The Assessment Diaries: It’s Not Just Data

Desalina Allen

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

 

I have to admit that I’m pretty left brained when it comes to my work.  In fact, the thought of spending a quiet afternoon in front of Microsoft Excel, coffee in-hand, warms my heart (did I mention that I love coffee?).

photo credit: Shereen M via photopincc

It’s for that reason that when I first started learning about assessment I often equated it with data collection – as I’m sure many others do as well. Don’t get me wrong, it’s important to know how many and what types of students are using your services.  But, in addition to those metrics, it’s also valuable to think about demonstrating your offices’ success using qualitative information. Like J.K. Rowling said, “there’s always room for a story that can transport people to another place,” and who wouldn’t want advice from someone who lives in a house like this:

So what exactly is qualitative information? Basically, anything other than numerical data. It’s been on my mind because it seems that lately we have received quite a few requests for student success stories.  This isn’t surprising – stories supplement, support and strengthen the metrics we already share – and, unlike me, not everyone finds joy in looking at pie charts all day.

photo credit: mark.groves via photopin cc

Here are some examples of ways you can collect and organize qualitative information and how these methods support your assessment objectives:

  • Focus Groups or Advisory Boards:  These two methods are great ways to better understand your students’ needs.  They function well if you’ve sent out a survey and want help explaining some of the findings or if you feel (like many of us do) that your students are suffering from survey fatigue and won’t respond to one more request.  Focus groups tend to be groups brought together one time around a specific topic whereas advisory boards could meet throughout the academic year.  In both cases, be thoughtful about who you invite to the table (Do you want students from a particular background or school? Is it open to everyone or might you want to conduct interviews first?).  You’ll also want to think critically about who should be facilitating.  Consider both staff members and unbiased professionals who are specially trained.  Either way, be sure to document the planning, take notes/transcribe, and be ready to plan follow-up actions based on what you learned.

  • Word Association Exercises (Pre and Post):  Have students write down or share words they associate with a particular topic before and after an event or presentation to help measure if your core message came across.  For example, in a seminar on interviewing students may start the session offering words like “scary” or “questioning” and end sharing words like “preparation,” “practice” or “conversation.”  Keep track of the terms shared and use an application like wordle to look at the pre and post results side-by-side.

  • Observation:  You don’t need to bring in a team of consultants every time you need an external perspective.  Consider asking a trusted career services professional to attend your career fair, observe a workshop or review your employer services offerings and provide written feedback and suggestions. Offer your expertise on another topic to avoid paying a fee.  Keep notes on changes you have implemented based on the observation.

  • Benchmarking:  There are many reasons to benchmark.  For assessment purposes knowing what other schools are doing and how they compare to you helps give others context.  Being able to say that your program is the first of it’s kind or that it’s modeled off of an award winning one developed by a colleague may make more of an impact when combined with your standard student satisfaction survey results.

  • Staff:  We all are lucky enough to receive the occasional thank you note or email from a student who has really benefited from the programs and resources provided by the career center.  Come up with a standardized way to be able to quickly track those students.  It could be something as easy as a document on a shared drive or even a flag in your student management system.  Be sure to ask students’ permission, saying something like, “I’m so happy to hear our mock interview meeting helped you land that internship!  We are always looking for students who are willing to share their positive experiences, would you be comfortable sharing this information in the future should we receive a request?”

I’m sure there are many more ways to collect this type of information – please leave your questions and share your own experiences below!

The Importance of Real Life Connections in Recruiting

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

In my role at Villanova University’s Career Center, I have the altogether stressful yet enormously satisfying duty of planning our university-wide career fairs on campus.  We wrapped up our first of these earlier in September, and after all the resumes were filed Handshakes: a real life connectionand business cards exchanged, I got to thinking about why events like these are so important.  Our motto for this year’s fairs is “Real Life Connections, Real World Opportunities,” and I think that phrase says it all for me.

I mentioned in a post from the conference that I am a Millennial; part of the “tech-obsessed” and “wildly ambitious” generation that wants to wear flip-flops to work (for the record, I much prefer boat shoes to flip flops, and I’m a fan of professional dress).  I think social media is a great way to communicate, Google Hangouts are amazing and I am blown away by what we can do with virtual meetings, conferences and career fairs.  But, still, there’s nothing better to me than doing something or meeting someone in real life, or “IRL” as I’d say on Twitter.  I think this is key in recruiting, too.

