Redefining Professional Development for Career Advisers

Ross WadeRoss Wade, Assistant Director, Duke University Career Center
Personal blog: http://mrrosswade.wordpress.com/
LinkedIn URL: https://www.linkedin.com/in/rosswade
Twitter: @rrwade
Blogs from Ross Wade.

Does professional development for career services staff need an update? Is the model of “go to a conference or do an assessment training” still as relevant as career services is changing so much and so quickly? What can we do to grow as professionals, connect more with employers and alumni, and gain credibility with our students and other stakeholders? I think it is time to consider redefining what professional development for career services staff means, and how it is done. I’m not talking about ditching annual conferences, they are of great value, what I’m saying is I think it is time to add a few more options.

In July of 2014, Farouk Dey and Christine Y. Cruzvergara, co-authored an article called “10 Future Trends in College Career Services.” Number 10 in their inspiring and thought provoking piece, “New Breed of Professionals,” resonated with me—especially the statement, “To be successful, career center staff must become agile content experts and network catalysts who will lead communities and develop meaningful connections among their constituents.” In my experience, in order to gain credibility with students, having experience in the field in which I advise (media, arts, and entertainment) is very important. When I tell students that I’ve worked in documentary and digital media, and know of some great companies that could be a good fit for them (based on my personal experience) I get student buy-in very quickly.

My ideas for tweaking career services staff professional development options involve creating opportunities for gaining industry experience; generating and growing relationships with employers, alumni, faculty, and staff; and serve as a means for staff to gain some “street cred” (with students, employers, and faculty).

The concept of career staff having the option to do some form of industry internship during the summer is very exciting to me. The internship doesn’t have to be full-time; it could be eight to 10 hours a week over four to six weeks. The internship could be hands-on, or more observational and include informational interviews. Regardless of the specifics, this experience would give staff a chance to understand industry skills and trends as well as positions and roles within specific industries and companies, and the chance to connect with experts and HR professionals.

For example, there is a wonderful art start-up in my area connecting artists to consumers via social media and storytelling—I’d love to intern there, creating content, connecting with artists, and growing the art scene in my community. Think of all the connections I’d make and skills I’d learn. My improved knowledge of this industry and number of contacts in art I’d make would generate credibility with faculty and students.

Approaching employers with the idea of hiring an “adult”/career staff intern may at first raise some eyebrows, but just as we tell our students, if one creates a pitch and plan (with a timeline, tasks, and goals), that is brand new or a modified version of an existing internship program, what could we lose? Don’t want to intern at company? Try an internship at another office at your institution.

For example, it would be a great opportunity to intern with the communications office at my home institution, or in the multicultural center. Think of the new connections to be made and opportunities to find points for future collaboration! Is research your thing? Approach a faculty member focused on an industry or topic of relevance to career development, and pitch a research idea. Spend 10 or so hours a week during the summer researching and writing. Career staff doing research with faculty – whaaaat?! It may sound crazy, but I think it is a wonderful idea, and I bet it is already happening at institutions across the country.

Other benefits include staff cross training opportunities after the internship or research is completed, heightened staff engagement and excitement, and great content (e.g. photos, blog posts, interviews with professionals) to share across campus via social media to generate interest in career services. What ideas do you have? I’d love to get employer thoughts on this. How would you redefine professional development for career services staff?

#NACE15: What Did You Do?

Busy days. Keynotes. Concurrent sessions. Expo Hall. Refreshment breaks. Innovation Labs and Campfire Conversations. Meet ups. Insight Labs. Reunions with friends and colleagues. Networking. International attendees.

Here are some of the highlights from the NACE 2015 Conference & Expo in Anaheim, California.

nace15-first timerMore than 500 wear the first-time attendees ribbon.

 

 

 

 

nace15-jerry housernace15-trudyJerry Houser, associate dean/director Career Services at Willamette University, wins the Chevron Award. Trudy Steinfeld, assistant vice president and executive director of Career Development at New York University, is named to the NACE Academy of Fellows.

The conference opens on Tuesday with a drumbeat. Then, keynote Maulik Pancholy shares his personal journey to embrace his heritage.

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Lindsey speaksLindsey Pollak, keynote speaker and Millennial workplace consultant, draws a standing-room-only crowd on Wednesday.

 

 

 

 

 

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Deputy Under Secretary of Education Jamienne Studley addresses critical issues in higher education in the Thursday keynote for another standing-room-only crowd.

 

 

 

 

 

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Keynote Bradley Snyder, military vet and Paralympian, shares insights into meeting challenges on Friday.

