer one-on-one career consultations, either in person or by phone, to help alumni evaluate their career focus and direction. Duncan provides resume critiques, job-searching resources, networking opportunities, interview and negotiating information and help with lifelong career choices. One free appointment–in person or via phone–is available per year as a benefit to Texas Exes members.
Coaching by phone or in person at the alumni center is available for a nominal fee for members seeking additional career assistance beyond the one free session, Duncan said. Coaching helps members through the career or job search process in developing a strategy, building action plans, staying focused, and tracking progress and goals.
Duncan said the organization also offers a variety of online career assessment tools at a minimal cost to help members identify personal work style, interests, personality preferences, ideal work environments and compatible career choices. Free interpretation of the test results and their application to career planning is provided by the Career Services Office, she said.
Other services include career-related seminars, information about job fairs and professional networking events in connection with Texas Exes chapters in various U. S. cities.
Another resource is the Texas Exes Career Network, which consists of Texas Ex members and university alumni who have volunteered to be career contacts who share career insight and experience with association members and students. They do this through informal discussions, job shadowing or participating in internships and special volunteer projects.
The Texas Exes also provides a Virtual Career Center that spotlights several career and job-listing sites for alumni and members to use, Duncan said.