by Stephanie Whittaker
Dino Nizzola feels justifiably proud whenever he visits Concordia's new Commerce Placement Centre.
Nizzola was president of the Commerce and Administration Students Association (CASA) last year, and was responsible for getting the facility up and running after a majority of students voted in a general assembly to fund it.
In fact, the Commerce Placement Centre was a student initiative from the beginning, two years ago, when a group of frustrated business students decided it was time students in their Faculty had their own career centre. "All major business schools have special placement centres just for their business students," said the centre's director, Cherine Zananiri.
Although Concordia's commerce students have traditionally had access to the university's career and placement service, they wanted to create one that would cater exclusively to their needs.
"The career and placement service is geared to the whole university and, as such, must be democratic in satisfying the demands of all the Faculties," Zananiri said. "The Commerce students were frustrated by the lack of companies coming to the school to recruit business students."
While it has never been difficult to attract accounting firms to recruit on campus, the students also wanted a broad array of management-related companies, she said. To finance the placement centre, the CASA held an assembly in the spring of 1997 at which students voted to approve the levying of a fee totalling $1.50 per course credit. The money covers operating costs.
Zananiri, a former Concordia Commerce graduate who has always worked in the education sector, was hired by the students to run the office with the help of a placement counsellor and a receptionist. Although the office was functional by last April, it was formally christened at a cocktail party in September.
Zananiri says the university Career and Placement Centre will continue to help Commerce students by teaching job-search techniques, résumé-building, networking skills and so on. But the Commerce Placement Centre will focus on making contact with companies for on-campus recruitment.
She added that because the service is so new, many students are unaware of its existence. "We've met with the student associations and have asked them to inform other students about the centre," she said. "In addition, the graduate students will be getting e-mail to advise them, and a few key students have announced the centre's opening in their classes."
An estimated 40 students already drop in at the centre each day. Zananiri said she has asked professors to identify some of the star students. One of the centre's roles will be to match graduating students with job openings.
While accounting students will be wooed by some 20 on-campus recruiters this autumn, management students will have access to about 24.
"Our goal is to get 50 companies," Zananiri said. "The students are happy that there are now some
new names among the ones that are coming."
Students will be given access to the centre's services for one year after graduation. In fact, Commerce
graduate Dino Nizzola is currently searching for a job with the centre's help.
"It took us a year-and-a-half to open the office, from finding space to hiring staff, but I know it's here to stay," Nizzola said. "I think this is the best initiative the students' association has ever undertaken."
Seen at the official opening of the Commerce Placement Centre last month are Lea Mirabilia (secretary), Nicholas Houseman (president, Commerce Graduate Students Association), Cherine Zananiri (director), Chris Palin (president, Commerce and Administration Students Association) and Katherine Brady (placement officer).