Alumni Placement...Is on the Job

Placement Peopl
Placement director Mary McRee (center) and co-workers Jackie DiClemente, assistant director, and Mandee Varnadoe, secretary (left).
In an article in the Wall Street Journal about the role university alumni placement offices play in helping their alumni find jobs. It featured a Georgia Tech success story. When Neal Stubblefield's college alumni group calls for a donation, he pledges generously," the article said. "After all his alma mater helped him find his job.

"Ten years after Mr. Stubblefield graduated from the Georgia Institute of Technology, his employer ceded to a takeover and he was laid off. Soon after, he attended a job fair sponsored by Georgia Tech's alumni placement service. He got two job offers on the spot, and a short while later received the one he accepted."

Tech's Alumni Placement Director Mary McRee believes Tech's services are unique among the many university placement-type services. The feedback that we're getting from companies that come to the Career Conference and advertise in the Alumni Placement Bulletin is that they don't have anything to compare with it-that's why they keep coming back." McRee said.

Tech's career conference began in 1984, conceived by John B. Carter Jr., IE 69--now vice president and executive director--shortly before he joined the Alumni Association as director of marketing and director of placement. Carter, who had been chairman of an executive search firm, organized the career conference to serve the dual needs of alumni seeking career changes and company recruiters. He established an open resume book for recruiters to peruse, and blocked off time for job interviews to take place during the conference.

The event has been a success from the start. Corporate attendance at the eighth annual conference, held this past June, was down from previous years, reflecting a tough economic year, yet more than 75 major firms were represented and more than 1,300 alumni attended. Historically, 20 percent of alumni attending Tech's Alumni Career Conference receive jobs as a direct result of their participation. In addition to its career conference, Alumni Placement publishes a weekly bulletin that lists companies and firms with positions available. Alumni can receive The Bulletin free of charge simply by requesting it through the placement service at (404) 894-2394. Alumni receive a 13-week subscription to the employment newsletter, which can he renewed as often as desired. McRee said between 2,000 and 3,000 alumni receive the placement newsletter each week.

"The Bulletin provides opportunities for alumni in two ways," McRee said. "One, alumni can receive the bulletin when they are seeking employment because it is filled with job listings. Two, they can advertise job opportunities."

While alumni receive the bulletin free, companies pay to list job openings. But they consider it a bargain, McRee said. It can cost thousands of dollars for a company to hire an engineer through a recruiting firm, she explained. If they use our service, it costs a nominal fee. Companies like to get quality people, and Tech is known for its quality graduates."

Placement also has an annual sponsor program that includes full-page advertisements in four issues of Tech Topics, which goes to 77,000 alumni and friends; unlimited advertising in the Placement Bulletin; and participation in the Career Conference.

"The main thing is that we are devoted to serving Georgia Tech alumni, in no matter what capacity that might he," McRee stated.

This is certainly in keeping with the philosophy of the man who gave the placement program its start-the late George C. Griffin, CE '22, why achieved legendary status at Tech as student, teacher, coach and dean of students.

Griffin started the placement office, the second of its type in the country, in 1932. Griffin met a company representative wandering the halls of the Administration Building wanting to talk to someone at Tech about hiring some graduating seniors. Griffin sent him to the Chemistry Department, but the incident caused Griffin to recognize the need for a central office where the companies could come and interview seniors. He started the student placement center out of his own pocket, and later convinced the administration to support the placement center through its resources.

Griffin founded the Alumni Placement service in 1934. After his retirement as dean of students in 1964, he devoted more energy to developing alumni placement.

The late Fred W. Ajax, who left the English Department to serve as placement director from 1941 until 1958, made an indelible stamp on student placement services. Both Alumni Placement and student placement services are currently located in the facility named in his honor: the Fred W. Ajax Placement Center on Hemphill Avenue.

McRee said helping others find jobs gives her a sense of satisfaction.

"I get a great deal of pleasure in knowing that I have helped open a door for an alumnus," McRee said. "Generally it is just by sitting down and talking with someone about what they should do in conducting a job search. Sometimes I can see a light bulb come on, and they say, 'Why didn't I think of that?'

"It is exciting for me when someone calls me back to say, 'I got a job.' It just makes my day."