Career Services Programs that Engage Employers

Irene Hillman

Irene Hillman, Manager of Career Development, College of Business, Decosimo Success Center, The University of Tennessee Chattanooga
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/irenehillman

College career fairs can feel like a blur. Hundreds of college students—many of them prepared, but just as many of them unprepared— shuffle in and wander from table to table giving employers their pitch. Employers return the favor and point these young professionals to their websites to apply for positions. It’s a way to build visibility on both sides—company and candidate—but creating a meaningful connection simply isn’t in the cards.

So, how can colleges support the authentic engagement needed for their students to build relationships that will help them launch careers and their employers to gain in-depth access to a targeted and valuable candidate group? Here are some methods being used by the College of Business at University of Tennessee at Chattanooga to provide some inspiration.

Take the Freshmen Employer Tour

The Company Tour Program was developed specifically for entering freshmen to help tie them into both the UTC and business community very early on in their college careers. The college develops a schedule of bi-weekly tours for approximately 20 students (lasting one to two hours) into the facilities of the area’s top employers and these students gain access to companies to learn more about the area’s economy, explore potential employers, and network with Chattanooga’s business community in a very familiar and engaging fashion. This encourages students to think about how their degrees can be leveraged and their academic learning can be applied following graduation, motivating them to be better students who are engaged in networking within professional circles of the city.

Invite Employers to Lunch

Through Bridge Luncheons, the College of Business invites businesses seeking a way in which to connect with current students, pending graduates, or alumni to sponsor a business meal. This series brings business students and local or regional organizations together in an intimate setting over a served lunch where candid and interactive dialogue can occur. Typically this is used by companies as a recruiting venue for open positions. Such events are an effective means for companies to spend quality time with multiple candidates at once and serves, in many cases, as a first and simple step in the vetting process. Bridge Luncheons are by invitation only based on the criteria set by the sponsoring companies and students receive e-mails requesting an RSVP if they care to attend. It is also an ideal place to practice business meal etiquette.

Jennifer Johnson, UTC accounting student (Class of 2015), says “The luncheons have given me an opportunity to connect with local businesses and to build relationships with their owners and employees before joining the work force.”

She adds, “I am very thankful that UTC has provided me with the opportunity to participate in these luncheons because they have helped ease my apprehension interacting with potential employers and colleagues.”

As an additional perk beyond assisting students transition from students to professionals, colleges can consider such luncheons as a minor revenue stream since a reasonable flat rate can be charged to companies and remaining funds (after catering and room costs are covered) would be retained to support other career services activities and events.

Pair Students With Professionals

The Business Mentor Program is available to sophomore, junior, senior, and graduate students. Experienced professionals support students who are paired in a mentoring relationship based on common professional interests in order to guide students toward best practices for career success. Valued employers are encouraged to nominate a seasoned professional to the Business Mentor Program. The program provides a great opportunity for professionals to counsel and influence the next generation of business leaders and increase the work force readiness of future recruits. Undergraduates may even engage in the program for academic credit (one credit). The course integrates academic learning with business world application and experiences. Students meet in class for one month to prepare for the mentoring relationship and then pair with mentors for the remaining weeks of the semester.

Use Feedback From the Professionals

The semiannual Resume Week and Mock Interview Week events are another way to help recruiters and students engage in effective networking and develop significant dialogue. During Resume Week, the college seeks out a few dozen professionals (hiring managers or recruiters) whose careers align with the College of Business academic programs and invites them to participate in the event. Students visit the centrally located student lounge with their resumes to give managers and recruiters from participating companies a chance provide their professional opinions through a 15-minute resume review while networking one-on-one with these high-impact business people.

Bios of the volunteers are provided to students so they can plan who they want to meet. We encourage students to dress professionally and bring a business card to make a great first impression on our visitors.

Abdul Hanan Sheikh, UTC human resource management student (Class of 2015),  summarizes the impact that the Resume Review event has had on his career launch: “By attending this event, I received remarkable feedback, which helped me make adjustments to my resume. This event helped me get more engaged in networking effectively. It was a great opportunity for me to make connections with business professionals from around Chattanooga. Furthermore, I believe these events helped me land my first internship last fall and then my summer internship as well, and those positions gave me the experience I needed in HR to feel confident about finding a great job after graduation. So now I have a strong resume and solid experience.”

