College is all about networking. It’s about building your own network out of the people you meet, the professors you take, and the people you work with. The whole point of going to college isn’t necessarily to enhance your learning abilities, but to be able to use your school’s and professor’s networks to connect with potential internships and job opportunities.
Siena loves to brag about their 95.13 percent job placement rate, which simply means the number of students who find jobs in their field after graduation. And more importantly, they love to show off that in 2019, they were chosen as the number one school in New York and ninth in the whole country for job placement.
You might remember from the days your travelled across campus as a prospective student or all the speeches you sat in on during orientation where Siena officials told you about the Career Center, CareerSaint, and of course, our huge alumni network. Your parents are satisfied to learn that the school their child is going to is going to fully prepare them for life after college, with high rates of employment, and excellent programs and professors to help the young reach for the stars.
As a Senior, who will be graduating in May, I haven’t seen a damn thing I was promised.
I came to Siena for three reasons: 1) it was cheapest option, 2) it was in the state of New York (where I was bound and determine to live since I was little), and 3) the golden promise of the alumni network.
My mother told me a thousand times: “All schools have alumni networks.” I didn’t listen to her, blew it off actually. Why? Because no other school was promising the amazing job opportunities through their alumni networks like Siena. So it had to be good, right? Well, where are they at? Because I don’t see them.
Where are the job opportunities I’m supposed to be seeing? Don’t see those either.
As a person with a 3.62 GPA currently, co-runs a club, works part time at a coffee shop, all while balancing a full course load: I’m clearly not a bad student and I clearly have ambition. Yet, I’m sitting here wondering where the hell I’ll be after graduation or even how to get where I want to go after graduation. Will I be working at Panera another year, trying to find a post-grad job? Or will I be in New York City with an exciting journalism job like I dreamt and planned to happen after graduation?
They advertise on Twitter that they’re “A Best Value College,” yet students are paying 50k a year for their professors to not help them find internships, or use their networks to help students advance into their chosen fields. You’re not seeing the Career Center push potential jobs toward students, just sending us open interviews at Target.
Sure, you can go to the Career Center and get resume help and interview prep, but you have to have everything set up to get any help. The interview, the job application, finding the job, it’s all on you.
When I imagined how Siena would help me find a job, I imagined my advisor helping me search for good jobs and recommend programs and internships that would help me advance my career options. I imagined professors reaching out to students with internship opportunities they thought you’d be good at or had a good change at getting. I imagined the alumni network being a huge presence on campus with job calls and opportunities being lined up, like they seem to promise you it would be. Much like one of my friend’s colleges lives up too. Instead, CareerSaint is no better than Google and seem to have less offers.
My friend, Isabella Valadas, goes to Westfield State University in Massachusetts after transferring from Siena her Freshmen year. She interned as a Victim Witness Advocate at the District Attorney’s Office of Hampton County, as well as, interned in the Public Affairs department of Westfield’s President’s Office, all that were handed to her through a professor who thought it would be a good fit for her. Now, I’m not saying she didn’t put the work in, because she did. She had to apply, prepare for an interview, ace the interview, and perform well on the job. In addition, she used her college’s Career Center to help her prepare, which took her reaching out for help. She also applied and got accepted to the Disney College Program all by herself, finding the opportunity on her own and then using the school’s resources to help her prepare for it. But so much more than that goes into getting the internship, without her professor mentioning the internships to her and using the network available from years in the field, Valadas would have even heard of such opportunities, nor would have had access to them without her professor using her network to help her students.
That’s what college is supposed to be like. What’s the point of building relationships with your professors if they’re not going to pull some strings to pass down some amazing opportunities you wouldn’t have known about without them? So much of building a successful career is building your network, but without the help from those in the field and those with connections, it’s hard to get up from ground zero.
So I just want to point out that, in fact, that 95.13 percent job placement is the students hard work and abilities, not the college’s doing. Perhaps, some students have experienced more from their professors, but it seems those in the Liberal Arts, and especially English, do not feel this way.
As I sit in my English capstone – which is supposed to prepare you for grad school, notthe job field – I find the majority of the class have no idea what to do or where to go for the next step. And those of us who are a) not going to grad school (me), or b) not going to grad school right away are left hanging. Although I have learned some good tools about marketing myself to future employers (shoutout to Dr. Snyder), so many of us are still left saying, “What now?” and no one seems to have any answer for us.
What’s even worst to me is that I learned through this class that advisors are told to “just get us to graduation.” Excuse me, what about after? You’ve all done it, you all have friends who are out in the world with Bachelor’s degrees doing their thing…how did they do? What do I need to do to do that? When should I be applying for jobs? Is grad school even worth doing for what I want to do? What if I don’t want to teach? What happens next? How do I even find what I’m looking for?
What’s the point of getting us to graduation and then leaving us hanging to figure it out ourselves? Some people are spending 50k to be released into the job field with a big question mark on their forehead.
Westfield Career Center’s Instagram literally marketstheir Seniors on their page. Showing their headshots, and leading to their LinkedIn pages, mentioning their interests directly on the flyer, their majors and minors, and their location. Not to mention that professors and the Career Center email them jobs and internship opportunities and networks with other colleges and businesses throughout the country to help their students.
Siena? They offer headshots and resume nights and what seems to be never ending accounting job fairs. All of that is important, but is it enough?
“They showed me how to use Indeed, and that was helpful, but we really don’t have any kind of alumni network for my specific field that I’ve ever been exposed to,” Carli Scolforo, ’21, said, who studies English and Communications Journalism and hopes to land a job in music journalism.
Valadas mentioned her experiences at Westfield outshine her experiences at Siena, especially when it comes to professor involvement. “I went up to my professor [at Siena] and said, ’Hey, do you know any internships taking Freshmen?’ and she said ‘I don’t know, I really can’t help you with that.’” It seems Siena’s standards are low when it comes to the expectation that their professors and programs are supposed to actually help students achieve their dreams, instead focusing on preparing you for more school.
This isn’t high school, Siena. Some of us aren’t going to grad school.
“The differences on career focus I noticed when I transferred to Westfield State were astronomical,” Valadas said. Westfield students receive weeklyemails from the Head of the Career Center with job opportunities across all fields and the promise (and follow through) of reaching out to their connections to get your in contact with any of them, on top of the usual (resumes, interview prep, and LinkedIn profile help).
I want that. That’s what I was supposed to get. That’s what I paid for. That’s not what I got.
So, stop advertising something you don’t produce. Your students deserve better.