The Assessment Diaries: Beyond Satisfaction

Desalina Allen

A post by NACE Guest Blogger, Desalina Allen, Senior Assistant Director at NYU Wasserman Center for Career Development
Twitter: @DesalinaAllen

I almost waited to write this post until my assessment of our recent Dining for Success (DFS) etiquette dinner was complete.  Almost. I wanted to write about the learning demonstrated via our pre- and post-assessment after I was sure they actually demonstrated students learned something. Then I realized that I promised to provide a realistic overview of what it’s like to work with assessment day-to-day.

You know how sometimes when you start something new, more experienced people say things like “it’s not so scary” or “you’ll get the hang of it in no time”?  I may be guilty of saying these exact things when introducing assessment to others.  But I have a confession: The assessment of this event is scaring me.

Our DFS program has always been a hit with employers and students.  How do we know they like it?  We give out a post event survey that basically measures satisfaction with the event (and allows students to rate their overall learning):

The truth is, how could you not like an event like this? They get a great (oftentimes free) meal at a popular local restaurant, a chance to network, and tons of dining and interview tips. This is why moving away from a satisfaction survey is so scary – students are generally satisfied with our events and it’s rewarding (and easy) to share a summary of these surveys (95% of students reported that they would recommend this event to friends!).   

The problem is that, as educators, satisfaction isn’t all that we care about.  We want students to walk away having learned something from our events and learning can be challenging to measure. So, in an effort to make sure students were actually walking away with new information we prioritized topics of importance, introduced more structured activities to teach these topics, and provided enhanced training for our employers and staff.  

In assessment lingo: we set learning goals!  Here they are:

Students will be able to….

  • Identify the proper table arrangements at a formal dinner (including placement of silverware, bread plate, water and wine glass)

  • List two guidelines regarding what to order during a mealtime interview

  • List three appropriate discussion topics for a networking event

  • List three topics to avoid discussing during a networking event

  • List appropriate ways to follow up with professionals after events

To evaluate these goals, we measured students’ current level of knowledge with a pre event survey sent out with registration confirmations: you can view it here. Then at the end of the event, we had students fill out a nearly identical paper survey and encouraged input from employers and career services staff.  We also asked them ONE satisfaction question (because, hey, satisfaction is also important).

We are still tabulating the students’ responses and it’s nerve wracking.  I’m hoping I can share some really great improvements in their knowledge but there is always a risk that this doesn’t show up clearly in the survey results.  

Being that this is the first time we’ve approached the assessment of this event with pre and post surveys I’m sure there will be changes we need to make to the process.  I’ll be sharing the results and what we learned from this process in a follow up post but would love readers to share their experience setting and evaluating learning goals.  Has it worked for you? Have you evaluated programs this way? Any tips for pre and post surveys? What were the results? Any feedback on the learning goals or survey?

Social Media Bridges the Gap in Communication and Engages Constituents in NYU Wasserman Center’s Award-winning #iamlimitless campaign

Heather TranenA post by Guest Blogger, Heather Tranen
Associate Director, Global Communications & Strategic Outreach, NYU Wasserman Center for Career Development
Twitter: @htranen


What do President Obama, Spike Lee, Macy’s College Recruiting, and Italy have in common? They were all an integral part of NYU Wasserman Center’s  NACE Innovation Excellence Award-winning#iamlimitless global social media student engagement campaign (don’t try saying that ten times fast).

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We were all excited about our big win at the awards ceremony, but I was still nervous about people actually showing up to the presentation the following day. I figured maybe 30 people would show up – half of which would hail from our own institution. When the room filled up and people were lined up outside of the door, I thought maybe everyone would leave once they realized Justin Bieber wasn’t performing.

A few awkward jokes and flubbed video showing later, the crowd still remained to hear myself and Sneh share NYU’s #iamlimitless campaign. No pressure, right?

Nerves aside, it was incredibly exciting to see so many people interested in what our campaign offered students and other constituents. This blog post serves to provide an overview of the campaign and share the resources and best practices you can adopt to create a campaign of your own.

What is #iamlimitless?

Sneh asked the audience.

“I am limitless. Say it out loud. It Feels good, right?”

And it does. #iamlimitless empowers students to tell their career story to their peers through the powerful tool of social media.

