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College career placement offices, even if not atyour alma mater, provide great job resources

Your job search is in full swing and you’d like to use the career services office at your alma mater, but it’s not within convenient traveling distance. Don’t give up, however: a nearby college or university may offer reciprocal services.

For instance, Darrell Grayson, a ’93 graduate of the University of Houston and a ’95 M.B.A. graduate of Mississippi State University, learned of the extensive resources at the career placement office at nearby Texas Southern University. With the help of TSU, he was able to line up interviews with a number of companies, including American Express and MetLife. While Grayson ended up declining several job offers, opting instead to become an entrepreneur, he highly recommends this avenue to other job seekers.

According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), more than 1,844 of its member colleges are now offering reciprocity services, which allows graduates of other schools to use one or more services at their career services centers. This number is up from 850 colleges in 1994.

To get the ball rolling, call the college you would like to use to find out its requirements for reciprocity. Often what’s needed is a letter of reciprocity from your alma mater stating that it will offer these same services to a graduate of the other college, should the situation arise. But some schools work on a more informal basis–opening their career centers to anyone who has graduated from a school within the state system, or to those who have graduated from within a consortium of schools, such as historically black colleges.

Some colleges and universities offer reciprocity services to the community for free and others charge one set fee or on a per service basis. For instance, Boston University charges nonstudents $25 to use its career service library for six months. Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, has instituted a $35 fee, allowing graduates of other institutions outside the Chicago area to use its Career Information Center for three months.

But the of reciprocity outweigh the costs. The types of services available differ each college but may include access to job listings, self-assessment materials, the Internet, directories, annual reports, resume preparation software, counseling on the graduate school application process, internships, career development seminars and inclusion in the school’s resume database. However, because of staff limitations, one service frequently not available to nonstudents is one- on-one career counseling sessions.

Besides gaining access to a wealth of resources, may also meet with on- campus recruiters ready and willing to interview qualified candidates. “If you meet the basic qualifications, most employers will not screen you out of the interview process, allowing you an opportunity to present your credentials,” says Benjamin F. Ellis Jr., director of placement and career services at Norfolk State University.

Adds Richard Leger, director of the Office of Career Services at Boston University: “In some cases, companies won’t go to [government-funded] employment offices in larger cities because they don’t want to be inundated with a large number of applicants. Instead, they will have interview sessions at a

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