 

 

 

 

New for 2015: Innovation Labs, Campfire Conversations, Insight Labs draw crowds of attendees for extended dialog on professional topics and issues. (Click on pictures to make them bigger.)

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Highlights from the First-Destination Survey of the Class of 2014 results were delivered by Edwin Koc, NACE director of research, public policy, and legislative affairs, and Manny Contomanolis, chair NACE’s First-Destination Survey Team. (You can read the final results on NACEWeb.)

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Professionals in career services and university recruiting share tips, trends, and best practices in 80 concurrent sessions over two-and-a-half days. (Handouts are available to full conference registrants through MyNACE.)

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The Expo Hall attracted attendees looking for the latest information, products, and services for career services and recruiting professionals.

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Kate Brooks, executive director, Office of Personal and Career Development, Wake Forest University, and Alastair Dawe, head of U.S. operations for Explore Horizons, check on their offices between sessions.

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The Thursday night “Surf City USA” celebration featured music, dancing, and refreshments.

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Awards were announced throughout the week with an Innovation Showcase on Thursday featuring winners and finalists with their top-notch programs and best practices.

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Award Winners:

Mentor of the Year Award: Brian Guerrero, University of California – Los Angeles
Volunteer Meritorious Service Award: Chaim Shapiro, Touro College 
Member’s Choice Award: Denise Hopkins,  Kathryn Hutchinson, Michelle Kyriakides, Joni O’Hagan, and the Career Services Team at SJU
NACE/DirectEmployers Catalyst Award:
Jill Miller, Novo Nordisk Inc. 
NACE/Spelman Johnson Group Rising Star Award Winner: Kevin Grubb, Villanova University

See you in 2016 in Chicago, June 7 – 10, 2016!

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Presentation Skills for Aspiring Leaders—Step 3: Takeaways

Sue Keever WattsSue Keever Watts
Senior Director at ROI Communication
Blog: http://keevergroup.wordpress.com/
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/pub/sue-keever-watts/0/aa/b60
Twitter: @SueKeever
Blogs from Sue Keever Watts.

The third element in any presentation is “your story.” Your story is your message. Whether you’re giving a PowerPoint presentation or presenting without any props or aids at all, think of your message as a coherent story.

You want the audience to keep their eyes on you (not on your slides or props). Because we read from left to right, stand to the left (audience’s left) of the screen. Your slides simply keep you on track. The shorter the better.  Too much data and your audience will get overloaded and ultimately disconnect. Don’t anticipate your next slide. Look at the slide as though you’re seeing it for the first time along with the audience. Slides exist to queue you. They’re not the storyteller. You are. Use your voice to drive home your point.

Don’t read your slides verbatim. Reading puts people to sleep and completely kills all interest in your topic. It undermines your credibility and is the fastest way to drive people from the room.

If presenting a quote, look at the slide together and say something like, “Read the words of a great leader.” If you’re presenting findings or statistics, don’t try to fit everything into one slide. Select one statistic per slide and be creative. For example, instead of showing a bar chart of your intern conversion rates over the past five years, show one slide that says “Conversion rates up 75 percent.”

End with a quote, a story, a challenge, or a call to action. If you want to keep people’s attention, make eye contact. If you want to make your story relevant, then use the word “you.” Incorporate statements such as “Have you ever” or “I believe you’ll find” or “What do you think about?”  Your presentation isn’t all about you—it’s all about your audience.

Remember, if your body language or your voice gets in the way of your overall message, you’ll lose your audience. Delivery can make or break your presentation, so spend as much time on your voice and your nonverbal communication as you do your slide deck.

Sue Keever Watts will deliver Presentation Skills for Aspiring Leaders on Wednesday, June 3, at NACE15. She has been helping leaders develop their presentation skills for more than 25 years.

If you missed part 1 or part 2, you can read them on the NACE Blog.

Presentation Skills for Aspiring Leaders—Step 2: Delivery

Sue Keever WattsSue Keever Watts
Senior Director at ROI Communication
Blog: http://keevergroup.wordpress.com/
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/pub/sue-keever-watts/0/aa/b60
Twitter: @SueKeever
Blogs from Sue Keever Watts.

There are three things that matter when you’re presenting. Here’s a hint—one of the three is not your PowerPoint deck. The three things include your nonverbal communication, your voice, and your message. Your body language (nonverbal communication) and voice dramatically impact whether your audience believes what you have to say. Simply put, the way you deliver your message is what people use to judge your level of expertise, intelligence, and trustworthiness. We’ve all watched presentations where we couldn’t get past the speaker’s irritating voice, her pacing, or his lack of eye contact.

