LEGO & The Career Architecture Framework

Doug Miller

A post by Guest Blogger, Doug Miller, faculty member and New Media

Douglas Lee Miller – Chicago, IL | On Twitter:@douglasLmiller



Presenters: Anne Scholl-Fiedler and Jim Salvucci, Stevenson University

What is the career architecture model?

It mentors students through a process of learning

1)who they are at their best (personal direction)

2)what they are learning (discipline expertise) and

3)how they will apply their skills (professional know-how.)

Tag line: “dream about your future-design your career.”

The first year seminar is housed in academic units and led by faculty but is heavily facilitated by career services. It culminates in a massive competition amongst teams of freshman students who undertake a project to represent – in LEGO bricks – what career architecture means to them on their own terms.

Functionally, the program begins with the students being given Holland assessments of interest and skills. This guides the faculty in creating teams whose individuals will perform functions related to the idea generation, design, and ultimately the build process of their LEGO creations. Working in three dimensions with elements familiar from childhood, the students soon find themselves involved in a meta-discussion about Career Architecture as a framework.

783 students participated in one year's Lego challenge. The whole process is engineered to reflect the form and structure of the Career Architecture Framework itself, full of learning objectives. The LEGO project itself is judged based on the successfulness of its representation; how well does the plastic physical model represent the three more ephemeral ideological elements of the career architecture framework? That's what they are judged on. Each major's representation is highly unique and specific to their field despite starting from the same point. There is a high degree of symbolism to the lego models much like with something like parade floats.

After the event, a full array of assessments are deployed in person and personalized career architecture plans are developed.

Salvucci's working theory is about the transactional nature of or common interactions with students in higher education as juxtaposed against a more transformational learning model. Both aspects are at play in the interactions and both are necessary but there may be value according to Salvucci in focusing on the transformational nature of a student's exposure to higher education characterizing the transactional as “the descent” vs. “the ascent” – purchase of the transcript vs the birth of an enlightened being.

How, you might ask, is this done from a curriculum development and approval point of view? Salvucci as the Dean works very closely in tandem with Scholl-Fiedler in Career Services.

Most English programs are content driven; fthe challenge is to create measurably attainable graduated skills – like problem solving – but they also tie them to career. They work collaboratively within the divisions to tailor the capstones toward career.

English, psychology, theatre and film-video are all modeled here. All require internships. Many have career track courses.

Psychology has three 1 credit courses on career development.

“Quad stories” was deployed to gather career stories to keep people from thinking careers are linear. Their objective with this tool? “Creating a culture of personal narrative.” Using personal narrative to determine skills and interests.

They have Industry liaisons in their office to help meet those goals

In the end, they see themselves as brokers of knowledge not just spinners of information.

Bloggers thoughts: As an avid fan of LEGO, learning outcomes, ideological frameworks, and personal narrative, I took a host of ideas and inspiration from this fascinating session. The only caveat offered about working so closely with faculty for this amazing strategic construct and series of events echoes common refrains I hear in my own position. “It's great that you have someone at your institution like you – but what if that key component is missing at our school?” Anne Scholl-Fiedler and Jim Salvucci both represent Stevenson University well and it is clear this kind of innovation and freedom could not exist were either of them the type to not be open to collaboration. Salvucci sees the need for collaboration as obvious. My caveat to other schools? Some results may vary.


Career Services Competencies, Predictions for the Future, and Hugs

kevin grubbA post by NACE Guest Blogger, Kevin Grubb.
Assistant Director at Villanova University’s Career Center.
Twitter: @kevincgrubb
Blog: “social @ edu”.

 If I had to sum it up what happened today at the NACE conference for me in as little words as possible, there you’d have it.  Let me cut right to the chase and tell you some of what I have learned today in my sessions, mixed in with some commentary on my part.

Career Services Competencies

This morning, members of a NACE task force on career services competencies, Laura Melius and Sam Ratcliffe, debuted the association’s career services competencies.  What a cohesive, thorough document.  It describes, from basic to intermediate to advanced, the skill set needed to be successful in career services.  There’s no way I could possibly explain it all in a blog post, so let me tell you where to find it right now: on your mobile device, download the NACE conference app.  From the home screen, click on “More” in the bottom right corner.  Then, click on “Resources,” and then click on “Career Services Competencies.”  There you’ll have it!  NACE will also be releasing this on their website soon.

