How Do You Help Students Avoid the Quarter-Life Crisis?

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Pamela Weinberg
Website: www.pamelaweinberg.com
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/pamelaweinberg/
Twitter: @pamelaweinberg
Blogs from Pamela Weinberg.

I have had the pleasure and disappointment of meeting with a slew of young professionals in my career coaching practice of late. It is a pleasure, because I enjoy connecting with these bright, interesting and thoughtful Millennials. It is disappointing, however, that so many of them are unhappy with their post-college career choices. A few years out of college, they are experiencing some of the symptoms of a so-called “quarter-life crisis.” There has been much written about the quarter-life crisis affecting recent the college graduate starting out a career and living on his or her own for the first time. These young adults may be faced with their first crisis of confidence and feel adrift. Many feel dissatisfied with their job choices and/or chosen career path and don’t know where to turn for help.

How we can help prevent young alumni from falling into a quarter-life crisis? One way to mitigate these issues for the next slew of college grads is for colleges and universities to take a more active role in preparing students for the workplace. Those students majoring in one of STEM fields or who are pre-med most likely have a more direct and focused career path than an English major with a degree that opens him or her up to dozens of potential job or career possibilities. But just what are those possibilities and how is a student to know about them? Without exposure to a myriad of careers and a sense of which skills/aptitudes are needed to succeed at which jobs, it is a challenge for students to find their perfect fit post-graduation. Ben Carpenter’s recent op-ed in The New York Times has received a lot of attention as he brings this issue to the fore and calls on colleges and universities to offer courses in “career training” which would begin freshman year and end senior year.

Others seem to agree. In a new book entitled Aspiring Adults Adrift sociologists Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa speak about colleges and universities “focusing too much on students’ social lives at the expense of strong academic and career road map.” The authors go on to recommend programs that “facilitate school-to-work transitions, in terms of internships, apprenticeships and job-placement programs.”

Career services offices at colleges and universities have always been the student nexus for career- and job-search advice—but as we know, not all students take advantage of the resources there. In championing the idea of four years of career training for college students, Ben Carpenter cites Connecticut College which offers a career training program that has proven quite successful. According to Carpenter, one year after graduation, 96 percent of Connecticut College alumni are employed or in graduate school. That is in stark contrast to the numbers from a recent job poll conducted by AfterCollege, the online entry-level job site. According to the poll, 83 percent of college seniors graduated this year without a job.

The letters to the editor of The New York Times, which followed the Carpenter piece, were squarely split. Most educators were against schools offering career training programs, while most parents were for it. It seems however, that there is more that can be done to prevent recent alums from floundering a few years post-graduation. However, whether these are offerings from career services or through other academic departments is a topic up for debate.

I would love to hear your comments, thoughts, and suggestions on the topic!

Challenging the Omniscient Career Adviser Role

Janet R. LongJanet R. Long
Founder, Integrity Search Inc.
Career Counselor, Widener University
Blog: http://inyourownvoice.wordpress.com/
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/janetrlong/
Twitter: @IntegritySearch
Blogs from Janet Long.
Sometimes life runs in parallels. As I approach month six of in-house career counseling after 20 years as a business owner and executive recruiter, I’m learning that my students are not the only ones navigating new terrain. It is helpful to hold that perspective—and sometimes to share it outright—when encouraging them to push beyond their comfort zone. This makes me less of the all-knowing adviser and more of a human being who can speak to and perhaps model getting to the other side of major life transitions.

As an executive recruiter, even starting out, I often found an automatic presumption of authority and expertise—role power, as a friend and colleague would call it. Role power allowed job candidates to disclose salary and other intimate life and career details to a virtual stranger within minutes. It also positioned me as a trusted confidante and adviser to hiring organizations, and along with that, the one expected to know.

Much earlier, growing up as the daughter of psychologists, I recall that when asking my mother what I should do in a challenging situation, she would often reply, “What do you think you should do?” While this was maddening in the moment, it prepared me to weigh choices from an early age. Her approach sent the message that I was a capable person who could start the thought process on my own.

