Are Career Fairs Still Worth It?

by Kara Brown

Recently, the NACE Community has been discussing the value of career fairs and the issues surrounding student attendance. Kara Brown, associate director of Career Development at Gwynedd Mercy University had some answers to share.

One of the challenges that career centers have been facing is the lack of attendance at career fairs. Most of us are able to engage employers to attend, and coordinate a great event; however, when student attendance is low we are left feeling disappointed, and scratching our heads as to why students are not showing up. Similar to many other colleges and universities, we [at Gwynedd Mercy University] have planned career fairs that lacked attendance, and we kept asking ourselves, is it worth the time and effort? I would like to believe that the answer is still yes.

Every year our career development center hosts a Nursing and Healthcare Job Fair, and over the past three years attendance has waned. This year, as an office, we decided that we needed to make some changes to see if it would increase student engagement.

First, we changed the timing. Before this year, we had always hosted this specific career fair in the fall, and this year we decided to host the event in the spring. The thinking behind this was that graduating seniors may be more inclined to attend because graduation is right around the corner, and those who were not graduating may be interested in looking into summer positions.

In addition to changing the time in regards to the semester, we asked for nursing faculty feedback on which days and times would best serve the nursing and healthcare students.

Another change that we made was the location. In previous years, the fair was hosted in our version of the student center, but this time we decided to go to the students. So we hosted the event in the nursing and healthcare building on the first and second floor lobbies. This created a situation where students who were walking to class passed the great employers who were in attendance. Then these students would come to the event after class.

While time and location served as important factors, the most significant factor was the level of engagement. My colleague and I advertised the event through multiple e-mail blasts, social media ads, flyers, and through word of mouth. We also invited other local schools to attend to increase attendance and allow employers to see more students. Inviting other schools also opened up opportunities for career centers to build relationships with other schools.

Additionally, we asked some of the nursing faculty if we could present resume/professionalism workshops to their classes, and through these presentations we were able to speak to the importance of attending career fairs. The nursing and healthcare faculty members were excellent partners during this event because they also attended the event to speak to employers, and some faculty who were holding classes during that time allowed their classes to attend the event.

Also, we invited students from other majors to attend because some employers were offering internships in human resources, marketing, and healthcare administration.

Another step of engagement that was important was the one-on-one engagement of students through career counseling sessions, and encouraging them to attend the fair. Our career sessions were booked with resume reviews to prepare for the fair.

Finally, our partnership with our alumni office was very helpful because they relayed information about the fair to all alumni through a newsletter and e-mailed alumni who graduated within the last two years.

After the event, my colleagues and I continued to follow-up with students who attended the fair to get feedback, and encourage continued engagement with the employers they spoke to about job and internship opportunities. Through the combination of all of these factors, this career fair was very successful in regards to student attendance, and the employers were very happy as well. Our office is looking forward to using similar methods for additional career fairs that we host.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact me at brown.kara@gmercyu.edu.

Kara BrownKara Brown, Associate Director of Career Development, Gwynedd Mercy University
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/brownkara
Twitter: https://twitter.com/gmercyucareers

Is Online MBTI Training Worth It?

by Lee Desser

I first took the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) in graduate school, when I was working as a career services graduate assistant at the University of Southern California. It blew my mind. I realized that my friend from college who consistently showed up 15 minutes late to our noon meetings was probably not trying to disrespect me. Woah! Instead, my preference for Judging (J) was clashing with her preference for Perceiving (P). While I appreciate an orderly, scheduled, and systematic world (very J-like), she prefers a spontaneous, flexible, and casual one-typical P! I realized that rather than thinking that she subtly did not like me or value my time, I could have perhaps been more open-minded and adapted those Thursday noon-time lunches where I ate pasta and salad, to inviting her over to lunch for sandwiches or maybe even adapting to her schedule and showing up a few minutes later.

