That’s Why I Gave my 4-Year-Old Son an Internship

by Joe Hayes

If you’re a parent you know summer is a double-edge sword. On the bright side, there are endless summer activities to keep occupied: from attending festivals, participating in outdoor sports and movies, or simply hanging at the pool. But there’s also the dark side. School’s out, the kids are home all day and longer periods of daylight means later and longer bedtime routines. This disruption to routine can be tiresome and at minimum takes adjustment.

That’s why I gave my 4-year-old son an internship. Paid, I might add.

While admittedly my reasons for considering an internship were slightly selfish (OK, entirely), research shows that assuming the timing and quality of experiences are age appropriate, early is better when it comes to experiences. The earliness trend has been applied in different areas from college football coaches that are offering athletic scholarships to students in junior high to corporate recruiters that are offering college students full-time positions a couple of years in advance. So developing an age appropriate internship for my 4-year-old is not that far-fetched.

In defining this summer internship, I looked at the National Association of Colleges and Employers‘ (NACE) seven point test to make sure his internship was legit and educational.

 

  1. The experience must be an extension of the classroom: a learning experience that provides for applying the knowledge gained in the classroom. It must not be simply to advance the operations of the employer or be the work that a regular employee would routinely perform. Off to a good start. My son just graduated from Pre-K. He learned kindness, numbers, the alphabet, music, art, and more. His summer internship will include many, if not all of these lessons from the past year. The work he will be contributing to the organization’s mission will be helpful, but at the same time will require supervision and won’t displace any workers. (Status: Check)
  2. The skills or knowledge learned must be transferable to other employment settings. I really can’t think of any employment setting that wouldn’t benefit from kind employees and knowledge of numbers. On top of this, exposure and an overall well-roundedness to the arts only creates a more diversified employee and thus a stronger work force. (Status: Check)
  3. The experience has a defined beginning and end, and a job description with desired qualifications. See position description below. (Status: Check)
  4. There are clearly defined learning objectives/goals related to the professional goals of the student’s academic coursework. See position description below. (Status: Check)
  5. There is supervision by a professional with expertise and educational and/or professional background in the field of the experience. My wife and I are honored and excited to serve as internship supervisors. We were once in his shoes and are happy to provide our expertise in household duties and more so – applying critical Pre-K skills to a real world setting. We recognize that this internship will test the intern in new ways and may result in some setbacks along the way. And this leads directly to number 6: (Status: Check)
  6. There is routine feedback by the experienced supervisor.  As supervisors, we know feedback (positive and constructive) is critical to learning. For instance, it would be a disservice to let the intern apply too much water to plants and unknowingly over-water and kill them. Knowing the research on millennials and the need for feedback, we can only guess that this generation will have somewhat similar traits. While some companies incorporate once-a-year reviews (minimum) or daily “stand-ups,” we agreed to nightly story-time debriefs. We discuss what made the intern happy, what made the intern sad, and what the intern is looking forward to tomorrow. (Status: Check)
  7. There are resources, equipment, and facilities provided by the host employer that support learning objectives/goals. We are committed to making his internship experience top notch. We’ve made investments in the proper tools and equipment that will assist in his objectives such as a watering hose, crayons, sidewalk chalk, etc. In order for our internship to attract quality candidates, we’ve provided free housing, transportation, and a daily meal plan with plenty of snacks. We recognize that company culture is important and have made great efforts to demonstrate this through a casual dress environment (perhaps too casual), ice cream socials, annual day at the ballpark, and a work-from-home policy. Lastly, we recognize that there are other professionals that the intern can learn from so we plan on having aunts, uncles, and grandparents share their wisdom in a soon-to-be-named leadership development series. (Status: Check) 

joe hayes intern description

Disclaimer: Perhaps it goes without noting, but if it wasn’t already clear this light-hearted story was developed to shed light on the requirements of an internship and to bring attention to developing a structured internship with built in learning objectives. My son does not have an internship. He’s 4.

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

Last Minute Tips for #NACE17 Attendees

Whether you’re new to NACE’s annual conference or this is your 10th time attending, here are things that will make this hectic and fun week easier.

