Did you know the average starting salary for a bachelor’s degree graduate currently stands at $45,327? Or that nearly two-thirds of graduating seniors from the Class of 2013 took part in an internship or cooperative education assignment while pursuing a bachelor’s degree?

Since 1956, the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) has been the leading source of information about the college job market and provides extremely valuable insight, such as the facts above.

DirectEmployers actively collaborates with NACE to provide employers timely and relevant content, networking, learning events and services to address both of our members’ needs around college relations and recruitment. We had the privilege of sitting down with NACE Executive Director Marilyn Mackes to discuss the benefits of internship programs, career services and how NACE benefits employers.

For employers who may not be familiar with your organization, tell me about what NACE.

The National Association of Colleges and Employers is just that. It’s professionals from 2,000 colleges and universities across the country and internationally, and about 1,000 employers who are actively hiring college graduates. What it really comes down to is really preparing and sourcing the workforce for the future.

How do employers get more involved with NACE? What are some membership benefits?

NACE is a membership organization and we have employers participating as members, both individually and as an organization. Right now, there are about 7,500 members who are part of the organization, but we’ve recently altered our membership model to enable employer and college members to bring more of their staff into the membership, so we expect that number to grow.

Employers can participate in everything from employer round tables to workshops to our annual conference to gain expertise and build a strong network of colleagues who are also interested in university relations and recruiting. Many of our events—such as our annual conference—bring together both sides of the field, so employers can also connect face to face with their campus counterparts. Employers also work with us in terms of research, gaining access to current benchmarks and best practices related to internships and recruiting, and information and data about student attitudes related to employers, jobs, and employment. Also, they can get current starting salary data through our Salary Survey. There are a lot of advantages to being a part of NACE if you’re an employer.

What is your role within NACE?

My job title is Executive Director. Part of my responsibility is to help this profession to move forward. The greater role that I have and what I am passionate about is helping young people become professionals that are important to our society, economy and our future.

NACE's Executive Director Marilyn Mackes presenting at DEAM12.

How have internship programs changed over the last several years, and what are some of the benefits for an organization to create those opportunities?

Internship programs have been around for a long time. What has changed, however, is that employers are looking at internships as ways to source their entry level hires. Employers are finding that they are converting close to 60% of interns into full time employees. So, internship programs have become a major sourcing strategy. In addition, internships can offer tremendous benefits to everyone involved. They allow candidates to get to know the employer and the employer to get to know the candidates. This helps interns hit the ground running if they’re hired.

What attracts top talent?

I strongly recommend that all employers work with career services offices on college campuses. The career services office is where young people are going to get job search and career development assistance—everything from how to market themselves to how to identify potential employers to how to develop a professional network. It’s especially important for employers that are not well known, that don’t have a strong employment brand, to establish a strong relationship with the career center; this will help them get in front of students. For example, career centers can help employers get in front of student by involving them in key activities, such as career panels, resume critiques, mock interviews, and classroom presentations. What a great way to put yourself in front of students in a way that actually differentiates you from everybody else.

How can employers connect and work with career centers?

Start with the career center director. You can do a Google search to identify the person, or contact NACE for assistance.

Talk with the career center director about your needs as an employer. When the director understands your need, he or she can help you align those needs with that campus’ specific offerings. It’s important to recognize that every campus is different; you can’t assume that every campus operates the same or offers the same resources and opportunities, so leverage that relationship to identify what’s going to work best for you on that campus.

Once you have that conversation with the director, he or she will be able to open up all the intersections on that campus. For example, the career center director can connect you with the person that handles the accounting career night, or the chemical engineering career night. The director will be able to help you identify faculty members that serve as advisors and mentors to students, or help keep you informed about upcoming career fairs, both face-to-face and virtual. The director will also be able to give you some insight into unique opportunities on a particular campus.

Obviously you’re a member as well as a long-time partner of DirectEmployers. What’s the advantage for an employer to get involved with DirectEmployers?

NACE and DirectEmployers are both non-profit organizations that are focused on the employment market, and trying to make sure that candidates can find their place in the employing organization, and that employers can source the people that they need in their organization.

The missions of the two organizations are also closely aligned. In fact, many of our members belong to both NACE and DirectEmployers. They understand the importance of technology and feel a need to share, benchmark and participate in different types of learning experiences with each other. As a result, NACE and DirectEmployers are working more closely with each other. For example, we’re putting content on each other’s blogs, presenting at each other’s conferences, and learning new ways to share our respective content.

Thank you to Marilyn for taking the time for this interview! Be sure to check out some of NACE’s guest blog posts and see Marilyn in action giving job seeker advice for the Social Jobs Partnership:

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