Fast-forward a few years later; I’m a career adviser at a graduate school and wanting further training with the MBTI. I investigated my options and realized that while in-person training generally costs $1,795 ($1,495 in Florida), online training costs $850 plus ~$170 for class materials. After applying for staff development funding from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, a graduate school that’s part of Middlebury College in Vermont, I was ready to move forward! Here are a few pros and cons to the training:

Con #1: Examples are Too Gendered

   Many of the examples are too gendered i.e. there are a lot of female clients who are ENFJ’s and into counseling. For instance, in Module 5 – Presentation 1, this was one of the examples: “Betty is a ‘doer’ and ‘helper’ who struggles with science and becomes a kindergarten teacher. She is a feeler. Al studies aeronautical engineering and physics and works in research and development. He’s a thinker. He becomes a manager and consultant.” This reinforces the idea that women go into helping professions and men go into math and science careers. Is this what they’re trying to show?

 

In the revision I’d love to see a woman studying engineering and a man studying social science. This typical gendering happens in Modules 1, 3, and 8, as well. To their credit, I let GS Consultants (the online trainers) know about this, and they are updating and editing the “stories.”

Con #2: Cost is a Bit High for Limited Length of Program

If I could change one part of this program, I would make it less rigid. I’m guessing someone who prefers Judging created the training! It would be nice to have more time with the material. There is a strict 60-calendar-day time limit, requiring about 45 hours of coursework. Additionally, if a student does not log into the CourseSites system every 14 calendar days, they will not maintain their eligibility in the program. At one point work got crazy and I was taking longer than expected on the final assignment. I e-mailed administration and asked how much longer I had before I was kicked out of the system (three days? four days?) and they couldn’t tell me. They said I would have to remember the last time I logged in. If they are going to take such a tough approach to kick people out of the training if they don’t login at least every two weeks, then I think there should be a way to find out if your time is almost up. Luckily, I was OK and successfully completed the training.

Pro #1: Much More Sophisticated Knowledge of Type Dynamics

One thing I learned in this program that surprised me: I had no idea there was such a thing as the hierarchy of functions of each type.

Essentially, as Myers writes in the seventh edition of Introduction to Myers-Briggs Type, “Type describes 16 dynamic energy systems, not 16 static boxes. Each four-letter type is not the result of adding its four preferences together. It is the interaction of the preferences with one another” (52).

Type is much more complex than it may first appear and having an awareness of type dynamics, dominant functions, auxiliary functions, and hierarchy of type provides greater insight into to an individual and how they might react under stress.

Pro #2: “Steps in Interpreting the MBTI” Worksheet

The most useful sheet I received as part of my training was the “Steps in Interpreting the MBTI.” This document explains a step-by-step process to interpreting the assessment, including how to describe the work of C.G. Jung, the focus on type preferences, and the importance of verifying type. It also includes hints for providing MBTI feedback based on the age of the client and how to work with clients who have slight PCI’s or preferences. After taking the online training, I feel more confident advising a client who has unclear type preferences.

Pro #3: Wonderful Feedback From My Instructor

I really appreciated all of the individual feedback and attention to detail from my instructor. Even though it was an online course I felt more connected to the material from the individualized comments on my various assignments. For instance, he pointed out that I should always capitalize the preferences when using them as nouns, i.e., Extraversion, and that the longer a bar graph is, as in the Judging/Perceiving dichotomy, the respondent is more clear about her preference.

Overall I would recommend the training, though I wish I could have done it in-person. If anyone has completed the in-person training, I’d be curious to hear about your experience! Also, if you have any additional comments or questions, feel free to reach out to me on LinkedIn.

Lee Desser

Lee Desser, Career and Academic Adviser, Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lmdesser

Auld Lang Syne—Resolutions for 2017

by Marc Goldman

I always enjoy celebrating the holiday season with friends and family. New Year’s Eve has been a tradition in my house since I was a preschooler. Yes, my parents let me stay up late from a very early age, which might explain my night owl tendencies to this day. Once January 1 has come and gone, people discuss their resolutions for the coming year. These goals and commitments might have to do with health and wellness, social lives, hobbies, activism, and even the workplace. And that got me thinking. From a professional standpoint, what are my New Year’s resolutions for 2017?