Download the free app and schedule your time. Set up your conference itinerary and use your smartphone or tablet to be your daily guide. The free conference app, sponsored by Altria, offers information on all sessions, plus it links you to NACE’s social media so you can get updates and reminders for conference activities. You’ll find a map of NACE’s space in the Paris Las Vegas and Bally’s Las Vegas to help you find session rooms. To download this app, go to your device’s app store and search for NACE17. Need a little help using the app? Come to a free demonstration, 3 – 4 p.m. Tuesday, June 6, at NACE Connect in Paris Las Vegas’ Continental Ballroom.

Join your colleagues on social media. Tweet, Instagram, Facebook…share your social media ribbonconference experiences with fellow attendees and with those who couldn’t attend this year. Use hashtags: #NACE17 and #NACEOrg. Look for special Facebook Live sessions this year and add your comments/questions to the feed.

Here’s the weather forecast. The average temperatures in Las Vegas in early June are typically in the mid- to upper-90s during the day and lower 70s at night. (However, bring a light jacket or sweater: session rooms may be chilly.)

Pack your business casual clothing. Business casual is the recommended dress for the event. For women, that means slacks, khakis, or capris, blouses, polo shirts, dresses. Take a look at Pinterest for ideas. For men, khakis, dress pants, dress shirts, polos. Pinterest offers some ideas. Okay, but not necessary: suits. Avoid t-shirts, jean shorts, athletic wear.

Choose your shoes for comfort. Comfortable shoes are key. Hitting the site visits, the expo hall, and concurrent sessions means the potential for a lot of wear and tear on your feet.

Connect with your colleagues (and more) in the NACE Connect area! When you’re not in a concurrent session or listening to a keynote, drop into the NACE Connect area in the expo hall to network with colleagues or recharge your mobile devices. Here are some things you’ll find there:

  • Recharging Lounge
  • TECHBar
  • Mobile App Demo (3-4 p.m. Tuesday, June 6)
  • NACE17 Solution Labs
  • Dinner Sign Ups
  • SMARTtalks

First time at the conference? Don’t miss the first-timers session sponsored by Enterprise. Spend an hour networking over breakfast with other first timers. Get tips from attendees who have navigated the conference before on how to make the most of your conference experience.

Join the Totally ‘80s Dance Party! Pull out your parachute pants. Pump up your jacket with giant shoulder pads. Think big color. Feathered hair. Fingerless gloves. Over-sized tops. Stretchy-stirrup pants. Be totally tubular…at the party, Thursday, June 8, from 9 – 11 p.m., sponsored by Symplicity.

Identify attendees by their badges. Career services professionals wear blue badges; university relations and recruiters, red; business affiliates, purple; expo hall representatives, green, and NACE staff, black.

If the shirt is fuchsia or black, it must be Tuesday. Questions? Need help? NACE staff is easily identifiable by the color of their shirts.

  • Wednesday: Red
  • Thursday: Lime green
  • Friday: Turquois

Update Profile RibbonEveryone wants a ribbon? Of course they do! We have the usual ribbons for folks whocommunity ribbon are speaking, exhibiting, and sponsoring. We’re also offering ribbons to alumni of professional workshops (MLI, RLI) and social media participants (follow me and bloggers). If you’ve updated your profile, we have a special ribbon for you. New this year: NACE Community Member ribbons. Old this year: A wide variety of fun, like Have a NACE Day and NACE Nerd.

And if you can’t attend #NACE17—or you’d like to share some sessions with staff back in the office, NACE will Facebook Live the following sessions (all PDT time):

Tuesday, June 6
1:30 p.m. NACE17 Innovation Challenge

Wednesday, June 7
10:45 a.m. First-Destinations Survey: Class of 2016 Outcomes and Protocol Update
1:30 p.m. Class of 2016: Career Ready or Not?
2:45 p.m. Bridging the Gap With Disability and Career Services to Creative Innovative Strategies //SMARTtalk//
3:15 p.m. Legislative Update for the Field
4:30 p.m. Transforming the Trajectory: African American Males Navigating Career Services //Campfire Conversation//

Thursday, June 8
1:30 p.m. Career Consequences of Unpaid Internships
3 p.m. The NACE Principles and Ethical Practice

Registration is open. Pick up your registration packet. Tuesday, June 6, registration is open from noon until 8:30 p.m.; and 7:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday. An information desk will be open from 7 a.m. to noon on Friday.

