Davenport Career Services: Lifelong Aid

September 29, 2006
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GRAND RAPIDS — On top of offering a real-world learning environment and instructors who actually work in the fields in which they teach, Davenport has a full-fledged career services department run by a team of job developers who identify current and future job opportunities and work to match Davenport interns and graduates to those positions.

Sue Squire, director of public relations, said Davenport provides career services to students long after their graduation. Any alum can take advantage of any career service at any time during his or her career.

“That might be one of the things that sets us apart,” she said. “Davenport’s emphasis is not only for graduates to get an initial career position, but also that its graduates advance in their positions. It’s just kind of a value-added thing that we do.”

Students can learn about various careers, prepare for their transition from college to career, and find out what jobs are available. Career services include career assessment and exploration, career coaching, résumé critiquing, interview preparation, and job search and résumé posting through CareerLink, a nationally acclaimed, free online service known as the Experience eRecruiting Network. CareerLink also posts information about recruiting events and seminars on campus.

Dave Veneklase, executive vice president for human and organizational development, said the university has a staff of 20 full-time people dedicated to career services activities. The team helps prepare students for the challenges of job hunting — and job “landing.”

“They work both sides of it,” Veneklase said. “They’re working with employers to identify employment opportunities and internships for our students. They also work very diligently with our students on writing résumés, developing interviewing skills, developing research skills and finding employment opportunities to prepare students to be successful in the search process.”

He said the career services function is a life-long commitment Davenport makes to its students. Davenport serves approximately 13,000 students each year through its main campus and its satellite locations across Michigan and northern Indiana, as well as through Davenport University online.

Veneklase said the bulk of the university’s job placement efforts are in Michigan because 90 percent or more of Davenport graduates tend to stay, live and work in Michigan.

“Job placement has always been very strong at Davenport; it’s something we have focused on since the very beginning of the university, and it’s something we take great pride in,” Veneklase remarked.

Davenport actually specializes in developing educational programs geared to the leading employment fields — fields such as business, technology and health care where workers are in high demand, he noted.

Davenport graduates who decide to make a career change at some point can use the university’s CareerLink system or access any other career service free of charge.

“If you’ve been out of the job market for many years, you may need to brush up on your résumé or your interviewing skills,” Veneklase said. Additionally, former students may want to refresh their educational skills by taking a course or two, he said.

Cody Pike graduated from Davenport in May and went to work as a staff accountant for Echelbarger Himebaugh Tamm & Co. in Grand Rapids. Pike said he met with career services staff initially to find out what steps he needed to take to secure an internship. The staff also helped him create a résumé and gave him tips on what to do and what not to do in an interview.

“They were just really helpful with the résumé part and gave me an understanding of what I should do,” Pike said. “It made me feel comfortable knowing someone was there who could help me through the process rather than just going out on my own and trying to figure it out for myself. If I had any questions, I could just call up anyone in career services and either set up an appointment or get some direction over the phone.”

Pike did two internships, one of them at Echelbarger Himebaugh Tamm & Co. He started his internship there in January, and it led to the offer of a job upon his graduation in May. He plans to register for and take the CPA exam within the next year to 18 months.

Pike said he would “definitely” take advantage of Davenport’s career services program again, particularly the résumé critiquing service when the time comes to freshen his résumé.    

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