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Computer Problems Hit Career Services

By Susan Buchman
ASSOCIATE NEWS EDITOR

The Undergraduate Association is calling for changes in the new computerized resume and interview system used by those seeking job opportunities after it suffered several glitches over the past month.

The new system, InterviewTrak, is used by students to arrange and schedule interviews with prospective employers. It was installed by the Office of Career Services andPreprofessional Advising this year.

Although the UA initially called for a return to a paper-based resume system, the organization has since withdrawn from this position.

The UA resolution, passed on Oct. 5, called for MIT to return to using a paper-based resume system until the software performs properly. It also called for more oversight of the Career Services office by the administration.

In a letter to MIT administrators dated Oct. 7, UApresident Paul Oppold '99 said that he had received complaints from over 100 seniors and many other undergraduates about the new system.

These concerns focused on the loss of control over the format of one's resume when it is submitted over the Web, and the lack of confirmation that information has been received by a company.

A greater concern arose on Oct. 4 when the resume submission section of JobTrak entitled InterviewTrak went off-line. This caused some students to miss deadlines for submitting applications.

"Seniors need to take advantage of all their opportunities and do not want to be guinea pigs while this new system is brought up to par," said Oppold.

Last year, the Career Services office installed a computerized resume submission program but quickly withdrew it after complaints from seniors and others.

The JobTrak system was created in 1987 and has been used by over 750 colleges. The InterviewTrak section of the system was rolled out this fall at 22 universities, including MIT, Duke University, the University of Chicago, and the University of California at Berkeley, among others.

JobTrak working to fix errors

Oppold's letter said that complaints were about JobTrak, a separate program, but according to Kenneth Ramberg, co-founder of JobTrak Corp., the author of the commercial package including both programs, the errors with the system were confined to InterviewTrak.

"The main problem was the unbelievable amount of demand that was placed on the system," Ramberg said.

JobTrak, a separate system that is used to post job announcements, "has been working fine for ten years." To correct the problems with InterviewTrak, JobTrak Corp. installed two new servers to handle to heavy flow of data.

In response to the concerns over the InterviewTrak system, Ramberg was invited to MITby the Career Services Center Thursday and Friday and met with Oppold, Associate Dean for Residence Life and Student Life Programs Katherine G. O'Dair, other students, and the staff of the Career Services Center.

Ramberg will be returning to campus this Thursday, when he will meet with students in forums at noon and 6 p.m to discuss specific problems and gather suggestions on the system, said Christopher Pratt, director of the office of career services and preprofessional advising.

"Ken Ramberg will participate in these forums, along with members of the [Career Center] staff and an employer representative who has used the system for scheduling interviews for her on-campus recruiting visit," Pratt said. "The goal is to hear from representatives of all InterviewTrak users - students, staff, and employers."

"We greatly appreciate all the feedback we've received from MIT students," Ramberg said.

Paper resumes will not return

According to Oppold, returning to paper resumes is no longer under consideration. A survey conducted by the Career Services office showed that "very few students would prefer to return to the manual paper process we used in the past," he said.

"We have been convinced that reinstating the paper system is not a viable option, and thus are focusing our attention and fixing InterviewTrak," said Oppold.

In response to the suggestion that MIT students return to a paper resume system, Ramberg said MIT students get "tens of thousands [of job listings] that you normally wouldn't get if you weren't on the network" through the JobTrak program.

Ramberg said he does not believe that the web resume format puts JobTrak and InterviewTrak users at a disadvantage in the eyes of employers.

"I've met with over 600 employers and they are much more concerned with content over the format that was used," he said. "Employers understand that the Internet is the wave of the future and there are going to be some limitations."

Long term assistance proposed

"We have requested that JobTrak send a customer representative to our office to serve both employers and students who may need assistance in need assistance in using the system," Pratt said.

The UAis also planning to provide resources to students who experience difficulty with JobTrak.

"I have contacted a few students, including the Student Information Processing Board, to help other students with InterviewTrak questions as if it was Athena supported software," Oppold said.