Let’s start with the most important of the three, which is nonverbal communication. By this I mean your posture, your body language, and your overall presence. Although difficult, the best way to stand in front of an audience is with your arms at your side. Clasping your hands together is a natural response to fear. In essence, you’re covering or protecting yourself. And, when you clasp your hands, you look nervous (which, of course, you are). When you look nervous, you appear less confident and that impacts your credibility.

You can use your hands to make a point or to point at something, but when not in use, they should be at your side. Also, when you move, move with purpose. Don’t rock back and forth, and don’t wander aimlessly. Walk over to one side of your audience, make eye contact with someone in the audience, make your point, pause, and then walk to another side of the room and do the same thing. Making eye contact with individuals in your audience creates intimacy. Finally, don’t talk at your audience, talk to them. Think of your presentation as a conversation. How would you deliver this information to one person over a cup of coffee? A good presenter is able to close the gap between herself and her audience.

The second most important element in your presentation is your voice. By voice, I mean your cadence, how you punctuate your sentences, and whether or not you pause. Have you ever listened to a presentation and the speaker’s voice never changed? It didn’t speed up or slow down. It didn’t rise or fall. It was flat, it was frenetic, or it was extremely loud throughout the entire presentation. More than likely, you lost interest.

Effective presenters raise their voices to accentuate a point. They lower their voices to almost a whisper to draw in their audience. Pausing is one of the most effective tools in the presenter’s arsenal. Every time you pause, you give the audience time to fully absorb what you’ve said. It is truly the only way that you can effectively get your message across. Oftentimes people give too much information. They give it too quickly. They don’t pause. And, then they wonder why no one was able to remember what they said. Pause often, and pause after you’ve made an important point. Finally, use your voice to punctuate your sentences. Don’t be afraid to demonstrate a little emotion by raising your voice (or lowering your voice), using your arms, or simply pausing to let the full impact of your message reach the audience.

Tomorrow, we’ll talk about takeaways. If you have any suggestions or related stories, please e-mail me at swatts@roico.com.

Read Step 1 on the NACE Blog. Also, see Step 3.

Presentation Skills for Aspiring Leaders—Step 1: Prep Work

Sue Keever WattsSue Keever Watts
Senior Director at ROI Communication
Blog: http://keevergroup.wordpress.com/
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/pub/sue-keever-watts/0/aa/b60
Twitter: @SueKeever
Blogs from Sue Keever Watts.

All great presenters have one thing in common: they give, they don’t take. In fact, the best way to give a truly memorable presentation is to turn the tables and shift the focus away from you and onto your audience. In this three-part series, we’ll cover the essential elements of a powerful presentation—prep work, delivery, and takeaways. Anyone can be a great presenter, I promise. It just takes practice. Here are some tips for getting started:

  1. See yourself as a present-er. I know it’s cheesy, but if you think of your presentation as a gift, then you’re much more likely to capture the attention of your audience.
  2. Step away from the computer. Never build your presentation with a PowerPoint template. Your presentation isn’t your PowerPoint deck. The presentation is you—your brain, your ideas, your perspective, and your knowledge. Firm up your ideas before you put them into a template.
  3. Know your audience. Who are they and what information do they need? A presentation isn’t about holding people captive for an hour. It’s an opportunity to captivate, inspire, inform, transform, or educate.
  4. Identify one big idea. What do you want your audience to take away? Focus on no more than two-to-three key points, but find a repeating theme (one big idea) that pulls it all together.
  5. Use stories to engage your audience. Look for opportunities to incorporate brief stories into your presentation. Don’t be afraid to make it personal—use, perhaps, a story that influenced your viewpoint or position on the subject.
  6. Nail the opening. Audiences are easily distracted. You have to capture their attention quickly. Open with a surprising fact, a related story, or a question. Engage your audience from the get-go. Never open with an apology, excuse, or long-winded review of your accomplishments.
  7. PowerPoint isn’t the problem: bullet points are. Most PowerPoint presentations could give themselves. They’re packed with too many words, far too many ideas, and way too many instructions. If you use PowerPoint, think of the meaning of each slide. What idea are you trying to get across? Find an appropriate photo or graphic as the background and create one sentence that captures the essence of your message. Just one sentence per slide.
  8. Visualize. As you prepare to give your presentation, ask yourself what you would say if technology failed and it was just you and the audience. Then, visualize each slide along with the key message you’re trying to convey. Practice. Practice. Practice.
  9. Know when to stop. Your audience has an attention span of about 18 minutes. If you have an hour to speak, be sure to create opportunities for audience participation, discussion, and/or brainstorming. If you want your audience to retain the information you’ve presented, they have to participate.
  10. Prepare for objections or questions in advance. Determine whether you’re going to take questions during, between sections, or after your presentation. Always repeat the question. Don’t be afraid to say, “I don’t know, but I’ll get back to you.”

