NACE15 Revisited: Putting Learning Into Action

joe hayesJoe Hayes, Assistant Director, Employer Relations & Internships, University of Nebraska at Omaha
Twitter: @_JosephHayes
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/josephhayes1

You know a conference was beneficial when your return flight home is delayed several hours and a 4 a.m. arrival doesn’t feel that bad. Perhaps the long delay was a needed blessing in that it forced reflection on all things learned at NACE15. I’d almost go as far to say “thank you” unidentified airline for the delay, but those would be words uttered by no one ever.

The 2015 NACE Conference provided many nuggets of information that I hope (and some I have already begun) to implement into our work—ultimately benefiting the student-employer relationship.

COPE: Create Once, Publish Everywhere
First, Lindsey Pollak’s keynote was inspiring. There could honestly be an entire blog on this alone. From the Millennial shift from traditional employment to “tours of duty,” and the basic skills that need to be taught (the handshake, how to answer a phone, and interesting items such as “how to fail” and “how to resign.”)—Ms. Pollak was the right speaker at the right time to kick off the first full day at NACE.

A quick takeaway and action item from Ms. Pollak’s talk centered on how to connect with the largest work force in America—Millennials. Here, Ms. Pollak described COPE, “create one, publish everywhere.” This mantra illustrates the importance of connecting with students in a manner that best resonates with them—which to Millennials, can be everything and anything. For example, in career services we often create professional development trainings for students. Following the COPE method, we will continue to host training events, but will look to make it more lasting. This may include not only having the event, but live tweeting from it, streaming the event live, recording and re-using it on our website, pushing it out via audio recording, publishing the text translation, featuring it in a future newsletter, and so forth. In other words, use technology to the fullest to target those that may prefer to get their information in various formats.

Customization
In addition to COPE, and in similar fashion, customization toward the user/student was a central theme of NACE15. In other words, asking your target audience for feedback and customizing it toward them can and will be critical for success.

On my first day back from NACE, our office, the Academic and Career Development Center, was looking to further increase student usage of our office-run job and internship listing system—UNO Career Connect. One suggestion was whether our current branding was customized in messaging to students. We examined the listing system tag line—“UNO Career Connect: Connecting UNO to Career Opportunities” versus a shortened alternative title.

Following the theme of customization, we ran short focus groups around campus—asking students, faculty and staff what best resonated with them. To our surprise, nearly 80 percent of faculty and staff supported the former and nearly 80 percent of students (the intended audience) supported the latter—with feedback from students stating, “Say what it is,” and “Less is more.” This complete opposite feedback is making us rethink how we target to and get buy-in from students, and ensure our services are customized.

NACE15 left a positive impression and provided many lasting takeaways that can easily and effectively be implemented in our daily work. Now if only NACE could help solve airline delays!

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