Janelle Cammenga-Staff Writer
No matter how much fun you might have eating at the Grille, being a part of events like the Prairie Grass Film Challenge and living within walking distance of all your friends, college doesn’t last forever. Someday soon—very soon, for seniors—you’ve got to find a job. Somehow.
You could just Google “jobs for a ___ major” and apply at random. You could wait until the last minute and hope some miracle occurs.
Or you could try HireDefenders.com.
HireDefenders is a new website, existing since the 2015-2016 school year, which helps Dordt students search for jobs, and helps employers look for potential employees. The concept is still in its fledgling stage, however, so there is plenty of room for expansion.
The purpose of the website is simple: Employers post open job positions, students post their resumes and applicable skills and Dordt students or alumni hopefully fill open positions. You can also link your HireDefenders profile to your Facebook and LinkedIn accounts to make it easier for employers to find you.
“It’s a great thing to have,” said senior Emily Postma, who found the website easy to use and navigate, “but it’s also scary.” To her, HireDefenders acts as a reminder that life after college is coming soon.
The number of employers registered on the site is 1,900, posting a total of 302 jobs and internships since Jan. 1, 2017. Out of Dordt’s approximately 1,500 students, there were 181 log-ins to the site in January.
“Dordt has a long-standing reputation for producing strong candidates in the fields of education, engineering, business and agriculture,” said Amy Westra, Dordt’s career development coordinator. “I believe that is reflected on HireDefenders.com.”
Most employers who interact with the website are from Iowa and the Sioux Falls area. A few national companies also post jobs, mostly for business administration positions.
For Postma, these postings are helpful, as she wants to stay in the area after graduation.
“I think it’s a good tool,” said senior mathematics major Nathan Ryder, “but I think that most people get jobs from internships and knowing people, not from sending out online applications.”
Ryder said online job sites like LinkedIn and HireDefenders are more helpful for people who have been in the workforce already, since they have experience that will help differentiate them from other applicants. He thinks recent college graduates will have to rely more on connections than online applications.
“It has its place,” he said, in regard to HireDefenders.
Senior engineering major Eric Rowe reinforces that idea. “I feel like it’s a good idea, but it could reinforce the ‘Dordt Bubble.’”
The “Dordt Bubble” refers to the idea that after graduation Dordt students flock to the same geographical areas or job fields from which they, or their classmates, originated. For example, education majors who use HireDefenders would likely end up as Christian school teachers in Reformed “hubs” across the nation instead of spreading out to other places and institutions because such employers are the ones who are interested in this website.
Most jobs on the site are related to engineering, business and agriculture, meaning at this point in time the source it is less helpful for other majors.
Westra is working to solve this problem by expanding the types of employers that use the service.
“I need student and faculty help with that,” she said. She would love to know what employers students want to work for so she can work to develop relationships between those companies and Dordt.
“I think the greatest improvement we need is to get the word out,” Westra said, “both to students and prospective employers. The more traction we get on the site, the better for students, alumni and employers.”