Tomorrow, we’ll talk about how to deliver an effective presentation. If you have any suggestions or related stories, please e-mail them to me at swatts@roico.com.

Sue Keever Watts will deliver Presentation Skills for Aspiring Leaders on Wednesday, June 3, at NACE15. She has been helping leaders develop their presentation skills for more than 25 years.

Read: Step 2 and Step 3

Top 10 Reasons to Attend NACE15

Chaim Shapiro

Chaim Shapiro
Website: http://chaimshapiro.com/
Twitter: @chaimshapiro
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/chaimshapiro
Blogs from Chaim Shapiro.

Excitement is in the air. NACE15 is just a few short weeks away! In honor of David Letterman, I present the “Top 10 Reasons to Attend NACE15!”

10) Tell your boss you can’t wait to hear Lindsey Pollak discuss her book Becoming the Boss.

9) Find out what a “recharging lounge” is and whether you can get one at home!

8) See how many times you can ride the “It’s A Small World” ride without falling into a trance.

7) Catch an Angels game! They are in town and a couple of blocks from the hotel!

6) Network California style. Goofy hats are encouraged (voice impressions are not).

5) Find out how we can have “campfire conversations” indoors!

4) Find out what “dry heat” REALLY means in California in June.

3) You should try to learn something by attending the GREAT workshops.

2) Join the debate—are those clouds or is that smog?

1) Match NACE Board members to their doppelganger Disney characters!

Find Chaim Shapiro, whose doppelganger may be Fozzie Bear, facilitating a campfire conversation on social media at NACE15.

Career Services Becomes a Primary Focus for Student Affairs

Heather TranenHeather Tranen, Associate Director, University of Pennsylvania Career Services
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/heathertranen

With increasing attention on return on investment in higher education, it’s no wonder that the pressure subsequently increases on career services professionals to deliver. As a result, career services becomes a more central point of discussion within the realm of student affairs.

My former colleague, Leah Lattimore, and I submitted a career services focused workshop for National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) to explore the effective communication strategies that promote lifelong career development.

Luckily, our crawfish dreams were answered and our proposal was New Orleans-bound for NASPA 2015: Navigating Courage.

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We felt excited about presenting on our topic to a different audience. What I did not expect to find was the plethora of other career-related sessions throughout the conference. I was able to learn more about data/assessment, the future of career services, the importance of early engagement, and recruitment trends. Sessions were also well attended by a cross-section of departments (housing, student activities, and alumni relations to name a few).  Undoubtedly, other student affairs professionals are recognizing career development as a high impact area of their field.

A few weeks later, I am now fully able to digest (literally and figuratively), the main takeaways from the conference as they relate to our work as career services practitioners. None of this information is surprising. However, it all provides interesting insight into where the industry is at the moment, and reminds us how to focus our work.

Data, data, data. As you might suspect, data and showcasing ROI through hard numbers was a hot topic. I don’t mean to brag, but Penn collects data and showcases it in a way where it frames a story for its students (e.g. What can I do with my major, or Where are people with my major working geographically?). One question posed and potentially worth considering to include in your placement surveys would be, “Why didn’t students use career services?” I enjoyed learning what offices at John Jay and FSU are doing during these discussions, and think it is worth thinking beyond just our placement statistics to explore how the data creates a story.

Customized, targeted services. Thought leaders from RIT, NYU, Stanford, and George Mason talked about the future of career services. The need for the core services with a targeted approach will only become an increasing pressure on us as career services professionals. Additionally, Georgia State discussed their targeted programming/niche career fairs. This was also a leading theme in our presentation.

Early engagement. Schools like UConn are offering credit-bearing First-Year Experience (FYE) courses. This definitely seems like an interesting way to tie career services to the academic enterprise and to put career services at the forefront of students’ minds from the very beginning of their college experience.

Recruiting trends. Employers pursuing a “soft” recruiting approach by targeting candidates via social media and at career development events vs. the more traditional recruitment events (e.g. career fairs and information sessions) is also a trend schools are seeing.

That career services has become a central focus within higher education came when speaker Trudy Steinfeld addressed a standing-room only group. She said, “I presented at NASPA many years ago. Guess how many people were in my session? Six.”

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Trudy Steinfeld said to a standing room only group, “I presented at NASPA many years ago. Guess how many people were in my session? Six.”

Now it’s up to us as professionals in the field to continue delivering top-tier work, and to innovate ways that connect our students to the placement numbers society seeks and to the careers that lead them to fulfilling work.