What I definitely can share with you is all of the ways our group thought the competencies would be helpful in our everyday practices.  Here’s just a little bit of what we brainstormed:

The competencies can help us…

  • With the performance management process and staff development, using the competencies as a benchmark to start from
  • Create and change job descriptions of positions within offices to match what is needed at a college or university
  • Demonstrate where staff or the office needs to get resources, to improve budgets for professional development and staffing
  • Show senior leadership at our institutions what we do and what we need to do
  • In the recruiting process for our offices: we can assess candidates’ competencies in interviews

And where do we see the competencies going from here?  Sam made it clear that this is a “living document” – one that we should consider for revision and review regularly.  As our jobs and the career services landscape continues to evolve, so should the competencies.  There will be a feedback form on the NACE website with the document for us all to add our voices.  In addition, NACE plans to build a continuum of learning & resources based on this competency guide.  There is talk of creating a certification program based on the competencies, though that will take time to properly develop.  After looking at the document myself, I am excited to see where this could lead us.  Take a look!

The Future of Career Services

One of my afternoon sessions was this one, led by Tom Devlin, Tom Halasz, and Marilyn Mackes.  I’ll start off by saying – this was packed!  Here’s a quick shot of the room which does not do it justice (I tried):

Tom, Tom & Marilyn put together a thought-provoking, conversation-starting, and funny presentation.  Smart & funny is a combination I think of like cookies & milk – they are good alone, and even better together.  Each of these three had that mix of both.

The presentation centered around three major points, and I’ll the cliff notes version here to help you get a flavor of it.  Would love to hear your thoughts on the future of career services, too, so please share in a comment!

The higher education landscape is dramatically changing.  Colleges & universities have limited resources and revenue.  The growth period for high school graduates is officially over, and will be in a decline for the next 10-20 years.  MOOCs, social media, and other technologies are shifting how work gets done and the expectations of students.  On top of that, there are several initiatives at the state and federal level that seek to define the outcomes or “ROI” of higher education.

Sounds pretty grim, yes?  I almost hid under my chair (…kidding).  In challenge, lies opportunity, and that’s there we, career services, come in.  Cue emphatic and uplifting trumpet sounds.

Now, we have the opportunity to define ourselves as campus-wide career services leaders, partnering with faculty who may need us more than ever.  For many, we may want to consider focusing on more than just the first-year experience, but consider the sophomore experience.  How are we providing support to students at a critical time in their academic lives – when many choosing or honing in on majors and some of the tough decisions?

Where could this all be going?  Tom Devlin provided some of his thoughts going forward, which included: online appointment scheduling with an interactive and customized response to the appointment scheduler’s needs.  So, when a student consider pre-med enters that in to their appointment notes for the counselor, a sort of “road map” for exploring pre-med options appears and suggests ideas for the student.  Tom suggests we may be focusing as much or more on internships as we are right now on post-graduate opportunities.  They are becoming the “first job” for everyone.  Perhaps we will develop better relationships with third-party providers who can help us perform some tasks we need to complete, but are not as high on our list of priorities.

What I thought was most interesting about this session was that Tom, Tom, and Marilyn opened up the floor to hear our thoughts and “predictions” for the future.  I’ll share mine and hope that it allows you to share yours on this blog in a comment.

One of my specialties is definitely social media.  Yes, I am a millennial, but no, I don’t spend all day on it – I promise.  Anyway, I teach a 1 credit class I created at Villanova on how students can use social media in their job searches.  What I am noticing from that, when I reflect on the bigger picture of a lot of their questions and concerns, is this.  We need to help students jump this psychological hurdle of looking at themselves as students to begin considering themselves as professionals.  With social media, the “personal” and “professional” world collide, and it happens for students faster and sooner than ever before.  Whereas one funny, perhaps not most impressing moment was private before, now it might be public and online for unknown others to view via social media.  If we can help students understand themselves, their skills, and their experiences as professional and valuable, they are much more likely to feel proud and confident talking about all of this online.  Then, they attract others with similar professional interests to them, and thus become better networked and viewed more favorably by those in seats of recruiting.

At the end of the first full day at the conference, the only other big reflection I have is that today there was so much hugging.  Hugs and warm greetings around every corner I turned, and I am actually not exaggerating.  So, if I can send you one non career services or recruiting related item from Orlando, it’s a hug from everyone at the NACE conference.

Notes on Motivating Students & Grads to Get on the Ball

Doug MillerA post by Guest Blogger, Doug Miller, faculty member and New Media Manager, DePaul University

Douglas Lee Miller – Chicago, IL | On Twitter: @douglasLmiller

Motivating GenY is different from GenX – it is less about them and more about you.

GenY unemployment at 9% but what often gets overlooked is an even worse situation about UNDERemployment. Over half according to the Atlantic.

Many are delaying major life decisions as a result.