Through the #iamlimitless campaign, the Wasserman Center saw a drastic increase in student and employer engagement. Our previous, primarily email and print-centric campaigns left a large portion of the Gen Y student population disconnected from career events and services relevant to their needs. The #iamlimitless campaign bridged the communication gap through a targeted, incentive based initiative. The campaign brought to life the Wasserman’s “limitless” opportunities motto, encouraged students across the globe to tell their global career stories, and morphed the intimidating notion of career development into a friendly, accessible entity. Additionally, the campaign served as a brand building opportunity for employers and local businesses. Organizations ranging from Macy’s to small cafes in the Greenwich Village area sponsored our raffle prizes. At the end of each week of the fall semester, those who   used  #iamlimitless to share their career stories across social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram were entered into a raffle and winners were announced via Twitter and Facebook.

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Why Social Media?

There are so many platforms out there, and our students are all over them. To this generation, it’s almost as if things don’t actually happen unless they are filming, photographing, tweeting or status updating it. Gen Y overshares and hyperconsumes content in the online space.

“They take technology for granted. They live through social media. They want the world their way, and they want it now.” – Forbs on Gen Y

As professionals we need to navigate our communication strategies to both speak their language, and teach them the language of the professional world. The #iamlimitless campaign served as a way to engage students in the space they are comfortable with, and then lure them into our office to connect to the tangible resources they need to be successful after college – a bait and switch of sorts.

ROI: Vanity vs. Actionable Metrics

Vanity Metrics: It’s always nice to have a large following and fans to make us feel super important and liked. These vanity metrics are often how supervisors judge whether we are doing a good job. Yes, these are important. However, who are these individuals following or liking us? Are they strangers, or actually connections who are engaging and utilizing our resources?

Actionable Metrics: What really matters is whether our campaign translated into “performance” outcomes. Who retweeted us, who became more aware of our resources and came to the office to utilize them? These are the questions we should all ask when engaging with students in the social media space.

Did it work? You be the judge!

#iamlimitless was used 133% times more than the second highest hashtag used by the Wasserman Center

#iamlimitless was cited over 100 times across the Wasserman Center’s social media platforms

@NYUWasserman was mentioned 150% times more in the campaign launch month of September 2012

@NYUWasserman’s Klout score increased by 10 points!

Participation in events like our career fair and applications for our Funded Internship Award increased exponentially.

We caught the attention of the Washington Square News and an article in support of the campaign was published and disseminated to its 100k subscribers.

NEXT for NYU Wasserman Center and #iamlimitless

The Wasserman Center will launch it’s #iamlimitless Socializer campaign this fall. It will further engage a broader audience by incentivizing students who get the most likes, repins, and retweets on posts that connect their peers to the Wasserman Center’s resources. Stay tuned for the results of it!

DIY Social Media Campaigning

Start Small:  Don’t feel like you need to throw a rager for your first social media party. Think about starting small with a one-time incentive to complement an individual event.

Operate on One Platform: Use one established platform that you are comfortable with before you expand to a multi-platform approach. Our first experience with a campaign was with a Macy’s event hosted using Foursquare specials. Those who checked in during the time of the event were entered into a raffle to win prizes donated by Macy’s.

Build Buzz and Engage All Constituents: Build buzz both online leading up to the launch of your campaign, but also in person by engaging all constituents. We engaged student affairs offices, faculty, alumni and local organizations to help support the campaign.

Provide  Affordable: Incentives: You also don’t have to break the bank. Incentives don’t need to be expensive. Students love swag, but the majority of our incentives were provided by employer sponsorships, or members of the NYU surrounding businesess. You can even think of non-monetary incentives like an informational interview with one of your employer partners.

Track Impact: Using your Facebook page’s admin metrics, Hootsuite clicks, Twitonomy metrics, and Klout score are just a few ways to see what’s working, what needs tweaking, and how effectively your office is engaging with your constituents.

Thanks again to everyone who supported the #iamlimitless campaign, and who came to our presentation and asked insightful questions. Twitter was also ablaze with #iamlimitless chatter. You can check out our Storify for more on what #NACE13 folks had to say about the #iamlimitless presentation! NACE 2013 was such an awesome experience and we can’t wait to see what’s in store for next year’s conference! If anyone is interested in continuing the social media conversation, hit me up on Twitter at @HTranen!