In the classic 1989 movie, Field of Dreams, a farmer played by Kevin Costner hears a voice: “If you build it, (they) will come.” The movie ( http://www.fieldofdreamsdvd.com/) is about man’s need to pursue his dreams. In the movie, if Costner builds a baseball field in the middle of his Iowa farm, then the (late) great baseball players of all times will come to the field and play.
While the analogy might be a bit dramatic, I’m pleased to introduce the first phase of the CDC “field of dreams,” our new CDC career portal. The new portal will “go live” April 21, and even though many of you are past the job search phase of your time here at Darden, I invite you to visit the portal, play around and tell us what you think. (If you would like to provide us feedback on the test site this week, please email me, and I’ll send you log in instructions to the test site.)
Why a New Portal?
Because the old one was not very good (see my blog 1/28/08). The CDC website is a collection of information that has been assembled over the years and put on a website with some semblance of order. However, as the amount of information has added up, it has become harder and harder to find. Further, the CDC website resides next to the “CDC System,” the action part of the site where a student would sign up for briefings, interviews, etc. These two components were not integrated nor user friendly. Another issue: the website is static and does not contain up-to-date information on companies or events. Therefore, the CDC has to resort to multiple forms of communication to insure that students get the information they need.
Objectives of the New Portal
So as we set out, we included several objectives in our new design:
- Helpful to your job search: the site must be a place where you feel you can go to advance your job search. You can find information that will make your your job search more efficient and effective.
- Intuitive and User Friendly: the new site must be familiar and intuitive. You must be able to find information and take actions whenever, wherever you are in the site.
- Up to the Minute: the site must provide the most accurate, up-to-the minute information on companies, events that are important to your career search.
- Yours: we want the site to be your site. We want the content to be your content in the format that you want.
- Communicative: we want the site to replace the many forms of communication you receive from the CDC today (I can’t promise no more emails, but I sure intend to reduce the number).
So what we did: the highlights
Several months ago we engaged a consultant (a Darden alum) to help us think through our needs and to explore the possibilities with us. We assembled a team of CDC folks and began the process. We also listened to feedback you had given us. After months of work, here are a few highlights:
- Integrated the two separate components. You won’t have two places to enter the portal now, only one. You shouldn’t see different information on the “actions” side versus the “information” side, because there is only one side.
- Created a dynamic home page with up to the minute announcements. The home page will change whenever there is new information. The announcements will be our primary way to communicate with you.
- Designed in student-content areas. In the site you will find “discussion board” type areas for you to communicate with the CDC and with each other. There are areas for sharing contacts and job leads, for publicizing club events and off-grounds networking events, and for storing your resume, cover letters, and target lists of companies.
- Facilitated company research. We have created the company Wiki where all information on companies is stored. We will update the content, but even more importantly, so will you. Input contacts, reviews, whatever you want other students to know about the company.
- Updated all content. All instructional content has been updated and supplemented. We want you to be able to access critical information on any part of the job search when you need it. We have linked the multimedia modules, the Powerpoints from Career Management class, and other critical information all laid out in the critical stages of the job search.
- Created special resource sections for International students, Women & Minorities, Venture and Entrepreneurship, and Off-Grounds searchers. In these sections we have assembled all the resources available so that you can find them easily.
We know we are not done. Now we need your input. Today we have given access to about twenty students to surf the site and give us feedback. We need to know if it works. We need to know if you can find what you are looking for. We need to know if it is user friendly. We need to know if this is the quality of site that you expect from a top MBA program. Don’t be gentle. My “field of dreams” is still growing. While I have the shape of the diamond and the lights up, I still don’t have the bases in place, and the grass is just being planted. We built this, so you’d come. We want you to say “wow, this is cool.” But we need you to tell us how to make it cool, so we can spend the rest of the summer putting in the extras.
In the meantime, I’d like to thank the folks who have worked so hard to cut down the corn and put in the infrastructure. Sue Haas from Darden Enterprise Solutions has provided great technical leadership to the project, and her team members, Nancy Brown, Weiping Gong, Richard Guendelsberger, and Kevin Russell, have put in countless hours. From Darden Solutions, our internal software development company, Rosemary Wagner, Dave Engler and Tom Healey have worked hard to integrate the old system into the portal. I’d like to thank Darden alum Adam Healey (’04) for his encouragement and design expertise. (Adam, we didn’t quite get to the beauty of www.vibeagent.com, but we made progress.) I’d like to thank the CDC team members who have worked hard on the content and finally, Margaret Weeks, whose leadership and hard work have been an inspiration. Way to go Margaret!
Speaking of Margaret, for the foreseeable future, Margaret is the queen of communication in the CDC. If you have ideas, let Margaret and me know. We are ready to listen.