Don’t leave your room without these things: Room key, electronic device with the NACE17 app and your schedule loaded, and conference badge (you can’t get into any sessions or events without it). Consider carrying a light sweater. Session rooms may be chilly.Have a great conference!

And, if you’re interested in joining the NACE blog team…ask for Claudia Allen at the registration desk!

 

 

More People First Timers Should Meet at #NACE17

by David Ong

The best way to meet NACE leaders is to attend the NACE First-Timers Breakfast on Wednesday morning at 7:30. In addition to the 10 people you should meet mentioned in  yesterday’s blog, here are more people you should meet at #NACE17.

Trudy Steinfeld: Many of us who have known Trudy over the years describe her as “a force of nature.. She’s best known as the Executive Director of the Wasserman Center for Career Services at New York University and for writing her “must-read” blog in Forbes magazine. Add to that her recent appointment to the 2017-18 NACE Board of Directors and her role as co-editor of Leadership in Career Services: Voices from the Field and Winning the War for College Talent and you have one committed lady! When you meet her, be sure to buy her a martini with blue cheese-stuffed olives, then ask her about her past NACE work in developing professional development activities for our members.

Stephanie Pallante: If you’re a conference first timer, be on the lookout for Stephanie Pallante, who heads up campus recruiting at Aramark and is currently serving as the Conference Co-Chair. Stephanie is a ball of energy, and she has channeled that energy in serving on both the Board of Directors from 2014-2016 and has also chaired several committees. She’d be the first to tell any conference newcomer to attend either the employer or college breakfasts on Thursday morning, especially if you’re looking to network with professionals experiencing the same day-to-day dilemmas you face!

Kathy SimsKathy Sims: I was incredibly fortunate to meet this remarkable woman during my first NACE conference in 2001 (also in Vegas!), when she was serving her term as NACE president (while also managing the career center at UCLA). Since then, this member of the NACE Academy of Fellows spent several years leading efforts related to NACE’s ongoing advocacy strategies. In the meantime, she has begun a new career with GiftedHire, one of the vendors in the NACE Exhibitor Hall. Be sure to visit Kathy and the other vendors in the Exhibitor Hall to get the latest scoop on the products and services which are helping to transform our field!

Vanessa Strauss: Speaking of that same 2001 annual conference in Vegas….I had the privilege of getting to know former NACE president Vanessa Strauss from the FDIC at that same event, and boy, am I glad I did! You’d be hard pressed to find anyone within our organization who promotes NACE more than Vanessa! Her NACE resume is endless, and she’d be the first person to urge any newcomer to volunteer for NACE duty. She walks to the walk and talks the talk as well. When you check in at the registration area, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll be greeted by Vanessa, who year after year volunteers her time to assist in the member check-in process. Be on the lookout for her (and tell her I sent you!).

Norma Guerra Gaier: As the current Director of the Career Center at Texas State University, Norma already has a full plate; Her plate is about to get a whole lot fuller this summer when she moves into the role of NACE President-Elect for 2017-2018. Norma’s passion for NACE runs deep (she even worked for the enterprise early in her career….ask her to tell you some stories about it!). More recently, her work with NACE has focused on causes such as the NACE Principles for Professional Practice and advocacy efforts. Be sure to introduce yourself to Norma, and I am sure she’ll give you plenty of reasons as to why you should get more involved with this great organization!

(Editor’s note:) And, make time to meet David Ong. He’s outgoing and full of great ideas.

ongDavid Ong, Director, Corporate Recruiting, Maximus, Inc.
Twitter: @dtong2565
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/pub/dave-ong/0/604/513

David Ong currently oversees corporate and college recruiting activities at MAXIMUS Inc. in Reston, VA. Prior to joining MAXIMUS in 2004, David managed college recruiting programs at Booz Allen Hamilton, Citigroup Corporate and Investment Bank, and Capital One. He served on the NACE Board of Directors from 2011-2015. He is a proud graduate of the University of Richmond, where he majored in business.