Putting these experiences together, I’ve been reflecting on the role power inherent in career counseling, and the reflexive temptation to problem solve from a position of expertise. I’m learning to differentiate skills development (resume and cover letter writing, interview preparation, networking strategies) from the leadership that comes more from listening than imparting wisdom.

As an example, I recently advised a midlife student who had just completed an associate’s degree and was torn between continuing on for her bachelor’s in either human resource management or liberal arts. Even as the counselor and huge champion of our traditional liberal arts undergraduates, the recruiter in me admittedly had concerns about short-term employability at a different life stage.

After two in-depth meetings and a series of self-assessments, it became clear that this decision was not a 50/50 proposition. While my student expressed feeling entirely capable of fulfilling the HR program requirements, she voiced much stronger feelings of apathy toward the curriculum. While we had a candid discussion about potential pros and cons, she was powerfully drawn to the liberal arts, and was willing to integrate experiential learning into her already full-time-plus schedule to weave the pieces together.

My student confirmed her decision with her academic adviser shortly thereafter, and copied me on a note that generously described my role as a supportive sounding board. This felt strange at first. Had I done her a disservice by not providing more active advice? What if her decision didn’t lead to the financial security she was also seeking?

Then the realization hit. My role was not to absolutely know what she should do, nor to provide a consultant-like recommendation with supporting bullet points. It was, in fact, to listen and to give her the space to reach her own decision, her own knowing, weighing available data with what already felt true for her.

NACE career counselors, have you confronted this distinction within your own practices and student relationships? What have you learned along the way?

 

The Assessment Diaries: Implementing NACE First Destination Standards

Desalina Allen

Desalina Allen, Senior Assistant Director at NYU Wasserman Center for Career Development
Twitter: @DesalinaAllen
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/desalina

If you haven’t been living under a rock (or trampled by a continual flow of student traffic) you know that the amazing NACE First-Destination Survey Task Force put together some guidelines to help career offices align the way we collect post-graduation outcome data for undergraduate students. You can view the standards, a sample survey, and an informative webinar hosted by Manny Contomanolis, who chaired the task force, on the NACE website.

The standards are not meant to give you a detailed, step-by-step, roadmap. Instead, they are guidelines are a framework to ensure that as a profession we are aligned in terms of our timeframe and the basic type of information we are collecting.

There is an emphasis on flexibility and professional judgment—acknowledging that institutions will add their own questions or adapt their surveys to ensure they are able to meet existing reporting requirements. Additionally, as mentioned in the webinar, these standards have and will continue to evolve.  

With that being said, I will be sharing details of how we are applying the standards to our existing first-destination survey process at NYU. I would love to hear and include other schools’ interpretations as well.  Please contact me or leave your comments below if you would like to participate!

The topics I will be touching on include:

  • Timeline: Defining our graduating class and planning for when and how to collect their placement information

  • Survey Instrument:  Designing and testing our survey; Ensuring the questions/data align with NACE standards

  • Survey Distribution/Data Collection: Partnering with schools to distribute the survey; Collecting information from various sources (electronic and phone survey, faculty, employers, etc.)

  • Data Analysis/Integrity: Verifying results, cleaning and analyzing information

Desalina Allen writes about assessment. She will be blogging occasionally about New York University’s Wasserman Center for Career Development process as an early adopter of the First Destination Survey Standards.

Read more from Desalina Allen.

Discuss, Share Critical Recruiting Issues at Employer Regulatory Summit

Shawn VanDerziel

Guest Blogger Shawn VanDerziel
Vice-President, Human Resources & Administration, The Field Museum
NACE Past President (2009-10)
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/svanderziel

When NACE announced that it was organizing an Employer Regulatory Summit, I immediately knew that I needed to attend.  This powerful event will focus on what’s happening in Washington D.C. and the critical issues that could directly impact the university relations and recruitment profession.

