Daily Egyptian

Proposed cuts threaten Career Services

By Heather Cachola, @HeatherCachola

The campus center that strives to serve students preparing for their futures is also one being threatened by budget cuts. 

In response to Gov. Bruce Rauner’s proposed budget, SIU President Randy Dunn asked the office of Career Services to present the effects of a 50 percent reduction in state funding, amounting to a nearly $147,000 cut. Career Services’ total budget is $338,658, of that amount, $293,658 is the state appropriations. The remaining $45,000 of the money is funded by revenue from career fairs, which are paid for by employers attending the fair, not the students.

Dunn has proposed this exercise because the department, which helps with résumé building, choosing a major and job interviewing, was deemed a non-academic service. The cut represents the entirety of state funding that makes up the center’s budget.

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The majority of money from the state is used to fund employees’ salaries within the department, said Doug Reichenberger, director of Career Services.

“If we had to cut staff, it would mean cutting all of our graduate assistants and we would also be losing at least one of our civil service staff and the undergraduate assistant position as well,” Reichenberger said. “It would mean a 50 percent reduction in our staff here.”

He said undergraduate assistants collect employer data and graduation data to help with annual reports. The center employs four professional staff, two civil service staff, four graduate student staff, one undergraduate assistant, one worker in the undergraduate and graduate assistantship office and four work-study students.

Casey McFadden, a graduate student from Hoopeston in the College Student Personnel program, is one of the four graduate assistants that will lose her job if the budget proposal is approved.

“The GAs provide a key service for the students. We meet with approximately half of the students that come through our office,” McFadden said. “We do a majority of the work with the undergraduate students, so it would make a major cut if all the GA positions were eliminated from our office.”  

Reichenberger said the center met with 1,700 students through individual appointments in 2014.

As of April, the office has seen more than 800 students individually and has made contact with 1,800 students for presentations, résumé workshops and tabling at events, according to a report by the office of Career Services.

“The center helped me to land an internship with Boeing Information Technology at their Bellevue facility near Seattle for the summer of 2015,” said Christian Garcia, a freshman from Bartlett studying computer science.

Garcia will take on a full-time position with Boeing after he graduates in 2018.

The center is one of the few career service opportunities for students on campus, and this makes the center a valuable asset for students — unless students feel that the Career Services Center is too broad to help their major.

Sarah Heitz, a senior from St. Charles, Mo., studying animal production, said the center does have room to improve.

“They need to have more people that can relate to what industry you’re applying,” Heitz said. “Such as animal science, they don’t have any workers that are there to answer our specific questions or help us with a mock interviews pertaining to that major.”

Even without the specificity to every college, the center attempts to cover the entirety of campus through their different opportunities. 

In addition to outreach efforts, the office offers learning experience for graduate student employees. The graduate assistants working at the center come from the educational psychology program, college student personnel program or through the center’s workforce development program.

“It would have a huge impact on us… I don’t know where else we would refer them because there is no other office on campus that is either providing professional development or the counsel that we provide,” Reichenberger said.

He said in an email Tuesday he has a plan in place to supplement the loss in state appropriations. Plans include adding another Career Fair during the Spring 2016 semester, increasing registration fees for employers by $50 and selling sponsorships to employers for Career Services career fairs, web pages and printed publications. He said he will try to keep the center fully staffed and provide the resources students and alumni count on for career exploration and professional development.

Heather Cachola can be reached at [email protected]

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