by Marc Goldman
The dog days of summer are a thing of the past. August is no longer about taking that family vacation or catching some remaining rays at the beach. Okay, maybe for some people that is still the way of the world. But for many career services professionals, it is about the start of the fall semester, and there is no rest for the weary. Many career office staffs no longer notice the difference between the summertime and the academic year outside of warmer weather and a more casual dress code. Even if things calm down due to a decrease in student and/or employer presence, summer months mean gearing up for fall. And August? It’s crunch time!
What are some of the things I tackle individually or with my team in August as we look towards wrapping up the summer and starting another exciting academic year? Here are some highlights:
- Program Planning and Scheduling – With job fairs, on-campus interviewing, information sessions, networking nights, workshops, and panels on the docket for fall, we need to sort out the what, when, where, who, and how of all of our programming for fall. This is far from a simple task at any college, but across two campuses with students already facing the rigors of a dual curriculum (religious and secular learning) and all the activities and involvements of undergraduates, scheduling can be a puzzle to say the least. And let us not forget the other offices, academic departments, and student organizations scheduling events for the same times.
- Forging and Re-forging Collaborations – During the academic year, time can rapidly fly by, and you realize you never had those key meetings with colleagues and stakeholders you were hoping to have. Or you need to debrief and regroup with internal and external collaborators with the goal of new ideas and continued successes for the coming year. There may even be staffing changes throughout the institution that you want to get caught up on to establish connections for moving forward before things go full steam ahead.
- Employer Outreach – Since on-campus recruiting seems to start earlier every year, August (if not all summer) is spent coordinating employer dates, logistics, and participation. Of course, employers are on their own summer timetables, so there can be some challenges in making contact, setting up meetings, and confirming involvement. The term “stalker” would be inappropriate here, but “persistence” on the part of my team is certainly Job #1.
- Annual Report – August is typically a time I reserve for reflection on the year that was, and accordingly, my directors and I begin to compile our annual report to present to my direct supervisor and the college administration. It is always fulfilling to be able to look back at all we have accomplished in a single academic year, knowing that at the heart of it is a group effort to help students achieve their goals.
- Performance Evaluations – Something that staff might not look forward to about this time of year is the annual performance review process. While people find this process to be a bit intimidating, and others view it as less than crucial due to constant feedback loops on the team, it is a part of the institutional human resources establishment. I try to ensure that it is a positive and productive experience, more about looking forward to the new year than gazing back at the one already in the books.
- Suit and Tie Drive – Many career centers offer suit closets or the like for students who need to borrow an interview suit for a variety of reasons or just in a pinch. We wanted to offer a similar service to our students who might be in need of proper job search attire, but we did not want to expend the bandwidth or physical space to handle this all year. Instead, this summer, we did our first Suit & Tie Drive, accepting donations from the campus community. When the students return, we will offer free suits, jackets, shirts, and ties to those who need them. Any items not taken by a student will be donated to an external clothing drive in NYC. We are very enthusiastic to see how this turns out.
- Credit Internship Papers – Toward the end of August, our business school students will complete their summer internship experiences. A number of them have done these internships for academic credit. Since our office administers the business school credit internship program, we get to grade the students’ experiential papers. This provides insights into how our students spent their summers, which employers are prime to contact for further development, and allows us to serve as grammar, spelling, and content sticklers for a brief, shining moment.
- My Second Career as a Voiceover Artist – In an effort to scale some of our offerings and increase accessibility to students, my team is moving more content online. We already have a fairly robust website of information and resources, but the new goal is to integrate more seamlessly with the academic enterprise at our institution, so we are putting video content and PowerPoint decks on Canvas. This has given me the chance to bring my voice talents to the masses. It is not quite having my own morning radio show, but it’s a start.
I hope everyone has (had?) a glorious end to their summer season, and I genuinely wish you all, my colleagues far and wide, an amazing fall semester!