In order for recruiters to exceed in their jobs, we need to think strategically about what’s happening in the world around us and be keenly aware of what’s ahead.  That’s why the issues being covered at the Summit are so important: immigration, STEM, healthcare reform, tax reform, and recruitment of individuals with disabilities.

Once we understand the issues, we can begin to devise world strategies that will advance our recruiting agendas.  The hiring managers we work with will directly benefit from our knowledge as we partner with them to ensure that all obstacles to recruiting and placing top talent are minimized, allowing us to get a leg-up on our competition.

Of the issues being covered, I am particularly interested in hearing more about and engaging in dialogue around immigration reform and STEM graduates.  Having access to qualified talent in the sciences, technology, engineering, and math is of critical importance to my organization.  How we are going to develop future talent in these areas and how we are going to recruit and retain the talent is a national challenge we must solve together.

For me, probably one of the most compelling reasons to attend is the ability to hear from and interact with colleagues from both similar and different industries.  It’s always helpful to me to hear perspectives from colleagues outside of my organization.  I appreciate hearing how others are dealing with similar situations and hearing their fresh ideas.

There is so much we can learn from each other. Let’s all be in one place discussing strategic issues popping in D.C.

I hope to see many of you there.

Get details on the summit and register for the Employer Regulatory Summit at http://www.naceweb.org/events/employer-regulatory-summit.aspx.

Everything You Need to Know About NACE’s Advocacy Mashup

kevin grubbNACE Ambassador Kevin Grubb
Assistant Director at Villanova University’s Career Center.
Twitter: @kevincgrubb
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/kevingrubb
Blog: “social @ edu”.

To say it was interesting would be an understatement. At Friday’s Advocacy Mashup in Washington, DC, NACE and its Advocacy Committee unveiled new standards for first destination surveys, brought in experts on the subject of immigration and internships, and gathered more than 100 career services professionals for discussion on these hottest issues in the field right now. It was a three-pronged, head-spin inducing power meeting that had the room impassioned, empowered and entertained all at once. I was on site, tweeting everything I could to share the action with you. You can check out the full discussion on Twitter with #NACEAdvocacy, and you can also see NACE’s stories from each session on their Storify account.

Here’s my summary from each of the sessions.

First Destination Surveys

We kicked off the day with the unveiling of NACE’s First-Destination Survey Standards and Protocols, led by Manny Contomanolis, Associate Vice President and Director at RIT. The session included lots of time for Q&A and debate, the spirit of which was summed up nicely in this tweet by Kathy Sims from UCLA:

Key themes and noteworthy parts of the standards:

  • New terms: “knowledge rate” (instead of “response rate”) and “career outcome rate” (instead of “placement rate”). You can see more about “knowledge rate” in one of my previous blog posts from the 2013 NACE conference
  • The Standards and Protocols contains a sample survey (emphasis on “sample” cannot be stated enough), and there’s flexibility for institutions to include supplemental questions as deemed fit
  • The recommended minimum knowledge rate for surveys is 65 percent of the graduating class
  • “Full-time employment” would be defined as working 30 hours per week or more (in alignment with provisions in the Affordable Care Act)
  • NACE hopes to see early adopters use these standards with the Class of 2014, followed by wide-spread adoption for surveys of the Class of 2015
  • The target date for gathering survey data would be December 31 of each year, and NACE will request summary data from all institutions to track and share trends in hiring and higher education (participation voluntary)
  • The Standards and Protocols will continue to evolve and feedback is welcome from NACE members

International Students and Immigration Reform

Our two guest speakers for this session were Amy Scott, Associate Vice President for Federal Relations at the Association of American Universities and Heather Stewart, Counsel and Director of Immigration Policy, Public Policy Department at NAFSA: Association of International Educators. Both were subject matter experts on our current immigration policies and the activity & debate happening now in the federal government on immigration reform.

