CDC director Kelly Barnett talks with a student in her CDC office

Newhouse's Career Development Center provides students with tools, skills to plot successful careers

By Emily Kulkus

November 16, 2016

The proverb says: “If you give a man a fish you feed him for a day. If you teach a man to fish you feed him for a lifetime.”

The same idea holds true in the Tina Press and David Rubin Career Development Center (CDC) at the Newhouse School at Syracuse University. The center does not “hand out” internships or jobs. What it does is provide students with skills training, personalized coaching, networking opportunities and access to powerful databases and alumni who can open doors and create pathways to bright careers.

“The CDC focuses on teaching students the necessary skills and tools in order to do a proactive job or internship search,” says CDC assistant director Bridget Lichtinger. “We teach them to be master networkers, to target and identify opportunities. They can create stellar marketing materials and cover letters. We’re not a placement service.”

And while Lichtinger jokes that she does not have a “drawer full of jobs,” the CDC resources available to Newhouse students are plentiful. Here’s a look at all the Newhouse CDC has to offer: 

The Career Development Center is chock full of resources and tools to help students in their job and internship searches. Photo by Gavin Liddell

Events and seminars 

One of the first times a Newhouse student comes in contact with the CDC is during Career Day, which is held on a Saturday morning every fall. All Newhouse freshmen are required to attend this CDC-sponsored event. Students listen to panelists according to their undergraduate major such as broadcast and digital journalism, advertising or public relations. Panels feature working professionals who talk about their job responsibilities, career history and even their salaries. The event is very helpful for students who are “waffling on what major to take,” Lichtinger says.

The CDC also hosts two career fairs a year—one in the fall and one in the spring. At each of the fairs, companies recruit students for internships or jobs. The events are great opportunities for students to network, hone their job-hunting skills and learn more about companies that are looking to hire.

“Employers regularly recruit from Newhouse because they know they will get a high-caliber student not just in education but in professionalism,” Lichtinger says.

Another way Newhouse students obtain both job-seeking and career skills is through CDC seminars, which are offered frequently during both the fall and spring semesters. Topics include organizing a job search; resume and cover letting writing; finding an internship and interviewing.

The CDC also hosts occasional speakers—frequently successful alumni—who visit Newhouse to speak with students and offer advice. 

Assistant director Bridget Lichtinger speaks with a student in the CDC office. Photo by Gavin Liddell

Skills training

Any good Google search will yield information on how to write a cover letter or find a job listings website. But many more details factor into landing an interview and eventually a job. That’s where the quality coaching and expertise of the Newhouse CDC comes in.

In seminars as well as in one-on-one sessions, CDC staff regularly counsel students on the finer details of a job search. For instance: what to wear to a job interview; what to say in a thank-you note; what to research before an interview; and how to leave a professional voicemail. In this fast-paced digital age, many of these skills need to be taught and practiced, Lichtinger says.

“I love millennials,” she says. “They are super creative. But what I feel they are missing are the old-school skills, like leaving a voicemail message. There’s a nuance to writing emails and watching your tone in those.

Millennials “know social media like the back of their hand,” she says. “But they’re lacking some of the basic stuff. It’s like a muscle that you’ve never used. It’s really weak until you start practicing it and using it and then it will get stronger.”

She gave an example of a student who wrote and mailed a well-crafted thank-you note after a job interview. Unfortunately, the note bounced back by mail—twice. The student was crushed and confused, says Lichtinger, who advised the student to bring the note to her office. Turns out, the address wasn’t complete. The student had addressed the envelope to one person in a large building but had not included the employer’s name. The mail carrier couldn’t find the person without the company name so the letter was returned. 

That’s where a trained CDC eye can help. The staff offers individualized coaching on small details like that while teaching another difficult but critical skill: patience.

“Patience is a huge, powerful tool in your career, in your networking and in job searching,” Lichtinger says. “You need to give people a couple of weeks and quell (the need for) instant gratification. It’s hard to teach patience.” 

As director of the CDC, Kelly Barnett encourages students to visit the office early and often. Both she and Lichtinger make the point that no undergraduate student walks into Newhouse and expects to know his or her selected field after just a few classes. Working with the CDC should be the same way—it takes time to get to know what resources are available and how to best use them.

“Like any investment, it takes time to reap the full benefits,” Barnett says. “We’re teaching skills they are going to use to land that first job but also for their second job and their third job and well into their careers.

“These are not only job skills, these are skills that you’re going to be using for a lifetime.”

The Career Development Center is located on the third floor of Newhouse 3. Photo by Gavin Liddell

The Newhouse Network

It’s impossible to talk about the Newhouse CDC without talking about the school’s incredibly powerful and loyal alumni network, known as the Newhouse Network. The Newhouse School’s reputation as a leading communications school is evident in the diverse and impressive accomplishments of its alumni.

Not only are members of the Newhouse Network leaders in communications fields across the country, they are also loyal to the younger students at their alma mater who are looking to follow in their footsteps. The CDC is the main conduit between Newhouse alumni and students, opening up channels into careers and industries that would otherwise take years to break into.

The Newhouse Network is an online community for alumni to network with one another for career guidance and opportunities and tap into the student populations to find interns, new hires or fresh ideas. Students can access the Newhouse Network after participating in the Job Hunt Marathon seminar. Network members can provide students with career advice and guidance, networking opportunities and possible employment.

“Relationships with alumni are a big part of what makes our office successful, offering internship and job leads, providing helpful advice and networking with students,” Barnett says. “They’re our bread and butter.”

One reason they are so loyal, Barnett says, is because they too can use the CDC services and many do. The CDC sends a weekly job listings email to alumni and staff are available to review resumes or cover letters for alumni at any time.

“All of the services we offer are lifetime,” she says. “We don’t just send students out into the industry and say good luck. We are here when they need us. It can be a week after graduation or 10 years after graduation. We’re here to help.”

Emily Kulkus ’02 is the web content manager at the Newhouse School. Reach her at eakulkus@syr.edu

Photos by Gavin Liddell, a freshman photography major at the Newhouse School. 

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