A month following Resume Week, the college holds a similarly arranged series of events for Mock Interview Week. Not only do students walk away with invaluable advice on developing a robust resume and interviewing successfully, but they get a chance to ask questions about launching their careers to people with realistic answers. And the hope is, as a result, a connection is made and networking flourishes between the student and the professionals with whom they have met.

Engaging with employers need not be an awkward or hurried venture that happens once a semester. When students are provided multiple opportunities for directed networking, relationships can unfold in an enriching manner for our students and our employers!

 

 

The Differences Between Working in Higher Education and Corporate America

kelly d. scottKelly Scott, Campus Recruiter at Liberty Mutual Insurance
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kellykonevichscott

I never thought I would do anything other than work in higher education. With a background in educational counseling psychology and a job as a career counselor and assistant director within a career center at a Boston-area university, I had no need to look for a life outside the ivy-covered walls. But then an intriguing opportunity presented itself and I made the leap to corporate America. And I now find myself as a de facto spokesperson for corporate America among my higher education friends and colleagues. The information that most piques their interest is: “What are the differences between working there and here?” And I always tell them, while there are differences, the two worlds aren’t as far apart as you might think.

It’s a different kind of fast paced.

I thought there was only one kind of fast paced, but I was wrong. As an assistant director at a career center, I had a lot to do. There were student appointments, large- and small-scale events to plan and facilitate, workshops, class presentations, semester planning, and ad hoc projects. As a recruiter, it is also fast paced with numerous projects to complete, yearly planning, interviews, and regular meetings with various stakeholders across the organization.

So, what’s the difference then? The difference are the deadlines. I can’t speak for all universities because I’m drawing from personal experience, but overall, I had a lot of autonomy when it came to deadlines. “When do you think you could have that done?” was a question I was frequently fielding as a career counselor. Additionally, it was acceptable to spend a semester or two hammering out a new program or idea and generally the only people you were answering to were those in your department and the students.

Deadlines in corporate America are much less fluid. Many of the decisions and projects that I’m working on directly affect a team in a completely different department or business unit. As a result, deadlines are determined by a group and driven by quarterly business needs and recruiting cycle timelines. This creates a different sense of urgency than what I experienced in the higher education sector. Not better or worse, just different.

The private sector is more formal.

This shouldn’t be a shocker: it’s more formal. Working with college students makes for a much more casual environment than working with business leaders in a Fortune 100 company. The casual nature lends itself to forming deep personal connections with co-workers and, in my opinion, is one of its most appealing attributes of working in at a college or university. It wasn’t uncommon to share personal successes and even heartaches and frustrations with your direct co-workers or even your supervisor. Mind you, you’ve got a bunch of counselors sharing feelings, so it’s probably not that unusual, but when you’re in the mix of it, you don’t realize what was going on until you leave.

There’s not so much sharing in the corporate world. While there is a huge emphasis on respect, integrity and development—and my colleagues are incredibly supportive and caring—the mushy-gushy feeling of my last department is gone. I have a few co-workers that I am thankful to have developed very close friendships with over the last year, but corporate culture doesn’t support oversharing the way education does. Again, neither one is better or worse than the other, but there are recognizable differences.

People move around a lot more in corporate.

My personal experience in higher education is that a lot of people stay put or climb the ladder within their particular function or department. My former boss had been at the university for more than 15 years—almost entirely as a career counselor with notable promotions within her department. Her boss was there just as long and on the same path. Many of my co-workers were self-proclaimed “lifers” and stayed within the academic counseling field in some capacity. You get to know your co-workers really well and they have in-depth knowledge about the organization and the department history.

Corporate works a little differently. Since I started a year ago, multiple people have moved to completely different business units and taken on very different roles. My company puts an emphasis on professional development and growth, so it isn’t surprising that there is a lot of movement. In fact, people are encouraged to explore new opportunities that will challenge their professional growth within the organization. The drawback is that people move around a lot and it seems as though as soon as I think I am getting to know somebody, they get promoted or move on to another part of the organization. Definitely all great things, but it is a stark contrast to what I saw working in higher education.

Both the corporate and higher education cultures have their pros and cons and I think it really all comes down to what you value in work and in your career. There are certainly things I miss about higher education (holiday break) and other things I certainly do not miss (freshman orientation). That said, work values and skills change and develop as we grow professionally. Who knows what the next 10 years will bring, but for those of you wondering, corporate is not as scary as you think and has almost as much free food as you get in higher education.

NACE16: Finished, But Not Forgotten!

