Navigating the Career Course
Campus2Career Transition Services (C2C) is beginning its third year as a leading nationwide career counseling firm based in Chicago. Their mission remains steady: to assist college students, recent college grads, and young professionals in determining and landing the right job. Since 2009, C2C has tripled their number of clients (40 percent live outside of Chicago) and placed 100 percent of their clients in jobs they were seeking in an average of 3.5 months—and at an average salary about one-third higher than the national average.
The characteristics of C2C’s clients remain the same: young adults who are bright and eager to be productive and possess excellent values and high standards. But the elements of the ongoing challenging job market have evolved into the “new normal” of a job search in 2012. These young men and women simply run afoul of a job market which today promotes anonymity over personal contact in the first instance, requires online applications that receive computer-generated acknowledgments if one is lucky, then uses algorithms and key words for initial follow- up, and finally, relies on selection criteria that are often mysterious and inconsistent.
Graduates become disappointed and discouraged, parents are dismayed because the high tuition they paid doesn’t yield more personal attention from the college, and both feel a sense of frustration that the student will have to settle for “anything,” including underemployment at a commensurately low salary, just to get a job. Add to this scenario student loan debt, and the prospect of a productive professional career and a decent living standard seems elusive.
The C2C method offers a one-on-one approach to its clients, helping them pinpoint their ambitions and pursue their chosen career path under the guidance of experienced and knowledgeable professionals. One of the initial phases of the process includes four or five assessment tests that allow C2C and the job seekers to bring to light their individual strengths and preferences.
“These assessments are important because we think of them as a foundation we build on,” says Frank Schroeder, C2C principal. “We consider the capabilities of the individual to make sure that there is consistency with their job interest.”
After C2C confirms a client’s interests and assets, they assign them a consultant to help develop essential marketing collateral. The consultant provides hands-on guidance and tips for résumé writing, personal presentation skills, mock telephone and video interviews, and proper business and email writing etiquette. The client and their consultant begin identifying organizations and people that will be relevant to the job search. Teaching clients how to recognize and expand their professional networks is an essential skill that will not only be crucial in their first job search, but will benefit them in future occupational endeavors. Consultants stay with their clients throughout the entire process.
As a client builds a professional network, C2C guides them in the process of interacting with a hiring manager or other decision-making professionals in the targeted organization—with their primary goal to help clients secure the ideal job. “I always say that it’s not a question of ‘if’ but ‘when,’” Frank says. “If you keep at it and present yourself as a self-confident and positive person who has done your homework on the organization, is passionate about what the company does and how you might be able to contribute, it will pop.”
Not only does C2C stand out with its personal approach and specific focus on young professionals, but it also boasts a highly talented and experienced management team and board of advisors. Coming from a wide range of professions and industries around the world, these associates have widespread contacts in the international business world. Each one has extensive experience recruiting, interviewing, hiring, promoting, and occasionally firing young people, and consequently has a thorough understanding of what companies are looking for in a potential employee.
With several local associates from Lake Forest, Wilmette, and Chicago, and others living in Montana, upstate New York, Zurich, Shanghai, and London, C2C provides clients with a virtually global networking system. Aside from their career-consulting expertise, the C2C associates have a sincere enthusiasm for helping and guiding young people. “They understand the wisdom of helping the next generation, because it’s that generation which will provide our future leaders,” Frank says.
“The best part of my job is watching these individuals succeed because, in the end, they did it,” he says. Not only is his work gratifying, but it also fulfills an important mission. “Companies, organizations, and communities really need talented people,” he says. “If what we do helps to put the right people in the appropriate positions, then substantive contributions have been made and everyone benefits.”
With the rapidly evolving nature of technology, Frank believes that now, more than ever, the creative talent of young professionals is much needed in many corporations and organizations. “We’re in a huge time of change,” he says. “In many ways, it’s a great time to be a young person. Challenges? Yes. Opportunities? You bet. But when you feel good about yourself and the job you’re doing, then you are well prepared to meet the challenges.”