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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Hiatt connects students to futures

Published: November 20, 2014
Section: Features, Top Stories

In hopes of landing their dream jobs in an ever competitive job market, students on any given day shuffle into the Hiatt Career Center in Usdan Student Center, Room 15. Hiatt plays an important role in the Brandeis community on two levels, explained Hiatt’s Interim Dean and Director Andrea Dine. From the students’ perspective, Hiatt is their “ally.” Hiatt works with the students in exploring their interests, researching opportunities that could help them reach their career goals and developing professional skills needed in their area of interest. On a wider view, Dine added that Hiatt is the hub of different communities within Brandeis, and by holding events and communicating information, Hiatt connects current students, alumni and employers.

Further, Hiatt provides venues for students where they can benefit from the wealth of information and strong connections that Brandeis maintains with professionals. Seemingly, it does its job well. In 2013, 96 percent of graduates had been “employed, attended graduate school, or engaged in other meaningful activities within six months of graduation.”

Career advising at Hiatt is not merely about matching students with what is available. As students progress with their majors, they gain knowledge and skills from the discipline. Hiatt assists students in exploring the ways in which one applies what what was learned to real-world jobs. For example, knowledge in computer science is a highly demanded skill in the professional sphere, regardless of the area that students choose to pursue. There is demand for computer science majors from areas of “pure computer science, marketing or even education programs for immigrant high school students.”

Although there may not be a direct connection between computer science and these careers, Hiatt shows how the skills can be translated. According to Dine, philosophy is another example that has a similar demand. She explained that an education in philosophy provides a foundation for students to apply analytical thinking to a problem, examine the problem from various perspectives and provide a better solution as a result. As an example, there are instances when companies in health care and technology seek philosophy majors to develop different technologies that enable medical institutions to share patient information in an air-tight security system. These two examples demonstrate how Hiatt helps students channel the experiences they acquire in college to any field that students are interested in pursuing.

Employers seek people who can bring something new to the table. Dine explained that it is a combination of Brandeis students’ diverse academic backgrounds and interests coupled with the school’s liberal arts education that sets Brandeis students apart from others.

In addition, Dine pointed out that Brandeis provides students with opportunities to grow certain skill sets that will benefit their professional lives. A Brandeis education helps students work on their analytical and problem-solving skills, which are in high demand among employers, she said. Moreover, the oral communication classes and in-class discussions train communication skills, which are crucial in networking. Dine also elaborated that Brandeis students’ strong writing skills puts them ahead in the workforce.

One of the most valuable traits throughout the Brandeis student body is the fact that they are driven by enthusiasm in the issues that they are addressing. When employers see enthusiasm, it indicates to them the will to keep on learning after graduation and the will to become a lifelong learner. Dine added that students with enthusiasm will continue to take steps forward to higher goals with the organization.

“Students look at jobs after graduation as their job for a year or two. Companies instead, when hiring students, think about what their next steps within the company will be,” she said.

Hiatt reaches out to students by organizing information sessions and career forums throughout the year. One of the remaining events for this semester is the Senior Etiquette Dinner, organized by the alumni board to be held on Dec. 10. It is a dinner to help senior students learn professional etiquette so that they feel comfortable and confident in any event in their professional career that involves food.

In the coming semester, the two largest events are Social Justice Industry Night, where students can explore careers in social justice, and Marketing Industry Night. Both industry nights program case competition with different employers, panels with professionals in the field and rich opportunities to network. Information about events is found in Hiatt’s weekly email that is sent to the entire student body.

For first-year and sophomore students, for whom job searching may not be of immediate concern, Dine recommended attempting to better understand what one’s values, skills and interests are. These three things are the foundation of career development, not only post-graduation, but for one’s entire career, she said. Dine suggested that students try new things both in academics and leadership, or even attend industry nights with just the intention of learning what a job is like.