Why do the “real life connections” matter?  Here’s what I’ve come up with:

1.) A 2010 New York Times article, “Evidence That Little Touches Do Mean So Much,” mentions numerous studies which demonstrate that physical touch “can lead to clear, almost immediate changes in how people think and behave.”  As we all know, how one appears and sounds are important.  But, that all-important handshake at a networking event is truly all-important.  The physical touch adds another dimension to the communication.

2.) Meeting in real life can inspire more trust between people, one Forbes columnist found in her own research.  It seems there’s something about bringing the connection to life, real life, that makes people more generous toward each other.  I remember when I had my first real “tweetup.”  In 2009, I met Shannon Kelly on Twitter.  We were both running social media accounts for our career centers, and frankly, we were trying to figure out how to make it all work.  We stayed in touch, and eventually I met her in her office at Penn Career Services in 2010.  Did it make me trust her more?  Though I wasn’t measuring that at the time, I believe it did.  It was a step in building a connection and resulting friendship that I value very much now.  Similarly, I see the excitement in students as they get the opportunity to meet with recruiters and professionals after reading about them online.

3.) Sometimes, things you wear or carry are key conversation starters.  An Inc Magazine author commented on the fact that a pink faux ostrich bag she bought has brought her several compliments and started conversations with people.  I doubt that pink faux ostrich would ever look good on me, but I can certainly say that I’ve been surprised when people have commented on my new shoes, new pants, lunch bags, etc. when I had no intention of making a statement with them.  Details like these just might not be captured virtually. There’s another benefit to meeting in person.

Technology is incredible.  Virtual meetings are great.  But, when it comes to making a connection, nothing beats real life.  What do you think, NACE blog readers?

The Assessment Diaries: An Introduction

Desalina Allen

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






The vampires are doing it….

And even that Carrie from Sex in the City (don’t pretend you aren’t watching)….

So why not chronicle the exciting, interesting and sometimes challenging task of Assessment in Career Services?

Assessment is indeed a hot topic thanks to the increasing pressure on institutions to demonstrate student outcomes and learning coming from parents, students, the media, accreditors, and the government.  Many of us have attended a workshop or presentations providing an overview of assessment or strategies for writing learning goals and objectives.  What happens when you get back to the office and have to put that theory into practice? How do you deal with lack of time, ever-changing technology, and the need to motivate others to help you?

While assessment is formally part of my role at NYU’s Wasserman Center for Career Development, it’s still really difficult to devote time and energy to the medium and long term planning and brainstorming necessary to set up our office for future success.  Student counseling, employer outreach, program planning and daily troubleshooting often seem to be higher priorities when I look at my email in the morning.  But assessment does need to be made a priority and nothing feels better than having accurate information to share when you get that call from a Dean, faculty member, parent or colleague requesting data or a success story.

With this series,  I hope to provide a realistic perspective on what it’s like not only to think about, but to also enact these strategies day-to-day.  The more I learn about and implement assessment strategies, the more I notice ways in which we can improve the way we collect, share and evaluate information. I’ll share my own tips, mistakes and challenges. I may even reach out to professionals in and outside of the career services world for advice and commentary.  I’ll look forward to your comments, feedback and ideas.

photo credit: h.koppdelaney via photopin cc

The NACE Blog Is Ready for Takeoff; Career Services and College Recruiters – Join Us!

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

The airport runway

The runway has been cleared, bags are neatly stowed away in overheard storage areas and there’s a pack of career services and college recruiting professionals who are ready to take flight with this blog for the 2013 – 2014 year in NACE.

At the 2013 NACE conference in Orlando, I had the pleasure of writing as a featured blogger, doing my best to bring you along with me as I attended sessions and reflected on what was learned over the course of those few days.  I am happy to report that, throughout this year, I will serve as the “NACE Ambassador” as appointed by current NACE President, Dan Black (thank you, Dan), to continue that work.  As part of my duties, I will be here on this blog, writing about our profession and, at times, bringing you the inside story from NACE regarding what our committees and leadership team are doing.  My goal for this year is to help be a link between the membership and the volunteers and staff of NACE who work to move our profession forward.

In addition to my posts, there will be several other career services and college recruiting pros who will be adding their voice to this blog on a regular basis.  With specialties in assessment, social media and student marketing, I expect this group will provide valuable insight and ideas all year long.

Follow the NACE blog

In the upper right-hand side of the blog homepage, click on the “Follow” button.

I invite you to join us for this year, and the best way to stay up to date with us is to “Follow” the blog to get automatic updates when a new post pops up.  If you follow NACE on Twitter, you’ll also see the posts tweeted out as new content becomes available.  I would also encourage you to join the National Association of Colleges & Employers group on LinkedIn, where updates will also be shared.

