Starting today, students at the College of William and Mary will have a designated spot to start thinking about life after school.
The Sherman and Gloria H. Cohen Career Center will open its doors today, providing space for advising, job interviews, workshops, networking events and even corporate-sponsored tailgate parties. The 11,000-gross-square-foot facility, located between the Sadler Center and Zable Stadium, is highly visible, with a large atrium lobby and a location that invites foot traffic.
The $7.9 million project was funded entirely through private monies, including a $6 million gift by Sherman and Gloria Cohen. Sherman Cohen attended the college for a semester in 1938 before building a real estate business in New York City with his brothers, Mortimer and Edward, who also attended the college. He will be on hand for the building’s dedication on Nov. 20.
“Gloria and I are extremely pleased that the new, state-of-the-art Career Center is now open for business,” he said in a press release. “We are confident that the center will lift the profile of William and Mary’s career services by drawing prospective employers to campus as well as allowing students and alumni to maximize the effectiveness of their job searches.”
The Career Center is one of only four freestanding college career centers in the nation, and is designed as a professional environment where students can receive advice and training for interviews, then sit through real interviews with major companies. Professional counselors will also offer internship and externship placement assistance, and the doors are open to alumni seeking advice about career changes. For the first time, the center has staff devoted to first-year and second-year students, and students seeking careers in science.
Students and employers will enter into the glass atrium lobby, where they can check in ona computer screen and wait for their appointments in a sleek, modern waiting area. On the first floor, students can take advantage of a resource library, attend workshops in a presentation room that can easily transition from a lecture hall to an event space and meet with professional career counselors. On the second floor, students can interview with either counselors or actual employers in one of 15 interview rooms, including one equipped to do remote interviews via video conferencing.
The Career Center also features a patio off the first floor (a donation from the Class of 1958) and a terrace off the second floor facing Zable Stadium, with an unobstructed view of the football field. That space is available for company tailgating events, where students can mix and mingle with potential employers, set against the backdrop of William & Mary football.
While the center didn’t officially open until today, it hosted a welcome event for students to check out the space on Sept. 16. Mary Schilling, director of the center, said 350 students lined up to get in and were impressed with the results. In the coming weeks, students will have chances to interview with Ernst & Young, Capitol One and attend an internship seminar with a parent who works at the White House.
“They’re proud,” she said during a tour on Tuesday. “They kind of own it, and they’re really excited because it will be noticed by employers. The statement it makes is that William and Mary cares so much about the outcome of its students that it’s willing to give up central space on campus for a career center.”
She added that parents taking tours of the campus are just as excited as students, because it represents the assistance the university will offer their children during and after college. Vice President for Student Affairs Virginia Ambler said the building is “a visible sign of William and Mary’s commitment to a lifelong experience.”
The Cohen Career Center was designed by the architectural firm Cunningham & Quill, based in Washington, D.C., and constructed by Whiting-Turner, which built the Mason School of Business. The college is pursuing silver LEED certification for the building, which utilizes natural light and has dedicated space for recycling.