  1. Follow the data: More and more, our industry is turning to data, big and small, quantitative and qualitative, as a source for strategic planning, decision making, and new ideas. My goal is to use data as a powerful driver for both my office’s programming and employer outreach. In addition, data will help us assess our success in terms of outcomes, resources, attendance, and awareness. And embracing external reports on trends and data will help with messaging and promotion of my team’s mission on and off campus.
  2. No I in TEAM: Half of my staff is new to the career center this academic year, so we have been rebuilding and team building at the same time. This staffing scenario provides great opportunity and enthusiasm, but it presents challenges to the staffers, new and seasoned as well. I need to be more open minded than ever before, while remaining focused on my philosophy and vision of our shared work to ensure that we benefit the students, the reason we are all in it together.
  3. Show me the money: As with many career services offices, funding can be a challenge. Having offices on two campuses only makes that issue more pronounced. I plan to explore fundraising opportunities now that my staffing trials and tribulations have ended (for the present). Whether I develop an employer partner program, fundraising for specific program needs, or both has yet to be decided. But I will be consulting with my advancement colleagues for their input and experience on this one.
  4. Reading is fundamental: While I do spend a good deal of time reading online articles, checking out the occasional blog post, and following many colleagues (and celebs) on Twitter, it is high time I do a bit more of a deep dive into this wonderful world of books. There are a number of titles on my hit list. I just have to start with one. Is there a career services book club out there I can join? Yikes, did I just come up with another idea to implement?
  5. Rudy! Rudy! Rudy!: One of my favorite movies is Rudy, the story of the ultimate sports underdog, whose grit, determination, and positive attitude lead him to some degree of legend status. Rudy’s story reminds me that I need to keep my positive attitude (no laughing, please) regardless of circumstances, challenges, or roadblocks ahead. And in my office and on campus, optimism really can be one of the most powerful motivators and messages to convey.

I will check in with you in January 2018 to let you know how well I end up sticking to my resolutions. What are some of yours? Feel free to let me know on Twitter (@MarcGoldmanNYC). Happy 2017!

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

Rise and Thrive

by Samantha Haimes

Samantha Haimes won the 2016 NACE/Spelman Johnson Rising Star Award.

Last summer was a bit of a personal and professional whirlwind for me. Within two months, I left a job that afforded me growth, opportunity, and some of the best co-workers I could ever imagine, took my dream trip to southern Italy (let’s chat if you need any convincing on taking this trip for yourself), and moved to a new state, 1,700 miles from my friends and family in south Florida. In the midst of all of this, I also achieved one of my biggest professional accomplishments to date: receiving the NACE/Spelman Johnson Rising Star Award at the 2016 NACE Conference & Expo.

Since beginning in career services about six years ago, I have enjoyed learning about the recipient of the Rising Star. Perhaps it is because some of the people I admire most in our field have won this in years past (they know who they are, I gush over their accomplishments and amazing personalities everytime I see them). But I think it is also because there is something really motivating and inspiring to me about professionals getting recognized for strong leadership and contributions to our field, even just a few years into their career.

Contributions to the field… only four to seven years in? It may sound like a tall order, especially if you’re newer to the field. I would be lying if I didn’t admit that there have been [many] moments when I’ve questioned myself: Am I significantly contributing to the field?  I am not running my own department or division. I am not single-handedly restructuring an office or offering consulting services to other career centers. Am I making significant contributions?

But what I’ve realized is, there is so much that goes into making positive, impactful, and meaningful contributions to the field career services. Among many things, being a leader in this field also has a lot to do with the way that you carry yourself, your willingness to learn and take risks, the relationships you strive to build, and your ability and openness to reflect.

As I said, I have always enjoyed hearing about what has influenced the path of past recipients, as I’ve tried to apply some of those things to my own professional practice. So when asked to write this blog post, I thought it was only appropriate to share a few tips of my own that I strive for each day.

