College alumni tap school resources for job leads

College alumni tap school resources for job leads

July 6th, 2009 by Joan Garrett McClane and Joy Lukachick Smith in News


For more information about UT Knoxville Career Services check out its Web site at

As job prospects continue to dwindle, local college graduates are returning to their alma maters, hoping those connections will help them land on their feet.

Alumni offices and career centers in Tennessee and Georgia are working hard to meet the growing needs of financially strapped graduates.

"An overwhelming majority of college career centers are seeing an influx for services," said Stacy D. Ballinger, assistant director of career services for Lee University in Cleveland, Tenn. "Those who have graduated 20 years ago are coming back and saying, 'I need more help' or 'What else can I do with this degree?'"

The University of Tennessee Alumni Association, which serves alumni of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, is reacting to an increased demand for job hunting assistance by subscribing to a broad job database for all UT graduates, officials said.

The service, created by EmployOn Inc. and called Hire-A-Vol, has been used by Knoxville alumni for two years and has been so successful that officials plan to expand it to the Chattanooga and Martin campuses. The program will be up and running in the next few weeks, said Elizabeth Davis, a spokeswoman for the UT system.

UTC alumni should be able to access the database through the school's Web site, officials said.

From January through May this year, 584 people registered through Hire-A-Vol. Nearly 11,000 job opportunities were viewed through the Web site, according to data provided by UT Knoxville Career Services.

At Covenant College in Lookout Mountain, Ga., officials want to expand services to alumni by hiring a full-time employee to work specifically with young alumni, said Covenant College Alumni Director Marshall Rowe.

The new employee will work with former students to discover what they want to pursue, along with helping them find work, he said.

"Part of this program will be personality testing. So when they are looking for a job, they can get into interests and what they enjoy doing," he said.

Since January, Lee University's career center fields 10 to 20 calls each month from alumni who need help either finding employment or shifting to a new career, Ms. Ballinger said.

Many alumni want to know they can repurpose their education or degrees, she said.

"Many of the alumni are struggling with companies that may have downsized," she said. "We are trying to encourage them because the economy will turn."