What will happen next with immigration reform, its impact on international students and how that will affect work in career services is not yet clear. There are debates right now on immigration status that focus on the level of degree earned (for instance: should the focus be on those with a Bachelor’s degree or higher?) and on area of study (the STEM fields are in primary focus now). More debate is on the possible revision of OPT hours, green cards and visa status. A major recommendation from all of this: career services professionals should work with government relations officials on campus to communicate how these issues impact students and their employment.

If I could give a “quote of the day” award, it would no doubt go to Heather Stewart. On the issue of the big focus on STEM students, she said, “You need STEM, but you need the flower, too” (referring to all of the other courses of study that lead to many necessary careers). You’ll see that line tweeted plenty of times!

Unpaid Internships

Our final session on an issue almost too hot too touch, unpaid internships, was led by Kathy Sims and featured Ross Eisenbrey, Vice President at the Economic Policy Institute and Steven M. Bloom, Director, Federal Relations, Government and Public Affairs at the American Council on Education. Some elements of NACE research on internships were featured, the Department of Labor’s test for unpaid internships was discussed and the audience was on fire with questions concerning what’s legal, ethical and fair.

Christine Cruzvergara of George Mason University tweeted out a highlight of this session – a quick look at what our speakers told us:

The one thought that stuck with me from this conversation was this: when it comes to internships and fairness, one thing we definitely have to discuss is pay. The other is the experience. What is the intern learning and doing? What is the employer teaching and gaining? It might be too early to tell where the conversation on pay, experience and internships is headed, but it’s clear this is something that NACE members from both sides of the recruiting table will be talking about and watching closely.

So, with a brain full of thoughts, a Twitter feed lit up with questions, and a few new connections made, I say thank you to the NACE team, the Advocacy Committee, and the special guest speakers who helped make the Advocacy Mashup possible. I look forward to hearing from you, NACE blog readers, about what you think on this trifecta of critical college-to-career issues.

Outcomes Data: Let’s Own the Opportunity Ahead

Marilyn MackesMarilyn Mackes, Executive Director
National Association of Colleges and Employers
Twitter: @NACEMarilyn
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/pub/marilyn-mackes/8/210/a70

There is very little these days that policy makers agree on—no big news there. The BIG NEWS is that our profession has an opportunity to lead in an area that many in the public and private sectors do care about and will most certainly impact the work we do in the future.

What is it that the President and legislators in both parties agree on? The need for detailed outcomes data about college graduates and their first destinations after receiving their degrees.

In 2013 we saw a number of federal and state initiatives launched to meet the growing demand for accountability and transparency about college outcomes.

  • In February 2013 in his State of the Union Address, President Obama introduced the College Scorecard designed to provide data on affordability, value and employment potential by institution. http://collegecost.ed.gov/scorecard/
  •  According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, nearly 20 states have moved formally to performance-based funding for higher education institutions and the majority of states report interest in doing so.
  • Numerous efforts from both parties are being proposed by federal lawmakers to collect and report data about the value of education and the specific first destinations of college graduates.

What does this tell us? The demand for hard data is real and the expectation for data delivery is imminent. The time is NOW if our profession wishes to lead in determining how we can best collect and report data about college graduates and develop the means to do so.

In January at our Advocacy Mashup in Washington D.C., NACE will be releasing Guidelines for First Destination Surveys, developed and reviewed by NACE members. More than 150 members provided commentary and recommendations related to the formulation of these guidelines.

Those attending the Mashup will have the opportunity to discuss the scope and content of the Guidelines as well as consider how to strengthen the data collection and reporting for their institutions. They will also look at how we as a profession can come together to meet the demands being placed upon us externally for accountability and compliance. We hope you can be part of that conversation—but if you can’t, it won’t end there. We look forward to engaging our members in this discussion on an ongoing basis and encourage your participation in the future.

Let’s make sure we don’t let others pave the way for what is certain to happen. Let’s create opportunity and strengthen the role of our profession as we come together to provide high quality and timely data about the outcomes of our graduates.

For more information about the Mashup or to register, go to http://www.naceweb.org/events/advocacy-mashup.aspx.