Ask questions. This is something I actively work on. The Achiever in me loves to get things done, so it can be easy to just start tackling a problem or issue at work without asking critical questions. Newer professionals may sometimes shy away from asking questions as well, concerned that it might appear they lack knowledge, skills, or moreover that they are questioning something inappropriately. However, we have to get past all of this and realize that taking the time to ask well-thought-out questions will actually yield greater results. Not to mention, you will seem that much more engaged in whatever you’re working on in your office and will likely make others feel comfortable to ask questions themselves. One of my mentors taught me a lot of lessons in asking questions. I notice that whenever I ask for her advice or guidance, she doesn’t actually give me the answer. She simply asks me questions until I process things out enough to make my own decision. It’s tricky, but effective!

Become your own advocate. Throughout the earlier years of my career, I had a lot of difficulty asking for things that I wanted. I never wanted to appear selfish and I definitely did not want to inconvenience or bother anyone. This all came from a good place, but can be a debilitating mindset to take on as a professional. Just because you know what you want and ask for it, doesn’t mean you are being selfish—if you ask for it in the right context.

Funny enough, I learned a big lesson in this area when it came to attending the NACE conference. In 2013, the conference was just a few hours from my then-home in Miami and I was dying to go. The trouble was, sending me to the conference would be costly and I knew some key players in my office were already attending. At one point in my career, I would have accepted this as defeat, assumed I couldn’t attend, and felt disappointed as I followed the conference on social media later in the year. But instead, I printed out the conference program, outlined specific goals, and went through each session identifying which I would attend and the direct contributions I could make to the office after attending. I made my “pitch” to the executive director and left his office feeling exhilarated. There was something so energizing about making my case. I almost didn’t even care what the outcome was because at the end of the day, I knew I had done everything I could to try and attend. I reference this example, so many years later, because it was truly a turning point for me. It afforded me a level of professional confidence and maturity that made me realize the importance and impact of advocating for myself. Whenever I find myself feeling intimidated to ask for something, I think of the feeling I had when I left his office (and the subsequent feeling when he approved me to attend later that week) and channel that same energy.

Be genuine. We are lucky to work in a field with some outstanding professionals who are even more amazing people. Getting to know your colleagues as individuals and not just for their roles is an all-around strategy that will help you accomplish more in your work and likely help you enjoy everyday at the office even more. It is so important to stay genuine to who you are. I really believe people can tell the difference between someone who is genuine and someone who is being fake—we’ve all seen it right? I show people the real Samantha, pretty much right up front. I have a lot of energy and passion, I’m upbeat and positive, and dare I say it, am a bit of a raging extrovert. The relationships I’ve built, with colleagues and mentors within my own departments and across the country, are in large part thanks to my willingness to be my genuine self in front of others. Think of someone who you would describe as genuine in your life. Chances are, you likely enjoy their company, trust their judgement, and appreciate their character, confidence, and communication style. If you break each of these things down, aren’t these all qualities we want from the people we work with? Be genuine yourself and you’ll attract others who are genuine.

Practice gratitude. Maybe I am influenced by all of the resolutions of 2017, but I think that gratitude is something we may not always think about when it comes to the workplace. But we have a lot to be thankful for. We work in a field that makes a lasting impact on students’ lives, has consistent national attention, and is filled with inspiring innovators and thought-leaders for us to all look up to. Hopefully you work in an office where the work that you are doing day-to-day is something to be thankful for, along with your colleagues, co-workers, and supervisors. I would advise that whether you are a newer or more seasoned professional, making a conscious effort to practice gratitude in the workplace can be a gamechanger. It is easy to get caught up in the “busy season” and anxiously await for summer and holiday breaks when things slow down. But isn’t the business of it all what makes us thrive? Without students on campus, none of us would have these roles.

In 2016, when I knew there was the potential for some personal and professional change in my life, I made an intentional effort to start each day with a grateful heart. Well, I challenge everyone, including myself, to start each workday with a sincerely grateful mind. When you go into work, and you have a busy day with back-to-back Outlook calendar invites, I guarantee there is still something to be grateful for. Maybe you finally secured a meeting with a faculty member you’ve been trying to get in front of, or perhaps you’re hosting a new program in partnership with a student organization that could lead to something great. Whatever the case may be, adopting this mindset can have a positive lasting impact not only on the work that you produce, but on your professional reputation and brand.