I’m looking forward to connecting with you more, NACE members, and to all of the discussions we’ll have on this blog.  What are some things you most want to read about on the NACE blog this year?

Highlights from the Social Media Mashup, #NACESocial

Espie SantiagoEspie Santiago, NACE Guest Blogger, is an assistant director of career counseling at the Stanford University Career Development Center

Twitter: @espie_s
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/espiesantiago

I am happy to report that NACE’s Social Media Mashup in San Jose exceeded my expectations. Here’s my best attempt to give you a synopsis of the two-day event.

Day 1:
Eager to mash it up with colleagues familiar and new, I arrived to #NACESocial like a geek – fashionably early. I was warmly welcomed by NACE’s Marilyn Mackes and Mallory Gott-Ortiz, and key organizer Dawn Carter from NetApp. Not before long, I was surrounded by nearly 100 colleagues, all excited to learn about trends and best practices in social media – present and future.

First on the agenda was David Spector, Global Head of Mobile, TMP Worldwide, who gave the opening keynote address: The Art & Science of Social Media.
TMP

David reminded us of how far technology has evolved since the 90s – when there was dial-up internet through “classic devices” and you could not use your phone and the web at the same time. But now we can’t live without our mobile devices, and even though many have a choice of going to a laptop or desktop, a majority of us favor using our smartphones over any other device:

• 81% of searches are done via mobile because of either speed or convenience
• 77% of mobile searches are conducted at home or work
• Only 17% of searches are conducted on the go

By 2016, it is predicted that 92% of all college graduates will own smartphones.
The key takeaway for me was that if you aren’t designing your product or services for a mobile device/smartphone, then you are behind the curve.

However, despite the inundation of social media, David emphasized that human interaction still prevails. The need for people to connect is at the center of why social media was created in the first place.

After the opening keynote, I had the difficult task of deciding which concurrent session to attend. After much debate, I settled on the following:

Student Panel: Successfully Engaging Students With Social and Digital Media
Tom Devlin from UC Berkeley moderated a panel of recent grads and current students to discuss how they used social media to conduct their job and internship searches. All panelists commented that LinkedIn strongly contributed to their success in landing positions. They also said the trend is moving away from using Facebook, but more activity on LinkedIn and Twitter with YouTube and Instagram as additional popular social media platforms.

The key takeaway from this session was that students are beginning to use LinkedIn more and more to connect with employers. Employers – beef up those company pages!

Day 2:
After a great breakfast and some in-person networking, I, again, was tasked with choosing between some equally enticing presentations. Luckily, I would be conducting a presentation on “Strategies to Help Students Get the Most from their LinkedIn Experience” during the final presentation timeslot, so I had one less decision to make.

First, I attended: The Changing Face of Social Media in Career Services, presented by Manny Contomanolis from RIT and Trudy Steinfeld from NYU.

Manny and Trudy had the most hilarious slide from the entire mashup, describing social media sites, deconstructed from the toilet.
SocialMediaDecon

They had some many great takeaways from their presentation, but here my favorites:

• What’s Next in Social Media? It’s mobile, visual, greater integration (easier to share content across multi-platforms), social at the institutional scale, content affirmed as king, and the importance of brand management

• Key Principles in Social Media Strategy Development
1) Flexibility 2) Content driven 3) Appropriate investments 4) Involve the right people
5) Commitment

• Don’t be too quick as to use every social media application that comes out!
• Know your institution and what would suit it best. For example, Pinterest is dominated by female users, so it may not be most the effective use of time if your campus is male-dominated.
• If nothing else, just ask yourself the following to drive your strategy: “Is it concise, accurate, relevant and timely?”

Next, I chose to attend: Is Campus Recruiting Really a Thing of the Past?, presented by Rob Humphrey from LinkedIn.

Basically, the answer is no! Phew, I still have a job! With the creation of things like University pages, lowering the user age to 14, and “CheckIn” which gives employers easy access to candidate data for career fairs and other events, LinkedIn will continue to complement the campus recruiting experience through the use of social technology. Campus recruiting is reinventing itself with the ease of LinkedIn’s tools.

Lastly, Ryan Glick from Google gave the closing keynote address: Search & Social.
Ryan talked about lots of great ideas for using Google tools for social recruiting. He discussed the trends and changing landscape of the job industry, mobile as a social tool, and the use of video (YouTube) to grow and engage your audience. And I especially enjoyed learning how Google+ can help build communities.
Google
Again – my key takeaway from his presentation amongst a lot of great content is MOBILE, MOBILE, MOBILE! Job seekers are using their smartphones to look for jobs, not to apply for them per se, but to search for them, making mobile a huge part of the job-seeking experience. (Job seekers and employers looking to build a mobile site should look at Indeed.)

