The University of Michigan, an encyclopedic survey ... Wilfred B. Shaw, editor.
University of Michigan.

THE University Bureau of Appointments and Occupational Information is a University agency resulting from the union of the Bureau of Appointments of the School of Education and the Senate Committee on Vocational Counsel and Placement. It is now in its thirteenth year.

In the earlier years of the University, no effective medium between the superintendents of schools and prospective teachers had existed. The few students desiring to teach for the most part were known to the president and to members of the faculty. With the rapid expansion of the teaching profession, however, a better knowledge of the capacities of the candidates for positions and a more effective means of placing teaching opportunities before the students became desirable. This service the president and faculty were unable to render effectively.

Appointment committee. — The Bureau of Appointments, originally designated the "appointment committee," was created in 1898 by the faculty of the Department of Literature, Science, and the Arts, "to devise a scheme for securing teaching positions for graduates and students of the University." The president of the University later was authorized to appoint a second committee to supervise the work of this body. Fourteen members of the faculty were appointed to serve on this supervisory committee, of which Professor B. A. Hinsdale was elected chairman and E. C. Goddard, secretary, succeeded the following year by Professor A. S. Whitney as chairman and J. W. Markley as secretary. Much of the work of this committee was performed by an executive committee composed of three members. In 1906 the Bureau was made one of the activities of the University's Department of Education. Its work was carried on in Tappan Hall under the active charge of A. S. Whitney, then Dean of the Department of Education, in co-operation with Professor Calvin O. Davis and an office force of four assistants.

The Senate committee on vocational counsel and placement. — The need for a similar agency for students interested in occupations other than teaching led to a proposal in 1923 that the Michigan Union establish a placement bureau. The conference of deans, however, disapproved this proposal, since the University itself was planning to undertake the work, and a committee to gather data concerning a placement bureau and related problems was authorized. Dean Edmund E. Day, of the School of Business Administration, served as chairman of this committee on vocational guidance and placement appointed by the president. The committee made a formal report in November, 1924, which was approved by the Senate and was referred to Page  311the Regents. It contained the following recommendations:

  • 1. That a Senate Committee on Vocational Counsel and Placement be appointed by the President, the committee to consist of the Dean of Students, the Dean of Women ex officio, and one representative from each college and school.
  • 2. That appointments to the Committee be for a term of four years the initial appointments being "staggered" so that the term of two members of the committee will expire each year.
  • 3. That the Committee have the services of an executive officer and an adequate subordinate staff, the executive officer to give not less than one-half of his time to the work of the Committee.
  • 4. That the Committee report at least once each year to the University Senate.
  • 5. That the Regents of the University be requested to grant the Committee all necessary financial support for a period of not less than four or five years, that the work may be assured of a reasonable trial.

(R.P., 1923-26, p. 809.)
Final action on these recommendations was not taken, because of President Burton's death and subsequent administrative changes, until January, 1926, when the president was authorized by the Regents to appoint a committee on vocational guidance and placement. Its activities, however, were limited to research on the occupations and characteristics of individual students. This committee undertook to make a survey, which was authorized in March, 1926, with Clarence Stone Yoakum, then Professor of Applied Psychology, as part-time executive secretary. Professor John W. Bradshaw was elected chairman. The task before the committee developed so rapidly that in May, 1927, it requested the appointment of a full-time executive secretary, as well as authorization of a more adequate placement service. During the next two years this work was carried on in accordance with the plan authorized by the Regents. Professor Yoakum was succeeded as executive secretary by Willard Eagleston Parker ('23, A.M. '27), who, with his assistant, Donald Howe Moyer (Harvard '27, A.M. Michigan '28), prepared a bibliography of vocational information for college and high-school students. Mr. Parker resigned in 1929, and at the same time the secretary of the Bureau of Appointments for teachers, Mrs. Hellen Ramsdell Shambaugh ('19), also resigned, and the work of the two offices was combined in a new organization known as the Bureau of Appointments and Occupational Information. The creation of this Bureau was authorized in August, 1929, with the approval of a committee composed of Chairman Bradshaw, Professor Yoakum, representing the committee on vocational guidance and placement, and Dean Edmonson and Professor Schorling, representing the School of Education. T. Luther Purdom (Centre '10, Ph.D. Michigan '25) was made Director of the new Bureau, which was organized at the opening of the academic year 1929-30. The budgets of the two preceding organizations were combined, and the director was made directly responsible to the president of the University.

The committee on vocational counsel and placement was discontinued, and an advisory Senate committee of five for the Bureau of Appointments and Occupational Information, to be chosen by the president, was authorized. The first such committee was appointed in February, 1930.

The present Bureau functions under three main divisions: teacher placement, general placement, and guidance and research.

Teacher placement. — Teacher placement — the oldest of the three divisions — has grown because of the demands of the people and because of the wide and continually growing range of acquaintances. Page  312In brief, the placement of teachers consists first of registration of all prospective teachers and alumni who want assistance; second, of keeping in touch with all educational institutions of higher learning outside the state and all educational institutions in the state: elementary schools, high schools, colleges, and universities; and third, in presenting the credentials of the people desiring positions to prospective employers.

The registration consists of bringing together in a folder such information about the individual as his age, place of birth, educational background, religion, experience, record, and recommendations for each step in his development.

The Bureau establishes contacts with educational institutions by correspondence at least once a year, calling attention to the service it renders and to the fields of work in which the University of Michigan prepares candidates. Representatives of the Bureau attend the state educational meetings, the national educational meetings when it is advisable, and in every way possible the Bureau keeps administrative officers in education informed of University of Michigan students and alumni.

