Students’ networks outpace GoldPASS

Few alumni say the website helped them find employment.

Students’ networks outpace GoldPASS

Kristoffer Tigue

When agricultural education sophomore Vinz Karl needed work last summer, he found a job educating children about agriculture through GoldPASS, the University of Minnesota’s job postings website.

But not all students are as lucky as Karl. Despite eight years of operation, only a small number of University alumni report finding their jobs through the website. University officials chalk it up to small sample sizes in student job placement surveys, as well as the fact that GoldPASS is just one of many resources offered to students.

“It shouldn’t be the only thing people use when they’re searching for a job; it should be one thing that they use,” said Paul Timmins, Career Services director for the College of Liberal Arts.

Though the site listed more than 31,000 jobs in the last 18 months — and currently lists more than 1,400 — students looking for employment need to use every resource the University offers, Timmins said. This includes networking through peers and faculty, making connections with professionals and attending job fairs, he said.

Sociology and linguistics junior Caralin Walsh has used the Career Services Center to improve her resume, but she said she hasn’t used GoldPASS because she doesn’t want to learn a new system. Rather, she’s used Google to look for jobs with book publishers because the website is familiar and easier to use.

Technical communications sophomore Jeffrey Veilleux said he’s used GoldPASS to research potential jobs.

“I was using the site just to gauge what is out there, what is available,” he said. “What could I be looking for, for the next semester? What are the requirements that I must meet for a potential internship?”

Career and Internships Alumni Survey Summary Reports between 2006-07 and 2010-11 consistently show that less than 12 percent of surveyed alumni attributed their post-graduation employment to GoldPASS. In 2008-09, that number fell below 4 percent.

“Personal contacts” remains the highest reason for finding employment. Each year, about one in five alumni report it as their reason.

Becky Hall, Career Services Administration director for the Office of Student Affairs, said about 13 percent of students surveyed in 2012 said they found their job through GoldPASS.

Assistant Dean for CLA Student Services Chris Kearns said the survey data is the only tool officials have to measure the site’s effectiveness, but it’s far from a perfect understanding of the situation.

“I think we need better data on what the outcomes actually are before we can decide what we think about the investment,” Kearns said. “And we also need to know whether or not this fits into a larger set of services for career support for students.”

The alumni surveys are largely voluntary, meaning students can choose to answer all the questions or none at all. The latest data from 2011 show that out of the 635 students surveyed, only 205 shared how they found their current job.

Kearns said this data shouldn’t be ignored, but the sample it comes from isn’t large enough to draw conclusions. If anything, it points out a problem the University has with gathering proper survey results, he said.

“If GoldPASS is a success or a failure, that’s something that the University has an interest in knowing,” he said.