Op-Ed: Helping students reach their career goals

March 20, 2012, 7:26 p.m.

As director of the Career Development Center (CDC), I was dismayed and disappointed when I read the March 9 op-ed piece “Perceptions of higher education.” The author examines the Career Development Center’s employer Partnership Program and inaccurately concludes that the CDC is not concerned about the needs of students and instead “leverage(s) them for profit.” Helping students pursue their interests is the very core of our work at the CDC so I’d like to respond to some of the claims in this article.


The author fails to recognize the mainstay of CDC services that are clearly focused on student needs. The CDC seeks to serve all students, assisting those who are undecided and uncertain, as well as helping those students who have clear ideas of what they want to do after college. The CDC has a dedicated group of hardworking career counselors who specialize in a wide range of areas, including public service, international careers, arts, media, communication, liberal arts, academic careers, sustainability, business and engineering. Each career counselor sends out newsletters, organizes programs and offers services for their respective fields. They also maintain an extensive listing of resources to support different student interests.


The author’s argument that the CDC favors large corporations by giving them “tremendous advantage” in contrast to “the crumbs non-profits receive” is also flawed. While financial resources can be helpful, it is actually supply and demand market forces and varying organizational goals that dictate employer activities. Banks and consulting firms typically hire larger numbers of students and they compete with each other to secure interview rooms at the beginning of each quarter; consequently, they are willing to pay to join the Partnership Program, because they make use of the related benefits.


Other types of companies have different recruiting needs and do not need to use the Partnership Program. For example, public service organizations are not interested in securing 20 interview rooms at the beginning of the quarter. For non-profits, the Partnership Program is not relevant and the CDC offers a number of other free and discounted services, including free listings of their opportunities through the CDC’s public service newsletter. Additionally, the CDC works closely with the Haas Center for Public Service to organize a wealth of programs and services focused on public service careers.


Many organizations, big and small, do not actively recruit at Stanford. Their hiring needs do not justify the expense of sending staff to spend a day on campus. I know that many students wish there were greater variety in the companies that actively recruit at Stanford, but the reality is quite a few companies expect interested students to contact them directly. While that may be frustrating for some students, the good news is that the CDC is available to help those students with the details of their job search.


At the CDC our objective is to help students identify and reach their career goals. I encourage anyone who has questions about the programs or services we offer at the CDC to contact me directly.

Lance Choy

Director, Career Development Center

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