Short Staffed, But Still Trekking Strong

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Associate Director of Career Services Jean-Amiel Jourdan talks about what Career Services offers.
Associate Director of Career Services Jean-Amiel Jourdan talks about what Career Services offers.


WASHINGTON — Career Services is short two key roles – a director and career adviser – but the level of programming is the “same as last year,” says Jean-Amiel Jourdan, associate director of Career Services.

“The goal is to maintain the exact same level of programming, the exact same level of career treks, the exact same level of employer presentations on campus, the same or increased level of on-campus recruiting,” Jourdan said.

Ron Lambert, the director of Career Services, retired this Spring after 19 years at SAIS, and Julie Neill, a career advisor who managed the finance and private-sector portfolios, departed in August. While the University does plan to fill these vacancies, the job openings were only posted last week. There are no plans to bring on new staff in addition to the replacements.

“We are actively recruiting, and by the end of next month, we should have a person in place,” Jourdan said.

The vacancies raise concerns about the department’s ability to meet student demand. As second-year student Kyung R. put it, “Career Services is nice, but they’re hard to reach.”

Jourdan told the Observer that Career Services staff are addressing such issues and moving ahead with new initiatives despite having fewer staff members.

Of particular note, Career Services has increased the number of hours and number of days for same-day appointments. This year, same-day appointments will be offered Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday. Students are encouraged to check the weekly Career Services email for updates. Students can sign up in-person from 9am.

“If your need is urgent, you have an upcoming interview, you want to do a case study, you have got real deadlines, we will make room for you, and we are doing that now,” Jourdan said.

For less urgent needs, Career Services is working to reduce the wait for appointments, which currently must be scheduled two to three weeks in advance. Jourdan says that going forward they would like to offer appointments within a week.

“You don’t get an interview offer two weeks ahead,” said Kyung. “You need [help from Career Services] now.”

First-year students still have to complete the four-week Professional Development Course before they can schedule such appointments. However, the Observer attended the morning session of the course on Friday, September 19th, and did not see much discontent.

“I think they do a good job,” first-year student Samantha C. said. “[The Professional Development Course] is a good way to disseminate information from one-on-one counseling sessions to a larger group of people who may not take advantage of them.”

In addition to career counseling and the Professional Development Course, Career Services will continue arranging “treks” to enable students to visit potential employers off campus. The biggest trek of this semester will be to New York on October 24th. Jourdan will lead a group of twenty students, selected via application, to meet with leading financial-sector employers such as J.P. Morgan, Goldman Sachs, Credit Suisse, Morgan Stanley, and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Interested students must apply through SAISWorks by midnight on Wednesday, September 24th.

Other treks planned for this academic year include another New York trek to the United Nations, a Houston energy trek, a non-finance trek to London, a Shanghai-Hong Kong trek, a Beijing trek, a Geneva trek, a Brussels trek,  and potentially a trek to San Francisco, depending on student demand. All treks are open to students from all campuses.

Closer to home, Career Services is already rolling out daily profiles of students’ favorite employers to remind students of the work the department is doing. Every day, Career Services features an online profile of 1 of the 115 top employers. These top employers were determined via a survey of SAIS students at the end of last year. All of the 115 employers will at some point appear on campus for an information session or career fair, and Career Services provides students with access to SAIS alumni who now work with these companies.

“We want to show people that these employers post jobs to SAIS. They share information with you. We have alumni there,” Jourdan said. “They are on campus, or we are going to visit them.”

Another noteworthy opportunity on campus is the annual Career Fair. This year’s Career Fair is scheduled for Friday, October 17th. Students will have the chance to meet with 30 employers from a wide variety of industries. The Career Services department stressed that most employers do not take part in the Career Fair, so it is important for students to also take advantage of on-campus presentations and career treks.

To stay better informed of the department’s activities, students may now receive industry blasts tailored to their interests. Students are also encouraged to follow the department on Facebook and Twitter (@SAISCareers). For more information, visit the Career Service office on the 2nd Floor of the Nitze building or see the department’s website at

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