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and integrate modern techniques for delivery, it was realized that the CCD needed to move away from the traditional, outdated four-year planning model.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