Villa Julie gives students jump on jobs

ECONOMY WATCH

December 21, 1993|By John E. Woodruff | John E. Woodruff,Staff Writer

In today's economy, where the only constant is ever-faster change, good contacts count more than ever when it's time to look for a job.

But if you're just out of college, looking for your first chance, where do good contacts come from?

One small Baltimore college has devised its own answer to that question.

As a result, 91 percent of the 267 students who graduated from Villa Julie College last spring either had found full-time jobs or had gone on for more education by this fall.

"Each major at Villa Julie has its own advisory board of Baltimore business leaders and employers who keep us in touch with the latest trends in methods and technology in their fields," says Bonnie Sulzbach, the school's career services director.

"Technology is the key, kind of a not-so-secret weapon for us. As soon as we learn of new equipment that is actually being used, or new software, we get our students on it right away," she said.

"Our students graduate already knowing how to use the latest, and they are ready to be productive workers as soon as they start on a job."

But training is only one side of what Villa Julie gets by keeping in touch with the people who hire its students.

The same business leaders and employers help the college maintain a network of in-school training jobs which students are required to participate in as part of their college curriculum.

For two-year students, who still account for just over half of a typical Villa Julie graduating class, these jobs take the form of internships.

For students in the four-year bachelor's degree program, which accounted for 121 of last spring's 267 graduates, Villa Julie began in 1991 to use its business contacts to create a "cooperative education" network.

"The co-op program is something different," says Robin L. N. Page, its director.

"It differs from the internship program in three major ways -- it's voluntary, so it has only highly motivated students; it accepts only students who are qualified to be productive workers for the employer; and, of course, it's only open to

juniors and seniors," Ms. Page added.

"I seldom see any co-op students," says Ms. Sulzbach, whose job is to help graduating students find employment.

"They usually have offers from their co-op employers by the time they graduate, and as often as not they also have offers from other employers in the field as well."

Villa Julie, which was founded in 1947 by the School Sisters of Notre Dame to train medical secretaries, is very different today.

lTC It declared its independence of the Catholic sisters in 1967, went educational in 1972 and started a four-year bachelor's degree in 1984. Today, about 20 percent of its students are male.

But through all its changes, it has never given up its career orientation.

"For Villa Julie, the point of our existence doesn't change much," says Carolyn Manuszak, the college's president.

"We are here to give students a sound grounding in the liberal arts, so that they can survive the changes the economy will bring, and we combine that with direct preparation for a specific job."

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