In the end, strive to thrive. You know your role better than anyone, so challenge yourself in this next year to thrive as a career services professional. As I now settle into my new home in Vermont, post conference and post Rising Star, I am consistently striving to thrive as a professional, thrive in relationships I build with both new and existing colleagues, and thrive in my own self-reflection.

The NACE Awards honor members’ outstanding achievements in the career services and HR/staffing professions. Excellence Awards are judged on program needs/objectives, content, design, creativity, innovation, measurable outcomes and ease of replication. Win honors and recognition for yourself, your staff, and your organization. Awards submissions close January 31, 2017. Details: http://www.naceweb.org/about-us/awards.aspx.

Samantha HaimesLinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/samanthaghaimes
Twitter: @sghaimes

Samantha Haimes is a career services professional with a passion for connecting and educating both students and employers. She works in marketing and communications at Middlebury College’s Center for Careers and Internships. Prior to her current position, she was employed at the University of Miami in various roles at the Toppel Career Center, most recently as the Associate Director for Career Readiness. She earned a master of science in higher education from the University of Miami and a bachelor of arts in advertising and public relations from the University of Central Florida. She has also worked at Cabrini College in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

 

The Impact of Career Services in the University Classroom

by Jane Christianson

As a career adviser in higher education, working with a primarily adult-learner student population, one of my favorite ways to interface with the students is through giving short workshops in on-site classrooms. Not only does it give a larger group of our students initial exposure to campus career services, it also serves as a great way to engage students to further explore the benefits of working with us throughout their undergrad or graduate degree pursuits. It is a privilege to be invited by instructors to address their classes by sharing relevant, career-oriented topics via an informative and interactive classroom presentation.

In order to be invited into the classroom, I have established a rapport with key faculty by reaching out to them at both our quarterly faculty/staff meetings and at our “first night” meetings as each one-month course begins. By letting faculty know the types of useful presentations or mini-workshops I can provide, I have proactively encouraged the possibility of addressing students in their classroom.

With the increasing employer-mandated importance of soft skills in the workplace, career services plays a unique role in instructing and advising students regarding practical, career readiness and research skills within the academic setting.

My primary directive is to assist students and graduates with professional and career development, and it has been truly rewarding to witness the excitement that students express after participating in my classroom career services presentations. Using concise outline-style handouts, short PowerPoint presentations, and active role-playing, I have successfully trained students in general education, prenursing and nursing, teaching, special education, counseling psychology and business degree programs.

Several of my peers have expressed that the typical faculty-invited career services classroom presentation is about 10-15 minutes, so I am especially grateful that I have been engaged for 45-60 minute presentations on an ongoing basis. It has proven to be a fulfilling, collaborative and effective partnership with our campus faculty!

Bringing career services into the classrooms has increased the visibility of our Student Resource Center and has enabled me to establish strong credibility and rapport with the students as well. The payoff is that these classroom presentations have made a positive impact on the students as they have shared their delight in knowing that career services can truly assist them in their career endeavors.

Did I also mention it’s been lots of fun??

jane christiansonJane Christianson, Career Adviser – Fresno/Bakersfield, CA Region National University

 

Avoiding a Renege by Building a Relationship

by Susan Brennan

It’s a job seeker’s market for college students, with many returning from a summer internship with a job offer in hand—long before graduation. It’s a rosy scenario, except for the challenges it poses for both sides: Students are against the clock to accept or bow out gracefully, and employers are challenged to hold a new hire’s attention for nine months. But I have seen some creative and smart ways to avoid a renege.

A lot of companies are building retention plans that include multiple touch points from the time of the offer to the time a new employee actually fills the seat. It may be a simple gesture—sending a care package during final exams or a holiday card—or a larger commitment such as a monthly dinner. Either way, it’s about building a welcoming community from day one. Here’s what some of our corporate partners do to keep new hires in the pipeline:

Build purposeful relationships.

At PricewaterhouseCoopers, all new hires and interns are assigned a relationship partner, career coach, and peer coach. The relationship partner develops a trusting relationship with the new hire, provides insight on demonstrating high performance, and communicates the value of the PwC experience. The career coach proactively schedules time to meet with the new hire, provides ongoing career counseling, and communicates the importance of developing leadership skills. The peer coach establishes a relationship with the new hire so the individual can quickly feel comfortable contacting them with questions, supports their productivity by assisting them with tools needed to immediately begin adding value, and helps acclimate the new hire to the firm.