10 People to Meet at #NACE17

by Marc Goldman

Las Vegas, baby! My first NACE conference back in 2001 was held in Vegas, and I never tire of returning there—that other city that never sleeps. Waking up in the morning to see people first heading toward their rooms. Surveying the blackjack tables to find NACE Past-President Dan Black holding court and making everyone laugh. Breathing in the scientifically designed air and squinting through the dusk- or dawn-like lighting of the Paris hotel to keep you wide awake and slightly off your game no matter what time of day or evening it might be. And all of this can be yours if the price is right! No, wait, that’s an entirely different form of gambling. All of this can be yours if you attend the NACE 2017 conference from June 6-9!

I was asked to resurrect my traditional (if twice counts these days) blog post about who to meet at the NACE conference. And I am happy to oblige. Having been to so many of these gatherings, I forget what it is like to be a first-time attendee or know very few people in the massiveness of the crowd. I mean 2,000 or so career services and campus relations professionals running roughshod to get that perfect seat at a keynote or to be first in line at the buffet table or beverage outpost can be daunting. Where do you begin? If you are a conference first-timer, why not say hi to two awesome and extremely enthusiastic individuals who are leading the conference first-timers team, Christine Dito of UC – Davis and Lindsay Moran of Liberty Mutual Insurance.   They will be in Vegas to welcome you and lead a fun breakfast session on Wednesday morning just for first-timers. But don’t feel like you will be on your own there. It is likely the largest event at the conference other than keynotes or celebrations. And Chris and Lindsay have assembled their own team of NACE rock stars to help them with this great program. Somehow, even I got on this committee! Well, I do a mean bit of karaoke, but the videos have not been put on You Tube just yet.

Looking to make a connection from the west coast? Do your best to meet up with Amy Adams from Pepperdine or Vicki Klopsch from Scripps. Amy just served as co-chair with Melissa Gervase of Turner Construction for the Leadership Advancement Program, and Vicki was a member of the 2017 Conference Program Committee with me. This soft spoken (ha!) New Yorker always enjoys conference time with these two California colleagues. They both have such dedication to their students and their institutions, and they provide interesting views on our field as well.

Interested in learning more about NACE leadership? Make Kathleen Powellsure to say hi to outgoing NACE President Kathleen Powell from William and Mary and incoming NACE President Glen Fowler from the California State Auditor’s office. They are always a joy to speak with and incredibly encouraging and supportive colleagues to have in your corner. Through them, you can gain insights into the history and inner workings of NACE as well as one career services and one employer perspective on our field. That is if you get to chat with both of them while at the conference. Challenge accepted?!

Many of you know that Marilyn Mackes is our stalwart and steadfast NACE Executive Director, but did you know that NACE now has an Assistant Executive Director, Matthew Brink, who oversees the many amazing programs and services offered by our professional association? Matthew comes from an extensive background in career services and is quite the conference raconteur. Always looking his dapper best, Matthew is someone to get to know if you have the chance to cross paths with him in the Paris or on the Strip!

And as always, feel free to say hi to me. How else will I know that someone has actually checked out this blog post? Throw me a bone here. Or better yet, toss me a $100 chip, so I can play blackjack with Dan! See you in June, and follow me at the conference for my anecdotes and observations. I’m @MarcGoldmanNYC.

Marc Goldman, Executive Director, Career Center, Yeshiva UniversityMarc Goldman, Executive Director, Career Center, Yeshiva University
Twitter: @MarcGoldmanNYC
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/marcjgoldman

#NACE17: “Start Me Up”

by Kathleen Powell

“Oh Sweet Child of Mine,” I want you to “Walk this Way” to the NACE17 Conference & Expo!

“Don’t Stop Believing,” the conference is around the corner and if you’re new to the profession or your first time at the conference, I’ll see you in Vegas!  Ok, even if you’ve been to several conferences, I’m looking forward to seeing you!  “Ain’t Nobody” more excited to see you than me!

So, we’ve all heard, “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.” “Our Lips Are Sealed.”  You’ll make new connections, or rekindle old ones, attend sessions, connect during breaks and go “Round and Round” with colleagues as we are “Burning Down the House,” ok? (Not really!)

