Grove City College’s Career Services Office can measure its success in statistics that point to overwhelmingly positive student outcomes like a 96 percent placement rate for recent graduates, alumni salaries that outpace national averages, and a return on investment of nearly a half million dollars over 20 years.
Another, perhaps better, measure of the office’s effectiveness came this fall when The Princeton Review ranked Grove City College fourth in the nation for Career Services in its annual “Best 388 Colleges” guide. The ranking is based entirely on what students themselves say about the College and how it helps prepare them for a career and find a great job after commencement.
Courtney Mattey ’21 is one of those satisfied customers. The Mathematics and Sociology major is a Senior Search Engine Marketing Analyst at Merkle, Inc., a job she got with the help of the Career Services Office (CSO).
Mattey said she wasn’t sure what she wanted to do when she started at Grove City College, so she worked with the office through all four years of college, taking advantage of the services it offered, including major and career exploration, resume writing tips, networking advice, interview preparation, workshops, one-on-one appointments, and moral and technical support.
“I felt confident with taking on my job search by the time I reached senior year, knowing I had the CSO behind me when I needed help along the way,” she said. “I felt that throughout the entire process, the CSO was there to support me and that I could come in to talk through anything I wasn't sure about.”
She prepped for interviews with the staff and “one of the career counselors leveraged one of her personal connections to help get me an interview for the job I have today,” Mattey said.
Working closely with students isn’t just about getting them good jobs, it’s about helping them discover their individual callings and identifying the educational and professional routes they can take to answer those callings.
“We intentionally work with students all four years to identify their individual interests, skills, and knowledge and help them discover their vocational calling upon graduation,” Director Renee Coyne said. “It’s not one thing that we are doing, but many collaborations building on relationships with faculty, staff, employers, and alumni. That’s GCC's secret sauce.”
“Faculty and staff are invested in the future of our students just as much as the CSO and we work to be strong partners as opposed to separate silos. That encourages a deeper understanding of academic departments and, with that high-touch knowledge, we can customize programs to meet students where they are, and address career questions earlier than the spring semester of senior year.”
Coyne, who joined the CSO this summer, credits her predecessor, former CSO Director and current Director of Alumni & Campus Engagement Mandy Sposato ’00, for building the culture of excellence that’s been recognized by The Princeton Review.
The College’s investment in staffing, facilities, resources, and services – including vocational coaching, skills assessment, access to internships, networking opportunities, and top-flight resources such as Big Interview, CareerShift, PathwayU, CliftonStrengths, and Handshake – pays off for students by providing a solid foundation to pursue a fulfilling career and a lifetime of professional success and satisfaction.
The office has an active on-campus recruiting program that draws employers like Lockheed Martin, Westinghouse, Samaritan’s Purse, International Justice Mission, EY, Chick-fil-A, NASA, and PNC Financial Services Group to campus to participate in interviews and information sessions with students throughout the school year. The office’s flagship event is the annual Career Fair, which this year drew recruiters, many of them alumni, from more than 150 businesses, graduate schools, ministries, and state and federal agencies to meet with more than 800 Grove City College students.
Coyne said a strong and active alumni network contributes to the success of the office and students. “Alumni return to campus to share experiences and stories from the world of work which both resonate and help prepare students for what is ahead. We receive job leads and offers from alumni and a number of our students do begin working with or for alumni, but even if they don’t, they have a strong network and support for when they begin working,” she said.
That’s been the case for Mattey, who is now part of that network. “The skills and perspectives and relationships I gained from interacting with the CSO didn't stop helping me after I landed my job; they continue to be assets in my job and in the professional world,” she said.
The Princeton Review rankings is “very well deserved,” according to Mattey. “Engaging early and often is key if you want to take advantage of all that the office can offer … I've always said that the worst part about the CSO is that Grove City doesn't require you to use it, and if I hadn't used it, I would absolutely not be where I am today,” she said.