Kathleen Powell

Kathleen Powell, Assistant Vice President, Student Affairs, Executive Director of Career Development, Cohen Career Center, William & Mary
President-Elect, National Association of Colleges and Employers
Twitter: @powellka
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/kathleenipowell/

NACE16 is over, but you’re just getting started! Remember to rekindle your connections, unpack the sessions you attended and share those with your team, and decide what’s next for you as you engage with your professional association. Whether you were a first-timer to the NACE conference or a seasoned expo goer, I think you will agree that the four days in Chicago were robust, thought-provoking, and quite the return on investment. The keynote speakers hit it out of the park. The content of their information aligned well with the work we all do around career readiness, STEAM, generational issues, and life profit! I think we could all use a bit more life profit.

Whether you collected business cards or connected through MLI alumni meet ups, LAP events, or hospitality opportunities, or grabbed lunch or dinner with old or new colleagues, staying connected will keep the information and conversations shared fresh and top of mind. You might remember President Dawn Carter challenging us to meet 50 new people while at the conference? I would echo her challenge and ask you to consider continuing the charge and connecting with members of our association. Did one of the sessions you couldn’t attend spark your interest, but you couldn’t be two places at once? Not a problem, visit NACEWeb and click on the MyNACE tab. Choose “purchase history” and click on the “Actions” arrow next to the conference. You will get a drop-down menu of options, including “View Handouts.” Find the handout for that session you missed. If you have more questions, contact the presenter/presenters. Our association members are excited about their work and willing to share best practices!

Kathleen Powell sparkles at the closing of the conference.

Kathleen Powell sparkles at the closing of the conference.

NACE16 rolled out the First-Destination Survey Results for the Class of 2015 and it was robust! The Advocacy Committee presented the most up-to-date information on FLSA and OPT changes, and discussed the NACE Position Statement on Diversity and Anti-Discrimination. The Career Readiness Tiger Team shared updates on the Career Readiness Toolkits and there was lively discussion around how institutions and employers are aligning and mapping the seven core competencies around career readiness within their work.

The conference provided Techbyte opportunities, SMARTalks, Innovation Labs, and an Innovation Challenge! Members of our organization were recognized for their dedication to the profession and their outstanding work that moves the needle for our association.

There is no doubt NACE16 was a success. That success is shared as there is so much happening behind the scenes that makes the expo hum. It’s our members, who share their time and talent with all of us, that keeps us nimble, informed, and prepared for what’s next to come in our professional work.

Kathleen Powell sparkles at the closing of the conference.

Kathleen Powell, NACE President 2016-17, speaks to the audience at the NACE16 closing session.

So, you might be thinking, “This is all wonderful, but I didn’t attend the conference.” Don’t fret my pets—(one of my grandmother’s favorite expressions)—you can find the Advocacy issues on naceweb.org! Looking for career readiness information, naceweb.org, looking for first-destination information, naceweb.org. Curious about all our association has to offer….naceweb.org!

 

Yes, the conference has come and gone, but the opportunity to engage with other members is just a website away. Don’t miss the opportunity for outreach to your colleagues, learn first hand what is top of mind for the profession, and don’t think the conference is one and done! I encourage you to find those 50 new people and take advantage of Face2Face, roundtables, training opportunities, and webinars! The possibilities truly are ENDLESS!

Finding Your Professional Voice

Jade PerryJade Perry, Coordinator in the Office of Multicultural Student Success at DePaul University
Twitter: @SAJadePerry1
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/pub/jade-perry/21/667/b25/
Website: jadetperry.com

Many times, the word professionalism conjures thoughts and images of workplace dress, norms, and habits. However, there is yet another consideration for people  who speak more than one language and/or have mastered more than one dialect of English. This includes reconciling notions of professional voice.

Given the various dialects of English and the purpose of this article, I will refrain from calling some “proper English” and others “broken English.” These are value statements that detract from how the English language is actively shaped by both context and community. Yet since navigating language depends on context, we also must think about how students and staff negotiate language in the workplace and/or other professional settings (i.e. student meetings with university staff, interviews and interview prep, presentations, etc.)

For example, one afternoon I was chatting with a student in a dialect form that we both shared. (To be clear, this is not slang, catch-phrases, and/or lazy forms of standard English. By shared dialect, I mean “a systematic, rule-governed (form) of English” that we both could navigate well despite regional variations of said dialect; Jones, 2015, p. 404). We had a long conversation about what was happening on campus, goals for the next year, and more, until I was interrupted by a phone call from a colleague. This colleague happened to be able to navigate the dialect we were speaking. However, because it was a colleague, the conversation moved to include more formal / standard modes of English. The student commented, “You’ve got your work voice on!”