The NACE17 conference will present amazing opportunities.  For some, there may be nervous jitters about what to expect, who will I know, what should I wear, and so forth.  Fear not!  I’m here to assist,  “Time After Time.”

NACE17 will give you plenty of opportunities to network and network you should.  There are no hidden tips or tricks to networking.  “You Got It (The Right Stuff)” and you’re in good company, we all have interests, backgrounds and knowledge to share and striking up a conversation at the conference will come easily.  New faces, fresh ideas, and plenty of time to expand your professional network. “One Things Leads to Another!”

The conference app is your friend!  Use it, “All Night Long.”  Be strategic.  Pick your sessions and go early, the rooms do fill up quickly, but if you can’t get into a presentation, the handouts and/or PowerPoints are in the app and available at MyNACE after the conference.  And, I’d suggest a backup session as an alternate.  There are more than 80 sessions to choose from throughout the conference and I have no doubt you’ll land on sessions of your choice!

You’ll be “Hungry Like the Wolf”, so take advantage of all the breaks and provided meals in the Exhibit Hall.  You’ll be pleasantly surprised by all the excitement, products, vendors, and ways to connect.  “Jump” on the site visits and the Innovation Challenge.  “How Will I Know,” you ask, if  you are participating in site visits and the Innovation Challenge?  “Bust a Move” and go to NACEweb.org and either register or check MyNACE.

With “Every Breath You Take”, don’t be “Too Shy”, because if you’ve not figured it out by now, the 80s are coming to NACE17!  “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” and you’ll be going “Round and Round,” even a “Total Eclipse of the Heart,” will make you think you “Just Can’t Get Enough.” That’s right, you read it here first, Thursday night you’ll be saying, “I Love Rock N’ Roll.”  You’ll be “Walking on Sunshine” after driving your “Little Red Corvette.”  So final words, “Everybody Have Fun Tonight,” safe travels to NACE17 because it’s “My Perogative.”

Kathleen PowellKathleen Powell, president of the National Association of Colleges and Employers, will be attending #NACE17 in Las Vegas. Look for her…and say hello…”That’s What Friends Are For”!

The Sum of Our Experiences: The Value of Hiring Military Spouses

by Andrea M. Wynne

Whenever most people see someone in uniform with their families or find out that a friend or colleague is married to a service member, the common response is: “Thank you for your service or please thank your spouse.” However, when reviewing resumes and screening for talent, gratitude may not be what comes to mind for many employers. Although there are more partnerships today to assist with this need and a greater understanding of the military lifestyle, there is still a significant amount of work to be done.

As a person who has been a military spouse for more than 20 years, I have personally felt the angst and anxiety of applying for jobs in fear of being dismissed because of frequent moves. The locations for each job, the organizations in which we volunteer and even the universities we attend can often be a dead giveaway about why there are gaps in employment and job changes. Although hiring managers should screen resumes objectively, some will see gaps and moves in a negative way. It is my opinion, that these assumptions unfairly label military spouses and do not take into account that anyone can move at any time and employee loyalty is not what it used to be. In fact, according to research by LinkedIn.com, the Millennial Generation will move jobs up to four times within their first decade out of college. Therefore, even if an employee has no affiliation with the military, they may leave an organization after a very short time.

Additionally, I have had colleagues who are military spouses say that they were passed over for promotions and told that they could not take advantage of professional development courses because employers were more focused on their marital status than on their talents and strengths. Yes, there are laws against blatant discrimination, but what about the conversations and biases that are unseen or are only spoken about behind closed doors? As with most things, the only way to combat such biases is to raise awareness and stereotypes that create the stigma.