Retiring workers need to be replaced so there are some opportunities. There is a “grey ceiling” that exists for GenX since many boomers are delaying retirement due to recent economic downturns. When they do leave, GenX is not large enough to fill those spots so GenY will benefit – eventually. Luckily it seems employers are hungry for the fresh perspectives and creativity which is good for GenY but might be bad for GenX since there is baggage that comes along with bringing them on.

GenY students can benefit from this but often drop the ball when it comes to online presence and offline soft skills in interviewing and communication of transferable skills.

As a result the Career Advisory Board has been developed to meet the challenges facing career advisors.

47% of directors view lack of motivation as a major barrier for recent grads.

35% rank that lack of motivation as the number one barrier yet only 24% felt students lacked the skills needed to get careers. Why is this dissonance here?

Part of that is in the perceived mindset of GenY and in their girth. 4 million more than boomers (largest in US history.) It is believed that most GenYers believe they are better than the competition – obviously this can't be the case but their enculturation was such that they were all highly valued.

More insight can be found in an exploration of motivation (intrinsic vs. extrinsic.) A great resource about this is Dan Pink's book Drive.

Appeal to their personal passion and interest. Give over control to increase intrinsic motivation. Share the big picture. Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us (9781594484803): Daniel H. Pink: Books

Sometimes extrinsic is appropriate sometimes intrinsic. It depends on the person and the task. Luckily seeing people as individuals increases affinity among GenY in general so doing so increases intrinsic motivation.

Make the most of the first interaction – it will be key. Judgements will be made quickly.

They will remember more about how you made them feel than what you said. – Alexandra Levit

Start early, start often. Share expectations early – communicate what GenY is expected to do. Utilize peer influence – hold support group style events that pair older students with younger students (mentoring circles) to connect and share issues. Facilitate where you can. Motivate both students and peer mentors.

Model successful GenYers as success story marketing via in-person or virtual billboards for praise.

Bloggers thoughts: My concern with testimonials is that there may be unmeasurable negative consequences – that many students may have decreased motivation with the lifting up of outlier examples and great successes, due to lowered self esteem and a feeling of being left out or unfairly excluded. If GenY all feel like they are the best, should we be prepared to showcase all students to avoid making some feel excluded? Most in the room don't seem to share my concern.

Get top executives to call out those good examples.

They played a voicemail of an emotionally charged success thank you as a way to remind career service folks to feel empowered.

Present individual challenges to boost intrinsic motivation. Making challenges intriguing and game like can be highly effective but requires the creativity and involvement of the entire community. Motivation decreases quickly with failed expectations so make sure to manage expectations. Help them understand the mechanics of the process to keep them from being demotivated.

Faculty and parents can be key allies, just as can peers.

Final Blogger Thoughts: There was some discussion of the need to integrate digital tools. While I agree, I feel the need to warn that there is far more to leveraging social media than just Facebook – and in fact it may soon be the last place we want to be. Likewise, I worry that using digital tools could create negative impressions because we simply cannot match the user experience offered by modern digital tools.

Career Advisory Board | Devry University

Do You Have a Hard to Answer Question?

Curious about how to select top schools based on diversity statistics and majors? Or how about benchmarking budgets, staffing and services to students with other peer schools?

This year the NACE booth #203 will be staffed by our research experts during the breaks and lunch. We’ll be covering information on internships and co-op programs, salary, recruiting and career services benchmarks and student expectations, social media and the job outlook.

Stop by and meet Andrea and Ed our staff research experts!

2 Weeks Away From #NACE12!

In exactly 2 weeks, the NACE 2012 Conference & Expo will kick off at the Paris Las Vegas. Is everyone getting as excited as I am?! With the big event coming up soon I thought now would be a good time to post a few important reminders – Enjoy!

- First off, you can STILL register for the conference by clicking here. And for those of you who are super procrastinators, you can register on-site as well.

- The conference dress is business casual. Think Polos, Khakis, Capri pants, Sundresses, etc. Whatever you do, don’t forget to pack your RED for the Opening Celebration and Awards Presentation.

- Do you speak tweet? Then you will definitely want to attend the #NACE12 Tweetup – Wednesday night at 5:30 pm. Light refreshments and hors d’oeuvres will be served and a cash bar will be available. Stick around until 6:30 when a Macy’s Gift Card will be given away! You can RSVP for the Tweetup by clicking here.

- If you have a smartphone, you will definitely want to download the NACE Conference App from the iPhone and Android markets before you get to Las Vegas.

- This year NACE is giving you some time off on Thursday night to take in the sights on your own. You can make dinning reservations ahead of time by clicking here.

Stay tuned tomorrow for a very special pre-conference post!