This does not just happen in our colleges and universities. We’ve seen this on the stage of arts and entertainment as well. If at all possible, briefly suspend your understandings of Kanye West’s canon of art and/or personality antics, to take a closer look at how he uses language. In recent interviews, Kanye slips into an extremely different mode of English than in his body of music. In the past, this has prompted strong reactions in news publications and on social media about “Who is Kanye trying to be? Why isn’t he using his real voice? Is this Kanye’s ‘interview voice?’ The choices that we make about language in the workplace often hold implications about who we are AND how we are perceived. It’s important to draw students into conversation about some of those things.

Communication and Career Capital

Dr. Tara Yosso (2005) poses an interesting question in her work, Whose Culture Has Capital? A Critical Race Discussion of Community Cultural Wealth. Quite often, when we think of capital, or various forms of wealth, we have limited views and understandings of what these forms of wealth can be. Many of our students hold a great deal of linguistic capital, defined by Yosso as the “intellectual and social skills attained through communication experiences in more than one language and/or style…Reading, literacy, oral histories, cuentos (stories), dichos (proverbs), sophisticated linguistic code switching (2005, p. 78).” This comes in very handy inside and outside of the workplace, as they navigate the different communities that they hold dear. So, when we talk about our modes of communication in interviews, in the workplace, and for career goals, there may also be opportunities to talk with and learn from our students about their understandings of professional voice.

Each day, our students navigate home dialects and standard English workplace/academic dialects. Thus, navigating multiple languages and dialects of language is a part of career capital: What are we saying? How are we saying it, depending on the context?

My “work voice”  and even the work voices of my colleagues can change, depending on how we need to function in that moment. At any given moment, you may hear standard American English (SAE), Spanish and dialects of Spanish, African-American English (AAE, which encompasses various sets of rules, depending on region), and more as we have conversations about student success, retention, persistence, and career capital. In a meeting with executive leadership, we might slip into more standardized dialects of English, due to context and shared understandings. For students finding their professional voice, it’s important to talk through these contexts, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be difficult to do so.

Learning from Creative Reflection

One of my favorite activities to take students through is an auto-ethnography of how they use language and how they are currently developing their understanding of professional voice. It’s easier to do this activity around written language, since they can access that from their phones and/or e-mail accounts. I ask students to observe and reflect on the language they use in the following contexts:

  • Contacting someone from your professional field (for students, this can be any current supervisors they have, mentors, etc.)
  • Contacting a family member
  • Contacting a peer or a close friend
    (you can also add other categories as appropriate)

It’s best if you can show them an example from your own life, to provide a template for the activity. Students may notice themselves code switching: slipping into and out of various languages, different forms of language, and even the use of imagery as communication, i.e. memes, emojis, emoticons. This prompts conversations about when they choose to use standardized/formal English dialects and when they choose to skillfully use various forms, as well. In many cases, this has also prompted conversations about authenticity in the workplace. (What makes someone authentic? How do we communicate in authentic ways, regardless of context?) This is also an activity that you can do with staff, especially if you are in the early stages of understanding. It’s important to stay away from value statements on how students are using language, but to help students to simply reflect on how they are already using language and how they might make sense of their own linguistic and career capital.

Further Reading:
Jones, Taylor (11/2015). “Toward a Description of African American Vernacular English Dialect Regions Using ‘Black Twitter.’ ” American speech (0003-1283),90 (4), p. 403.

Yosso, T.J. (2005). Whose culture has capital? A critical race theory discussion of community cultural wealth
Wofram. Sociolinguistics Definition from the Linguistic Society of America.

 

The Career Services Profession Is for Artists, Too

Tamara ClarksonTamara Clarkson, Career Services Consultant, Purdue University
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/tamaraclarkson
Twitter: @tamcatcam

In the four years I’ve worked in career services, I’ve consistently heard we must recruit staff with diverse backgrounds and from various fields. I wholeheartedly agree, but that might just be my degree in art talking.

I began college, like many first-generation students, surprised I’d even gotten in. Now I was expected to pick a lifelong career? My freshman year, I studied studio art at a private university, but soon realized I didn’t know what I wanted to do and transferred to a community college closer to home. After a year of community college, I transferred to Texas State University, and when they wouldn’t take “undecided” as my choice for a major—as a junior—I hastily stuck with art. With that decision, I had seemingly selected my path for life. I focused on art education,n but found that the teaching profession did not suit my INFJ-ness. Then I thought, maybe art history could be a fulfilling career.