Hold networking events.

Networking programs provide a more casual opportunity to get to know colleagues and other new hires. Bentley students who have accepted or have an outstanding offer from Liberty Mutual, for example, are invited to attend “LMI Peer Connections.” It’s a platform to network and ask questions about career opportunities and decisions. (And free food is always a hit with college students.)

Get social.

Setting up an app or using social media is an easy way to keep candidates in touch with what’s going on at your company, and to allow them to ask questions. (I’ve see this as particularly useful if someone is relocating.) Using technology to bridge the gap is something that students are comfortable with, as they can do it on their own time: in the dorm room, on the bus, or in the cafeteria.

Create experiences.

Today’s candidates care about experiences. When EY has done campus recruiting at my university, for example, they’ve brought along a petting zoo. (Yes, real chicks, bunnies, and even a little pig). Some companies will make an offer over dinner at a nice restaurant. Whenever you get the chance to create experiences—big or small—do it. Taking the time to go that extra mile won’t go unnoticed. 

Be flexible.

If you have your heart set on a new hire, you may need to be willing to accommodate requests. If a candidate wants to accept an offer but already had plans to first spend six months after graduation doing meaningful work like Teach America, for example, perhaps it’s possible to defer a start date. You may even find ways to tie the experience into your company’s corporate social responsibility initiatives.

Now some tips you can pass on to job seekers

Candidates can also follow some simple rules of thumb to help them decide whether an offer is right for them. (These may also be useful for employers to look at the other side.)

Do some soul searching.

At Bentley, our students actually begin the “soul searching” process during freshman year; but it’s still an ongoing, lifelong process. Identify your interests, passions, and personality. What’s going to keep you inspired and getting out of bed each day for work? Differentiate between logistical aspects of a job offer—salary, health benefits—and other opportunities like culture, mentors, educational reimbursement, and professional memberships. (Try to get away from expectations placed on you by family and friends.) 

Review the offer with career services.

Once you get a verbal or written offer, make an appointment with a career services professional at your school. They can review compensation and benefits, address any concerns, and discus appropriate next steps. (They can also guide you on offer etiquette—whether accepting or declining an offer—as most schools have policies on both.) 

Set (or re-set) your priorities.

Just because an employer didn’t pop open a bottle of expensive champagne during your job offer, it doesn’t mean that they don’t value your work. Companies have different policies they need to follow. Step back and think about the big picture: Is the company culture a good fit? Do they offer great benefits? Is there opportunity to grow? 

Ask for an extension.

If you aren’t sure whether to accept or reject an offer, companies are typically sensitive to giving you time to make an informed decision. If you have a month or two, for example, take that time to explore what else is out there. In the end, employers will respect the time you took in making a well-thought decision. But, remember, deadlines are set to give employers time to reach out to other candidates, so the sooner you break the news, the better for everyone. 

Have difficult conversations.

A student came to me with a job offer in hand; he loved the company but not the actual job he was offered. In a case like this, it’s okay to talk with the employer and explain that you would love to work for them, but perhaps in a different role. Just be sure not to wait until the last minute or send an e-mail. Pick up the phone and have a candid, respectful conversation. (A career services professional can guide you through these kinds of conversations.) 

One last note to employers.

In the end, a renege is sometimes unavoidable—and could even be a blessing in disguise: If a new hire has reservations about accepting the job, they will likely show up unhappy and may end up not performing well if their head isn’t in the game. 

