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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Looking forward; Hiatt not helping

Published: January 17, 2014
Section: Opinions, Top Stories

I am a Creative Writing major. I chose Brandeis because of its creative writing department, with professors who cared enough to help me with my craft outside of class. I have been awarded a two-year creative writing thesis and have been labeled as a creative writing undergraduate departmental representative. I have groups on campus who will treat my characters like real people and give me constructive criticism. I have grown as a writer here on campus. But now I am a junior. After the spring of 2015, I will graduate, thrust into the real world, and as many people like to tell me, creative writing is not a “usable degree.” While I disagree, I believe that Brandeis Hiatt certainly is not helping me, or my fellow Brandeisians, in getting any sort of professional job.

When I was a first-year, it did not matter whether I held a professional internship or made any sort of network connection. I was free to write and live in the Brandeis bubble. But now that graduation looms on the horizon, I need to find both an internship and a job prospect. There are many arenas to explore for a creative writing major, be it publishing, journalism, teaching or communications. But Hiatt is unsure how to help me.

If anything, Hiatt is well-meaning. It hosts workshops and career panels and gives away free pizza during finals. Staff will review your resume and edit it. Hiatt staff are easy to meet with, friendly and professional.

But perhaps they just do not know how to go about helping you in the right way. Staff who review resumes alert you to nitpicky details, instead of pointing out larger flaws. Before going over any resume, Hiatt staff should sit down with the student and really get to know him or her. What are the students biggest strengths? What previous job experience do they have, and how are they the better for it? Instead, Hiatt staff will usually point out flaws in font choices and formatting. While presentation is still important for a piece of paper that will be viewed by potential employers, it is more essential to highlight a student’s key skills and assets.

Hiatt also has an intense affinity for B.hired, Hiatt’s information, recruiting and events database. Hiatt staff members make it sound like getting an internship is incredibly easy, and all you have to do is pick a professional area, go on B.hired and apply. However, B.hired has an incredibly small selection. If you were a creative writing major like me, you may type “publishing” into the search bar. This leads to 17 results. But a preliminary search shows that first of all, the application deadlines are very strange, sometimes a whole year in the future. Some were also posted as long ago as 2011. There are also far more than 17 publishing opportunities in the Boston area alone. B.hired presents Brandeis students with meager options. B.hired also requires that students apply through the site, which can often lead to glitches since students are going through another website instead of the company’s website.

When I first came to Brandeis, I pictured Hiatt as something different. I thought I would be able to come in and profess my interests and strengths to staff members who were knowledgeable about all areas and careers. I had hoped they could point out publishing companies for me, alert me to upcoming deadlines for communications internships. In short, I expected more of Hiatt, and I’m sure many other students did, too. Brandeis is a small school that promises individual attention. I may not be a physics or biology major, but that doesn’t mean I can’t get a job or an internship. I would just appreciate more personalized help from a career center that promises a “student/alumni-centered approach” that is rooted in the best interest of students.