How many students have you seen that make life-altering decisions like these almost at random? If you’re keeping track, that’s three majors in as many schools and I was completely lost. I didn’t know how to evaluate what I loved or what I needed to feel satisfied in a career.

So I saw a career counselor.

Just kidding!

Like many first generation college students, I had no idea how to navigate the college system or find the resources that could provide direction. When I finally reflected, as a super senior, on what would give me true fulfillment and satisfaction in the workplace, I realized for the first time that what I was skilled at (creating art) did not align with what would bring me professional satisfaction (helping others).

The best professional decision I ever made was applying to the counseling program at Texas State after receiving my B.A. in art history. Luckily, the faculty saw my unique background as an asset. The program made me become who I am today and I’m so thankful to the professors and colleagues who helped shape me. It was there that I learned I needed a career that involved counseling, but also offered opportunities to work on projects and meet deadlines. I conducted several informational interviews with Texas State’s career services professionals and realized career services could provide the balance I was looking for. Four years later, I am a career services consultant at Purdue’s Center for Career Opportunities (CCO). If getting an M.A. in counseling was the best professional decision of my life, joining the CCO is my second.

When I see students struggling to stick with a career path that they have the skillset but not the passion for, or they simply don’t know what they’d be interested in pursuing outside of college, I enjoy telling them that so many others have struggled with the same dilemma. We are all unique, and as we change, so may our professional goals and interests. They don’t have to choose what they want to do for the rest of their lives, all they have to figure out is their first few steps. And I can tell them that diverse interests and a curiosity that exceeds a narrow career path are assets, not liabilities, because I am a career services professional, but I wouldn’t be here if I was not also an artist.

On Being Lost

Melanie BufordMelanie Buford, Program Coordinator/Adjunct Instructor, Career Development Center, University of Cincinnati
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/mebuford/
Website: www.melaniebuford.org

A senior psychology major came into my office the other day. She dropped her bag, plopped down into a chair and said “I’m lost!”

With relatively little prompting, the story came out. She already knew her long term goal: to be a child and family therapist. A faculty mentor had recommended a graduate program for her, and, doing very little of her own research, she applied to the program and turned her attention back to school. She was accepted, fortunately, but upon learning more about it, she realized that it was a business focused program, not a therapeutic one.

“That’s disappointing,” I said, “But it sounds like you have a good sense of what you’d like to do in the short term – graduate school – and the long term – child and family therapy.”

“No,” said the student, “you don’t understand. I’m lost. What will I do now? Program deadlines have passed. I can’t go to graduate school now. I have to wait a whole-‘nother-year!”

How often does “I’m lost” mean “things didn’t turn out as I expected?”

Here’s the thing, and it’s something I tell students over and over in spite of the fact that it doesn’t reassure them at all: The best careers, just like the best lives, aren’t linear.

So many people are paralyzed by the idea of choosing a career – at the age of 20 – that they’ll have to spend the rest of their lives on. This is entirely reasonable. And yet, students seem equally intimidated by the idea that their career will change and evolve in natural and unpredictable ways.

Very few people look up as a junior in college and plan out a 40-year career during which everything happens exactly as they expect it to and they are perfectly successful and satisfied. How incredibly uninspiring that would be. The purpose of college career goals isn’t to remain unchanged for half a lifetime, but instead, to interact with the world and be changed. Our mission is to let the world change us, not to make it to the finish line exactly as we started.

The most interesting people will tell you that they never could’ve predicted where their careers would end up. This is why their stories are interesting, and this is why people want to learn from them. We are inspired by people who are open to life and let it change them, people who evolve in unexpected ways.

We instinctively know this is true. Most of our career advice has this idea at its core.

Take the somewhat controversial mantra – “follow your passion.” Cal Newport* and others have come to challenge this advice as, at best, misleading, and, at worst, harmful. But there is wisdom embedded here and it isn’t “ignore practicality,” but rather, “be open to inspiration.”

The near universal emphasis on networking is yet another example. Yes, networking is indispensable in finding a job in your field of interest. This is undeniably true. But the hidden value of networking is to expose you to people and ideas outside of your comfort zone. Your family and friends typically want to help you achieve the goals you’ve identified right now. Networking exposes you to people who don’t know your background, your goals, or the ways that you may already be limiting yourself. This opens you up to serendipity, and serendipity will push you to evolve.

