Did You Forget Us, Amica?

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“There’s nothing offered for me. Amica does nothing for Communication majors.” These kinds of complaints are heard fairly often among Arts and Science students, especially when the Career Fair rolls around. I must admit, I have done it too, and in fact, it was even my reason for writing this article. However, I am done complaining. As Arts and Science Students, we have been quick to throw the blame on the Amica Center when we feel we are lacking opportunities. However, after meeting with Dr. Kevin Pearce, Chair of the Communication Department, and Lauren Cotnoir of The Amica Center, I feel I have to take partial blame here, and tell you why you should too.

From the looks of the employer list, it seems that most companies at the Fall and Spring Career Fairs are in finance, insurance, or accounting. In other words, they want business majors. This may be true, but it certainly is not because of Amica. Dr. Pearce and Lauren both told me that when it comes to companies looking for Arts and Science majors, there is a different hiring cycle than that of companies searching for business students. A lot of us do not realize this and we do not know that many of these business firms have a high turnover rate and can predict that they will have a spot available for a recent accounting graduate months in advance. “They know what their needs are,” Lauren explained to me. This isn’t always true for positions in say, publishing or design. These firms will tend to have an immediate need when a position opens up, and they cannot wait for a Spring Career Fair to find their next hire. “They may have just one need.” Pearce says, “In the end, Arts and Science majors get good jobs, in fact just as good as anyone else.” It is important to make Arts and Science students aware that the timing for them is different than for their Business friends.

To make up for these hiring cycles, Amica has recently started a second Spring Career Fair. Last year, the “Last Call Career Fair” featured many employers searching for Arts and Science students. This year, the Spring Career Fair is even more improved. Lauren says that the “Spring into Opportunities Career Fair,” on April 5th, will be even more selective about the companies that attend, opening up many available opportunities for Arts and Science students. “The goal is for this to be an event geared toward Arts and Sciences.” She understands that waiting until April or May can be scary for a graduating senior, but that is the time when the firms appealing to Arts and Science students are more likely to hire, as they can wait a few weeks to fill the position rather than months, had they hired back in the fall.

When it comes to determining the employers that attend career fairs, or any campus recruiting events, Lauren tells me there are various resources for scouting companies. Patricia, who works in The Amica Center, is solely in charge of New Employer Development. According to Lauren, Pat currently has over 200 companies that she is working on right now, in various stages of development, primarily geared towards Arts and Sciences. Apart from that, when students report hires to Amica, there is often an “in” to then show that company, “Look what our other students can do.” Alumni are also helpful in developing new employer relationships, acting as a lead with their companies to get Bryant’s foot in the door. Some companies even come to Amica asking to meet students. Lauren also lists off professional networking associations, referrals, the Bryant Parents Council, and Amica’s own research, proving that there is constant effort and progress being made to promote Bryant students to companies. She then told me about companies such as the Nielsen Company, Simon and Schuster, NBC Universal, and even the U.N. that have numerous Communications positions in their companies. “We’re actively trying to get relationships established with these companies,” she said. The Amica Center is currently reviewing the format of their large fairs. They are exploring ideas for hosting smaller, targeted events, geared towards business students, which will help free up additional booths at the larger fairs for different companies with the focus on Arts and Sciences.

With their current employers, The Amica Center is looking to advance the opportunities for all students by telling companies, “You should come to Bryant for more than just business.” “It’s unfortunate that in the community, there’s still the perception that Bryant is a business school,” Pearce says. Pearce would like to see more Arts and Science related employers in, but says that he sees Amica taking steps in the right direction. Amica tries to stress that Arts and Science students have the potential to fit in somewhere at any organization by saying to employers, “You come to us for this, but how about this…” Lauren explains how, even with companies like Fidelity that tend to recruit supply chain and finance students, there are communications and branding departments that could use other students. Pearce agreed saying that so many recruiters get it stuck in their minds to go look for a marketing major, or other specific majors, when they have jobs that may be perfect for different students, like Communication majors. Lauren emphasizes that it is possible for Arts and Science students to work for any sort of company, whether or not it is something they would usually gravitate towards, and that should be taken into consideration. Pearce says it is about nudging employers towards thinking about Arts and Science students and educating employers on different majors. They often don’t realize they could be hiring an array of students until it is pointed out to them. As an Arts and Science major, there is a much broader career base to focus on, meaning more opportunities, on more paths. Lauren says that The Amica Center is doing the best it can to open up the minds of employers and she believes they are making headway. “My hope is that you’ll continue to see more and more opportunities every year geared towards the College of Arts and Sciences.”

To close the gap between the opportunities offered, Amica suggests taking advantage of several other services. The Volunteer and Internship Expo happens every semester and includes many nonprofit, government, and public service organizations that tend to interest Arts and Science students. In the fall, Amica is hoping to host its own government and nonprofit career fair. Various info sessions and panel discussions are held throughout the year for students in Arts and Sciences, there are site visits to different organizations, and industry nights such as the upcoming Arts, Fashion, Sports, and Entertainment on March 1st. The Amica Center even hosts larger programs like the New York Fashion and Business trip, which they plan to extend to allow students more time with employers. They are also working to expand the program to include an “Explore Washington D.C.” trip focusing on careers in government.

What both Lauren and Pearce have enlightened me to is the fact that it is not always lack of opportunity so much as a lack of attendance, so many Arts and Science students are not taking the initiative to take part in other events and services. “Numbers across the board, they’re low,” Lauren reveals as she tells me how only three Arts and Science students attended this event, or only nine attended that. Amica takes the smaller size of the College of Arts and Sciences into consideration, but those numbers still sound lower to me than they should be. Pearce stresses that, “Arts and Science majors need to first take advantage of everything that is offered.” He tells me that students will come to him claiming they are having trouble finding any opportunities, but when he asks them what they have done so far, they tell him nothing. Pearce chuckles as he says Arts and Science students are notorious for not taking advantage of what is offered to them. He strongly suggests that students jump on the several courses (especially writing), events, and services they have access to.

There is so much that students can do to give themselves a leg up. In the Communication Department, they host their own alumni event at the end of the year. Students can meet Communication graduates, ask questions, and take business cards. They work hard and like to see that graduating students connect with alumni in the fields they plan to go into. Pearce would like to see more segmented events on campus, but knows it isn’t always plausible for every major when some may only have a dozen students. Luckily, Amica works with all students.

Pearce believes that Amica has many more events than most of us know about. That is where Lauren comes in. She suggests trying the one-on-one career coaching appointments, offering students tons of resources in various industries, and building plans specifically for them. Lauren emphasizes that Amica wants to build strong relationships with students and clubs. They are always willing to host workshops, join on brainstorming sessions, or whatever else. Any student club can reach out to talk about anything that interests them. Lauren states that the goal is to be accessible to students as much as possible. “We never want students to think we’re not here for them,” she says. Students have access to the career services while on campus and after graduation. Amica will support you no matter what path you choose.

Pearce does believe that a big change has been going on since Dr. Kevin Gaw was hired as the Director of The Amica Center. Pearce tells me that Dr. Gaw has been to all of the Arts and Science chair meetings, and that he really is trying to “move the boat in the right direction.” He thinks that an expectation for opportunities and focus to be evenly split between Business and Arts and Sciences is a bit much. It is recognized that there is still a strong perception that Amica does nothing for Arts and Sciences, but Pearce thinks that these complaints are no longer warranted under Dr. Gaw. “Before you solidify your opinion that Amica does nothing, go see what Amica does.”

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