Conclusion
There was so much great information to be gained from #NACESocial that I am so happy that NACE is sharing the presentations with us online. I look forward to continuing to dialogue about trends and best practices in social media with my colleagues in career services and recruiting.

Leveraging Social Media to Engage Students

Dan BlackA post from Dan Black, Americas Director of Recruiting, Ernst & Young LLP
2013-14 NACE President






On Thursday, August 22, I’ll be moderating a panel of employers as they discuss their digital engagement strategies at the NACE Social Media Mashup (#NACESocial).

We’ll be discussing best practices, including how to leverage social media to engage students.

At Symantec, for example, Emma Hooks and her team don’t just use social media to push content: Instead, they’ve built a lot of interactivity into their Facebook page. (The downside according to Emma: Maintaining the Facebook page in real time can be challenging.)

eBay focuses on just-in-time interactions, responding to posts 24/7/365. Jen Lamorena says eBay has very clear goals for all of its social media channels, and sees that having a “face” or “voice” behind eBay’s efforts is critical.

InternMatch provides unique content to its target audience while maintaining a voice that is true to the company’s culture and brand, explains Ashley Mosley. InternMatch also uses Google+, a tool that many employers are eager to learn more about.

And Emily Vera says Northrop Grumman strives for the “viral reach” by focusing its strategy on generating quality content that not only engages its immediate following, but prompts them to share it so it reaches an exponentially higher number of users.

Also of particular note during the Mashup will be the introduction of NACE’s Career Counselor’s Guides to Social Media in the Job Search. Written by career services professional for careers services professionals, these free resources cover LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and blogs, and will help practitioners assist their students in creating strong profiles, networking and connecting, and finding jobs and internships on these networks. (Thanks to Kevin Grubb, Villanova University; Shannon Kelly, University of Pennsylvania; and Megan Wolleben, Bucknell University, for all their work!)

I’m excited to be a part of this unique event and I’m eager to share the ways we at EY use social media to brand ourselves and attract top talent. And because of the robust group of presenters and attendees and the breadth of the programming, I know I’ll leave San Jose with a greater knowledge of how we can leverage social media to achieve our goals.

Debrief of #NACE13: Day 1

Sarah MartinA post by Guest Blogger, Sarah Martin, College Relations and Social Media Recruiter, Garmin International
Twitter: @workatgarmin
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/SarahMartin1I had the privilege to attend 3 workshops on Day 1: Setting Standards for the Candidate Experience, Professional Standards for University Relations and Recruiting, and Effectively Utilizing Mobile Technologies. Conferences tend to be information overload, so I’d like to share my quick take-a-ways from each workshop.

Setting Standards for the Candidate Experience:
• Build your own business case with numbers and dollars
• Audit yourself
• It’s critical to seek feedback from your candidates (and not just those you end up hiring)
• Match your medium to your audience
• Be truthful when answering candidate questions
• Deliver what you promise
*Presenter: Gerry Crispin, CareerXroads

Professional Standards for University Relations and Recruiting:
How many of you knew there were URR standards published in 1976? Did you realize those standards were recently updated for the first time?! Thank you #NACE13! The updated standards are currently available through the NACE13 app and will be on the NACE web site within the next couple of weeks. I’m impressed that 40+ individuals came together to “get it right.” This document is sure to help employers across the country assess the current state of their College Recruitment programs, as well as, provide guidance for a lasting, successful future. I’m eager to take a closer look at the details!
*Presenter: Jeff Goodman

Effectively Utilizing Mobile Technologies:
Not surprising: Nearly half of all 18-29 year-olds who access the Internet on their phones, do the majority of their online browsing on their mobile device. Surprising: Many companies utilize text messaging as a successful medium for recruitment. We have a list of avenues in which we intend to reach out to our candidates, but text messaging hasn’t even been on our radar. The numbers don’t lie, though. The case studies presented in this workshop provided insight to several successful campaigns. The biggest take-a-way for me: mobile is where the action is! If you don’t have your hat in the ring, you are missing out on quality candidates. When communicating with candidates through mobile technologies, it’s essential that you are concise, relevant, and professional. We are all aware that we have a very short period of time to make an impression on our candidates… and mobile technology shortens that timeframe even further. Now, time to strategize and get a plan in place.
*Presenters: Lindsay Stanton, Job Search Television Network and Jay Floersch, PeopleScout Inc.

Overall… a very impressive Day 1!