“I’m lost” can be the beginning of amazing things but it’s not a place of comfort.  It can, however, be a place of humility. It is often when we’re most unsure of ourselves that we’re most open to new directions.

This was the case for my senior psychology major.  After a full session during which we discussed several possible options for her newfound open year, I brought her focus back to the long-term goal of becoming a child and family therapist.

“Did it occur to you,” I asked, “that many of the clients you will work with as a therapist will have come to you because they’re feeling disappointed and lost?  Might this experience of disappointment, and perhaps a few more down the road, help to make you a better, more empathetic therapist?” Her nod was reluctant.

Our lives are full of surprises. If, as a young professional, you’re struggling with the overwhelming task of figuring out your future, I encourage you to tackle it one step at a time. If you’re still in school, focus on creating a plan for what you’ll do the year after graduation, rather than what you want to do with the “rest of your life.” Go to workshops, meet new people, travel if you can. These things will inspire you to set new goals. Most importantly, be patient with the process.

Embrace your failures and “lost” years as something inevitable and challenging. Delays to your plan can be opportunities to improve and refine it. Don’t waste these opportunities. Take full advantage.

*Newport, C. (2012). ‘Follow Your Passion’ is Bad Advice [Video file]. Retrieved from http://99u.com/videos/22339/cal-newport-follow-your-passion-is-bad-advice.

NACE member schools can pick up a copy of this blog for their websites in NACEWeb’s Grab & Go area.

Calling for a Return to Relationships

Irene Hillman

Irene Hillman, Manager of Career Development, College of Business, Decosimo Success Center, The University of Tennessee Chattanooga
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/irenehillman

When I was first introduced to the world of student services as an educational psychology student, what intrigued me was the coaching aspect. I was taught that the key to successful coaching was to recognize your student as resourceful and whole, and to “meet them where they are.” That phrase, a decade and a half later, still floats into my brain when I talk with a client.

It takes a good deal of curiosity to really find out where a student is in her path of life and where she wants that journey to lead. Probing questions are called for, along with the ability to offer real encouragement and very often a sense of humor plus a sympathetic ear. In short, challenging a student to head toward his or her individual goals requires an authentic connection—an honest-to-goodness old fashioned relationship where you know the other person and where she’s been, where she is, and where she is going.

But I see this art of coaching frequently dwindling in career development departments. As colleges and parents focus on the ROI of the ever-increasing tuition payment, the focus has tipped, in my opinion, towards “checking the box” of offering services.

As we struggle to serve a large population, automating processes has become the norm. Resumes are dropped off by students, checked for typos by career services associates, and picked up the next morning again with rarely a discussion of what type of job the resume is trying to target or transferable skills a student might have left uncovered. Students are given access to a myriad of career assessment tests but may never have a conversation with an adviser about how results should be interpreted or how the results might affect their college experience. Pamphlets about the importance of job shadows, professional associations, networking—you name it—are developed and distributed without follow up to see if students understood the advice, are ready to get their feet wet, or have the support they need to make real progress.

In this stunted model, the responsibility is placed on the student to build their own career development program using the bits and pieces we provide. Have you ever heard of a baseball coach putting bats, gloves, and balls on the field and then sitting in the dugout? Our intentions are good and the resources are solid, but our efforts are in danger of falling flat in terms of providing support that actually moves a student toward career success.

I propose that the way to help a student is to know a student. Have all these resources and tools ready to use and share, but at the right moment—when your client is ready to take that particular step in her journey.

And, I should mention, only in a real relationship can you expect accountability from a student. In any other scenario, all you can do is cross your fingers and hope students are listening to the advice out there—on your department’s website, in the pamphlets, in your class visit—but they are more likely listening to whatever is streaming through their headphones. I have heard many career services professionals complain that students are unresponsive and lackadaisical. I am positive that those same students would be attentive and engaged if a relationship was in place with their career adviser.

Another thing to consider is the impact not having relationships with your students will have on employers. How would I identify which job opportunity or company I would recommend to a student without understanding his/her objectives and strengths? I would be failing my employers as a result of not knowing my students.
If I’m worth my salt as a career development professional, I want to be able to push a student toward progress—and progress is a highly subjective term. I need to be keenly aware of what progress would mean to the individual in front of me. There is no standard or bulk option. Does this stretch me thin? Heck yeah. Is it worth it? Heck yeah. Relationships are what make me love being a career development professional. Seeing my students transform into flourishing professionals is the best feeling in the world. And if I was busy checking the box, I would miss it.