The reality is that it’s a new world order and talented candidates are driving corporate strategy. But retaining the best and brightest during these competitive times is possible. Be solutions oriented, and you’ll negotiate a mutual win.

susan brennanSusan Brennan, Associate Vice President for University Career Services, Bentley University

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/susansandlerbrennan
Twitter: @BentleyCareerSB
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/bentleycareer/?fref=ts
Website:  http://careeredge.bentley.edu/

Breaking Away from the Four-Year Career Plan: Implementing a Personalized Career Planning Model

by Amanda Carchedi

This past June, the Center for Career Development (CCD) at the University of Connecticut (UConn) was pleased to receive the 2016 NACE Member’s Choice Award for the program entitled “Breaking Away from the Four-Year Plan: Implementing a Personalized Career Planning Model.” This program, designed by Nancy Bilmes, Amanda Carchedi, Lee Hameroff, and Emily Merritt from the CCD, is a modern resource that provides career development guidance to students while remaining inherently flexible. Working at an institution with more than 30,000 students, the CCD found it critical to provide career guidance that could reach and be applicable to all students. In order to offer structured guidance and action items, and integrate modern techniques for delivery, it was realized that the CCD needed to move away from the traditional, outdated four-year planning model. Piloted within the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the UConn Personalized Career Planning Model successfully provides students with an individualized career experience that is customized to their career development needs.

The Original: CLAS Exploration Plan

Our work on Personalized Career Planning has been realized in two stages. First, Emily sought to benefit College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) students by creating and implementing the “Developing a Career Exploration Plan” video and “Next Steps” questionnaire, which helped these students understand the elements of career exploration through a brief Prezi voiceover clip and next steps questionnaire, producing a tailored action plan based on the student’s self-identified career development stages and connecting to resources offered through the CCD.

In its first year of implementation, the CLAS Exploration Plan was piloted with arts and sciences students, as well as introduced to incoming students through career presentations at University Open Houses. One hundred fifty students and alumni used the resource. It was evaluated by requesting informal qualitative feedback from students, and academic advisors who referred students to the resource.  Students said the video helped them learn about resources they were previously unaware of, that they shared the resource with friends, and that it helped motivate them to initiate their next steps. An academic adviser that referred students to the resource said she shared it because it “demystified the concept of vocational development” and helped students develop tangible next steps.

New and Improved: UConn Personal Career Plan

This positive feedback led our department to decide to create a new version of this modernized resource to support all undergraduate students in developing their personalized career plans. We started by creating a new model, the UConn Career Engagement Model, to represent our department’s philosophy of supporting all UConn students in their career exploration, cultivation, and management.

The UConn Personal Career Plan builds off of our new model by guiding students through the career elements of “Reflect & Explore Possibilities,” “Cultivate Career Capital,” and “Manage Career Development.” Students can watch a 90-second introductory video to learn how to start their Personalized Action Plan.

Once watching the “Getting Started” video students can watch one of three clips based on where they are in their personal career development. Currently our webpage gives suggested next steps based on which element they’ve clicked on.

We are in the process of developing a customizable action list where students can identify next steps based on which career element they are within and design their own personal career plan to organize goals and future steps.  This “Action Steps Builder” and the completed UConn Personalized Career Plan will launch in spring 2017 and be promoted to all undergraduate students.

Moving Forward

Once the customizable UConn Personal Career Plan is fully launched, the program will be promoted to academic advisors from all departments as a tool to refer students to the career office. It will ensure that students are coming into the office better prepared to receive personalized coaching and guidance.  The department is committed to integrating the model as a foundation for its counseling, programming, and technology resources and is working to establish a committee to work on the continued expansion and integration of the personalized career planning model and career development process. Ideas for further integration include utilization of the resource during initial counseling appointments to development action plans for subsequent sessions and training of academic advisors to use the resource as a tool for referrals to the CCD.

The Center for Career Development (CCD) at the University of Connecticut (UConn) was awarded the 2016 NACE Member’s Choice Award for the program entitled “Breaking Away from the Four-Year Plan: Implementing a Personalized Career Planning Model.”

NACE is accepting submissions for the 2017 NACE Awards program from December 1, 2016, through January 31, 2017. Finalists for NACE Awards will be notified in the spring, and winners will be announced during the NACE 2017 Conference & Expo in June in Las Vegas.

 

Amanda Carchedi

Amanda Carchedi, University of Connecticut Marketing and Communication Manager, Center for Career Development
Twitter: https://twitter.com/amandalcarchedi
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/amandacarchedi