The next step in teacher placement is to bring the credentials of the qualified registrants to the attention of the prospective employer; that is, when a call is received for an applicant in certain fields the credentials of those people meeting the qualifications are presented to the prospective employer, and where possible arrangements are made for interviews. The registrants are encouraged to keep their records up to date in order that they may be known and will be available for promotion, and it should be said that approximately four out of five of all placements in the teaching field are for the people who have had experience. In other words, the great number of calls which come to the University are those asking for people with advanced degrees and successful experience. Last year more than 12,000 sets of credentials were presented to prospective employers. This gives an indication of the amount of work which has to be carried on to render efficient service to the registrant, to the employer, and to the public.

Since the teaching division has been running for over fifty years, the Bureau has records of almost all the people who have gone into the teaching field and who have been successful. The Bureau aids those who have been successful by recommending them for better positions, and assists those who have not been successful by pointing out the errors which have prevented their advancement and by helping them to correct these errors.

At the end of each fiscal year, a card is sent to every registrant on the active list, asking him to give the Bureau his status regarding his position and desire for promotion. This is done in order that the University of Michigan men and women will not be overlooked when calls for trained people come in.

General placement. — General placement includes everything outside of teacher placement and calls for co-operation with business and professional institutions of all kinds. It would be difficult to say how wide the range is, because calls of every imaginable type come in, including those for factory work, business, and industry — for accountants, salesmen, and technicians. Representatives of a large number of companies annually come to the office of the Bureau to interview prospective employees. The arrangements are made beforehand and the prospective employers spend from a short period to three days interviewing a large number of candidates, in order that they may find just what they want. As in the teacher division, the various companies receive at least once a year a Page  313letter which is designed to inform them of the services rendered by the Bureau and how the services can be used to a good advantage. In addition to meeting the prospective employer, our students and alumni are given a few thousand cards of introduction to all types of organizations all over the world, and these cards, without exception so far as is known, have been honored by all organizations, such as banks, publishing houses, and laboratories.

The alumni organizations in many of our cities co-operate by organizing committees through which certain members of the group meet the Michigan graduate. A member will usually give him an introduction to employers in his own line of work, as well as refer him to the director of employment in other fields of work. This help has been most generously given and appreciated. However, it is kept in mind that at no time should any of these organizations or individuals be burdened with too many callers.

In connection with general placement has been the growth in the number of applicants seeking summer positions. Many of these people in summer employment are taken by the employer so that he may have an opportunty to look them over for permanent service, and in this sense, much aid has been rendered. Also, many students have been able to secure through the Bureau positions that help them pay their tuition for the coming year. Between four and five hundred in all are thus enabled to find summer positions which not only help them earn a living, but have a tremendous effect on their future lives through the opportunity given them to continue in school.

The Bureau does not have as many names in the general placement division as it does in the teacher placement division, because the latter is much older. However, it is adding to the general placement list as time goes on in order to be able to recommend applicants from the alumni when calls are received which demand mature people of experience and training.

The attendance by members of the staff at state and national organization meetings continually increases the number of registrants by calling attention at the meetings to the service rendered the alumni; this practice alone is helping to give more service to the alumni and to the public in general.

Guidance. — Since the reorganization of the Bureau of Appointments and Occupational Information in 1929, its guidance functions have increased steadily in volume and importance. It was realized that efficient placement could result only in proportion to a correct estimate and evaluation of the capabilities and personal qualities of the candidates who register for assistance. Thus the Bureau has become a central and official department of the University, organized to give personal guidance directed toward satisfactory vocational adjustment. This service is extended, not only to the students on the campus, but also to alumni, teachers, parents, and high-school students of the state. It was among the first of state university placement offices to recognize that guidance and placement are inseparable functions. The correctness of that view of its functions is evidenced by the fact that it is now becoming a general policy among college and government employment agencies to incorporate guidance and personal adjustment assistance in the services offered.

The guidance department renders a varied service, depending upon individual needs. For some it provides information about the various occupations and professions and about opportunities for useful work as graduates. It helps to analyze and solve individual problems by studying abilities, skills, interests, and Page  314personalities. For teachers and guidance workers particularly, information is provided as the result of research work in personnel problems constantly going on in the office of the Bureau. An effort is made to discover the factors affecting success or failure and to point out how the conclusions from these services may be applied to guidance work.

Not only has the Bureau constantly collected occupational information for students, but since 1933 it has also sponsored speeches and round-table discussion groups on vocational problems in an effort to arouse a more general interest in vocational planning for students. Student organizations have co-operated in the selection of occupational fields to be discussed and in informing the student body of the schedule of meetings; likewise, business, industrial, and professional leaders have willingly co-operated in the program. They have come to the campus at their own expense to present in a series of vocational discussions their views as to the personal qualifications and training required.

Today, ten years after the inauguration of this program, the large number of students coming voluntarily for these services far overtaxes the present staff.

A further development was initiated by the Bureau in 1935 through a guidance internship for qualified graduate students who have specialized in personnel work in their programs for advanced degrees. These internships can give the graduate students an opportunity to assist counselors in certain secondary schools. It is now planned to provide similar opportunities for field work in business and industry.

A twofold research program is continually under way in the Bureau. Not only the accumulation of personal and vocational data from records of students on the campus, but also follow-up information giving personal-experience records of alumni in permanent positions is being studied. These researches aim to discover the factors associated with success or failure and their practical application in helping students in the correct choice of a vocation, or a better adjustment or advancement for alumni.

In summary, the Bureau seeks to prevent students from pursuing an aimless, unfruitful, or wrong program and to help them to discover the right vocation and prepare for it.