In addition to a degree (I have a B.A. in human resources and an M.A. in education), military spouses bring valuable additional skills and experience to an employer’s work force. Below are three reasons why military spouses add value to an organization whether they are employees for two years or 20:

  1. Life Experiences: When a person has traveled domestically or internationally, it often means they have varied experiences that help them connect to others. They have, most likely, met different and diverse people, learned new cultures, and maybe even new languages. If customer service or connection in any form is required in a position, imagine the value that someone who has seen three countries and lived in four states can add.
  2. Flexibility: Remember the three countries and four states? Well, most military families also have to jump through many hoops to get things done for every single move. Furthermore, there is often a great deal of uncertainty surrounding deployments, temporary duty, and even day-to-day schedules of their loved ones. After a lifetime of “hurry up and wait,” military spouses grow to be quite the flexible and understanding group.
  3. Strategic Thinkers: Moving an entire household, finding new schools, doctors, vets, and hairdressers every few years in new states and countries can be quite the challenging task. Military spouses have to draw on their strategic thinking skills to figure out how to keep the family going and how to create a new home in a place they have never been. After a few moves, they begin to find patterns and gaps not only in the services they seek out, but in organizations in which they work. A person who has diversity of thought could be just the innovator a company needs to help them grow and excel.

The overarching message here is not to say that military spouses are better or more skilled than anyone else or that anyone owes us a job. The key take away is that when trying to find that perfect cultural fit or fresh face to help an organization with its mission, the practice of automatically assuming that being married to the military means money lost, is an opportunity lost.

Andrea WynnAndrea M. Wynne, Career Development Specialist and Global Career Development Facilitator, The University of Washington – Tacoma
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/andreawynnemaed/

 

 

Making Technology Decisions

by Kelli Smith

I love my job. I mean, I genuinely love my job. Knowing our area is making a positive impact on our students every single day is incredibly rewarding. I especially love the constant change we have in our department and the significant growth we have had in our programs and staff. I see it as a challenge and relish in it.

But it is no secret to my staff and close colleagues that my least favorite part of being a director is vendor solicitations. There are emails from vendors every single day. A mentor and former director of mine, Dr. Larry Routh, once said that he thought an essential skill needed for directors in the future is vendor management. He was correct; it is an important part of the job. Some really enjoy this part of our work, and there is no shortage of very interesting products to research and keep a person busy. It is just that I have a zillion other things competing for my attention.

We all need to be astute at deciding on new products and technologies. For me, the following are some of the questions I ask myself when deciding upon new products:

  1. Is this a wise use of budget dollars and really needed? It is important to consider departmental goals and align spending accordingly. Additionally, I have a particular sense of fiduciary responsibility working for a public institution. While none of my operating budget is from state dollars, we do get some student fee money and salaries are supported through the state. Always in the back of my mind is whether my budget choices and use of staff time are ones that stakeholders would generally support. I also look at the ROI. For example, for one product that we are considering to help offload the number of resumes we review in person, I calculated the cost for paying peer assistants (students) to the quoted product cost for the same amount of work. It was roughly the same, if not less expensive to students giving individualized assistance, plus we know the value of providing students with meaningful experience is great. The return on investment for the new product was weak in comparison, but gives me a strong negotiating point with the vendor.
  2. What FTE support will be needed to implement and manage it? While not operating budget dollars, I tend to automatically calculate the FTE time required to manage a new offering. Staff time is precious and scarce. Spending time on implementing a new technology, as well as ongoing staff training and support, takes away from a different priority. So the time it will take for staff and how it fits into our strategic plan is something I tend to automatically weigh early.
  3. Have we sought input from our students, employers, and campus partners, and does it meet our needs? While I truly love the dialogue around disruption and change in our field, my own approach to big technical changes considers many factors, including thoughtful consideration of stakeholders and whether the product meets the needs of campus. We recently explored a new platform for our job and internship posting system. A major consideration is that we manage one of the largest academic internship programs out of a career center in the country, and the program manager created a paperless system for it last year. Along with that program and some other factors, we decided at the time the vendor was not quite ready for us. We also had to consider stakeholders beyond our own program needs. Student input is a major factor for us. It is not the only one but, for us, it weighs a bit more heavily than others. We are fortunate to have a team of 50 student staff that help give us input and we rely upon it pretty heavily for new products. When a new technology also involves our employers, we naturally seek their input, too. And like so many institutions, we have taken the campus-wide approach that “career services is everyone’s business”; as a result, some of our technologies for which we are primary managers have become intertwined with other offices and career centers on campus. We have made collaboration a top priority, so seeking and respecting their input on new technology is also key, now more than ever.
  4. Does this duplicate technology we already have, and if so, is it better? We know we can be really good at adding new tools, especially if it is a hot new product offering. It is important to do an environmental scan of both one’s office and other offerings on campus. For instance, we recently explored software to better connect our students with alumni for mentoring. A different office on campus serving our largest college (liberal arts) already had a contract with a vendor, but we were interested in a newer one that we thought could be better and much less costly. We worked with that office to explore the new product with us, and they fortunately agreed it was a better option for all and that we would eventually be the primary administrator (and they would manage a module just for their college) for the product since we serve all students on campus. In addition to saving money for the campus, our relationship with that office was strengthened.
  5. Is this the right timing? When hired nearly three years ago, I was charged with completely reinventing how we served students, our campus reputation, partnerships, and significantly strengthen our employer services. While I am very fortunate to have an incredibly dedicated and hard-working staff and campus leadership that helped in our successful transformation, leading a culture change takes time. There is a new vendor on the market with great product but I am so glad we did not choose to implement a couple years ago. This is because while that business has been crazy successful, I know several early adopter directors shared they were on the phone with the vendor almost daily with issues in that company’s first year. Back then, I did not have that time while trying to build an office and campus culture. We had also recently switched to a new system that we branded and were so successful in implementing that our b-school career office finally decided to forgo a separate portal and instead let us manage the platform, making it much easier for both our students and employers. So to switch again so quickly would not have been a wise move on our part. We are now in a significantly better place and were much better positioned to make a change.
  6. What is the business model and approach of the vendor? The business model is an important consideration for me. This may be a hangover from surviving the dot-era which many of us recall. Companies with visions that seem to be in it for the long haul get bonus points. Naturally we need to do all we can to also ensure the use of student data is adhering to all applicable laws. Another thing that I have learned in the last year is how much I value the transparency of businesses. There are some well-known vendors on the market that do not have a standard pricing model and are, in part, pricing their product according to (what they think) is the name recognition of the career center’s institution. I do not blame career centers that have benefitted from such a pricing model in the least; I would fully take advantage myself. But I find it surprising that vendors do not realize we are a highly connected field and talk about what we are each paying for contracts. When I realize that a vendor is not being upfront or is quoting us a significantly higher price than my friends at other institutions – whether they have better name recognition or not, larger or smaller, or of the same or differing rankings – it is does sit well. For example, a peer here in New York was recently quoted a price of $25,000 for a product we are really wanting to implement. In my view it could be a game changer. But I also know a colleague at a well-known, larger, and fairly elite public school is paying exactly half of that cost for the same product. It ends up feeling as some centers are subsidizing what other career centers (often with already healthy budgets) are being asked to pay. So while not always a primary factor, transparency is one I consider. Lastly, with regard to approach, customer service is a critical consideration. We recently made a major decision this month and this was a factor that became a tipping point. Remember the concern we had about how our academic internship program would be managed? It was addressed by the vendor without us even being a committed client. The vendor we are moving to responded the same day in multiple instances when we had questions of any kind, and made improvements to their products based on our input with what felt like a quick turnaround.
  7. What is the “why”? I am a fan of Simon Sinek’s book, Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action (2011). If you have not read it or watched his Ted Talk, you may want to. It resonates with me when I am needing to gain support for new initiatives with others across campus. But I also know it is important to consider the “why” for a new technology. My hope is that when making such choice we have addressed the considerations mentioned earlier, such as whether it fits with our strategic plan, and not that we are merely trying to be seen as a “disruptor” or other similar motivation. While I am one that thrives on change and being cutting edge for the sake of our students – and I most certainly do hope we are seen as a positive change agent by our campus – I am also at times just fine with others being the canary in the coal mine with new technologies. One can benefit from the lessons learned from others, and it thoughtful, careful decision-making does not need to be at the expense of being cutting edge.

Wise choices with technology can be game changers for how we serve students better and more efficiently. Our profession is full of some of the most innovative people I know and, while needing to remember my campus context may different, I regularly lean on many for input when making vendor decisions. What other factors do you consider when making such choices?

Kelli Smith Director of University Career Services at the Fleish

Kelli K. Smith, Director of University Career Services, Fleishman Center for Career and Professional Development, Binghamton University
Twitter: https://twitter.com/drkelliksmith
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More blogs by Kelli Smith