Career Education: New Challenges, New Resources
By Donald L. Margolis '63
Chair, Career Programs, Columbia College Alumni Association
When it comes to career planning, the phrase “times have changed” is a significant
understatement. When I graduated in 1963, most went directly to graduate school. This was
a necessity to maintain a student deferment from the military draft. While the cost of education
seemed high then, it was minuscule compared to today. Now, students seek summer internships
during college and full-time employment upon graduation with graduate school a future option.
The search for jobs is highly competitive, even for graduates from a top Ivy League institution.
This makes it vital for students to begin preparing for the job market soon after they arrive
To that end, the Center for Career Education (CCE) now is a critical part of a student’s
education. College students are in the fortuitous position of living in a world of exponential
opportunities. Helping students to identify and navigate these opportunities in an increasingly
globalized economy and prepare for life after graduation is CCE’s mandate. The center
provides individualized career counseling for students, encouraging them to create a career
plan. Professional staff help them prepare internship and job search plans, learn networking
techniques, craft resumes and practice interviewing skills. The center staff also runs an
online database of job and internship opportunities, three annual career fairs and networking
What can CCE do for alumni?
CCE offers services to alumni regardless of age or career path. Alumni contact the center
seeking guidance on résumé writing, networking techniques, interview practice
and career transition.
Counseling appointments are conducted with alumni by phone or e-mail and in person. Alumni
can use the center’s job listing database by registering at the CCE
click on “Learn More About Career Education,” then click on “Find a Job,” then
create an account with ColumbiaTrak.
What can alumni do for current students?
There are many ways alumni can and hopefully will get involved.
1. Internships: In a competitive global economy, gaining experience
through internships is crucial in securing full-time employment. Learning about the professional
world is an essential component of career choice and decision making. Because the cost of
education is so high, many students need paid internships during the summer. Others are
able to accept non-paying positions to broaden their experience. All may need help to cover
transportation and living expenses. This year, CCE has arranged about 20 new internships
with the assistance of Columbia’s London and Hong Kong alumni clubs. About half are
paid positions, and CCE provides funding for living expenses and transportation for those
who need it. CCE also provides aid to some needy students who accept non-paying internships.
2. Permanent employment: Today, most graduating seniors seek employment
immediately after college. Alumni can help them by urging their companies to contact CCE
with internship and permanent job opportunities. Hiring Columbia graduates provides both
your company and the student with meaningful benefits. The benefit to the student is fairly
obvious. And alumni can be sure that they are hiring a highly educated and motivated student
with an enviable combination of knowledge, interests, communication skills and abilities.
3. Columbia Career Connections: This new online career networking tool
will bring students and alumni together as part of an online community. By networking
with alumni, students will gain a unique insight into a variety of career areas while
making potentially valuable contacts. Alumni who are willing to be networkers and contacted
by students with career questions can sign up on
the web. Alumni will remain
anonymous, identified by e-mail address only, unless they wish to make themselves known
and take the relationship to a more personal level.
4. Site visits: Through CCE, alumni invite students to their place
of business to learn how companies operate and the types of job opportunities that are
available. A company tour is combined with a presentation from a human resource professional
covering the industry, company and internships. Some recent examples include the United
Nations, NBA, NBC, Simon and Schuster and the American Museum of Natural History.
5. Career panels and networking nights: CCE holds on-campus functions
with various industry representatives. Most are Columbia alumni who exchange ideas and share
their job experiences with the students. Several hundred alumni have taken part in these
events in recent years. Career areas include education, creative writing, science, publishing,
TV, film, public relations, marketing and museums.
Financial support for internships
Dean Austin Quigley has indicated that enhancement of the CCE is one of his top priorities.
Alumni wishing to contribute to CCE for internships as part of their annual giving may send
donations to the Columbia College Fund, earmarked for current-use internship expenses. Alternatively,
contributions can be made to the existing Roger Lehecka [’67] Endowment Fund, which
helps support students who are financial aid recipients and are taking unpaid internships.
Lastly, alumni may establish an internship endowment fund of $50,000 in any name.
To offer internships or full-time employment, participate in site visits, career panels
or networking, or to make an appointment for help and advice with employment and career
needs, contact Kavita Sharma, dean, Center for Career Education, by
or 212-854-3561. To donate for CCE internships, mail your contribution to The Columbia
College Fund, Columbia College Office of Alumni Affairs and Development, 475 Riverside
Dr., Ste 917, New York, NY 10115-0998.