Career Services/Career Development
By Martha Smith, Rob Rostoni
Rationale for why Career Services/Career Development is important to the university
There is a spectrum in higher education: admit, retain, and then emit (and hopefully engage alumni to support the ongoing mission of the institution and provide financial support). Career Services is vital in the full spectrum. Typical reasons, in no order, one goes to college include:
- To pursue academic studies and intellectual interests;
- To explore one’s calling, purpose, pursue a career or employment, and prepare for a profession;
- To increase earning potential and achieve a higher quality of life; and
- To broaden horizons, meet new people, have new experiences, and explore interests.
Career Services offers the following in the admit part of the spectrum:
- Career Services offers outcomes, e.g., placement statistics, key in promoting the value of higher education.
- Career Services helps students connect to what the college has to offer in vocational, academic, and co-curricular programs.
Career Services offers the following in the retain part of the spectrum:
- Career Services helps students to assess their motivations, interests, skills, and abilities, while connecting them to area(s) of study. This assessment helps students find a major that is a ‘fit,’ thus helping retention and student persistence.
- Career Services helps students understand their professional and vocational options and how the institution can help them in their pursuits.
- Career Services helps students gain relevant experience to prepare and equip them for their future occupation.
Career Services offers the following in the emit part of the spectrum:
- Career Services helps students transition from college to life after college.
- Career Services provides programs, services, and resources to help students with their post-graduate plans.
Career Services helps engage alumni:
- Career Services typically offers services for unemployed, underemployed, and re-careering alumni.
- Career Services offers a way for alumni to give back to their institution, e.g., by mentoring offering internships and job postings from their industry, acting as guest speakers, serving as networking contacts, etc.
Research and studies that support the values of career services
Results from the National Association of Colleges and Employers’ “2010 Student Survey” show that the likelihood of a student getting a job offer increased with the frequency of career center use: Students who used the career center four or more times a semester was more likely to have job offers than those who used it once a semester. Use of career services resulted in higher median salaries, and median salaries climbed with increased use. There was a difference in median salary of more than $5,700 between students from the Class of 2010 who never went to career services ($35,978) and those who went four or more times per semester ($41,714). Students who went to career services once per semester had a median starting salary of $37,020, while the median salary for those who went two or three times per semester was $37,898.
Freshmen have increased their use of career services over the past year. 2010 freshmen used the services of their career centers more than was the case with 2009 freshmen. In general, the increases are in the prep-related work, i.e., getting help in developing their resumes, practice interviewing, and researching employers. Clearly, freshmen understand that they need to be prepared, and are getting an early start.
According to the Cooperative Institutional Research Program (CIRP) and the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA, the number one reason incoming students decided to go to college was “to be able to get a better job.” Of incoming students nationwide in 2009, 84.3% listed this as a “very important” reason in their decision to attend college.
According to Carnevale (2000), from 1998 to 2008, 14.1 million new jobs will require a bachelor’s degree or some form of postsecondary education.
ACRNA (America’s Career Resource Network Association) states that, “students who make informed and considered career decisions are more likely to graduate from high school and to succeed in postsecondary education. Career information is central to the processes that facilitate informed and considered career decisions.”
Affordability remains a key factor in where students enroll, but the most-cited reason for their decision is the strength of their academic major (Tara E. Scholder, a senior vice president with Maguire Associates).
According to the 46th annual Freshman Survey, a project of the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA, students increasingly believe that college is designed to give them job skills. The survey, the largest of its kind, polled nearly 204,000 full-time freshmen entering 270 four-year colleges and universities last fall. Researchers found that 85.9 percent of freshmen said they are in college "to be able to get a better job." Prior to the recession, freshmen consistently answered “to learn more about things that interest me” as the major reason they pursued higher education.
Creative ways to collaborate with other departments
Career Services offers many ways to collaborate in the full spectrum. Career service members by nature are collaborators. We are an internal and external department. Our constituencies include:
- High school guidance counselors: Part of our success of educating and developing college students is understanding the student demographic we are inheriting. Relationships with high schools are key. Maintaining institutional presence with guidance counselors is critical when recruiting students. Consider having Career Services build relationships with the guidance counselors.
- Prospective students and their families: Typically, families want to see their students at a school that will challenge them, cultivate them, and provide a secure future for them (whether we agree with this or not). Career Services has the opportunity to put ‘calling’ into proper perspective, i.e., primary vs. secondary calling. Additionally, Career Services can help families assess the ‘fit’ between the student and the institution. Including Career Services as part of the admissions process is key component. Career Services can offer career assessments and career counseling for prospective students, helping students to assess what major(s) and opportunities will fit their strengths and interests. Include Career Services in the enrollment marketing materials. Geneva College launched an “even if you don’t know your major, come to Geneva College” campaign, with Enrollment Services highlighting its Undeclared program.
- Underclassmen and upperclassmen: Career Services has the opportunity to develop a full spectrum of programs, services, and resources to engage students at every level of their education. Christian Colleges have an edge in this! We have the opportunity to offer theologically based calling and vocation programming, services, and resources to help students explore their God-given gifts and options. Career Service has the distinct opportunity to partner with academic disciplines in offering professional development services, programs, and resources.
- Parents of current students: Career Services has the opportunity to be proactive with helicopter parents. Career Services can welcome parents into the career assessment and career counseling process. They can update parents on events, programs, and resources, while educating them on calling, vocation, career, and professional development issues. A parent blog can be a good way to partner with parents. We highly encourage a strong partnership with the Parent or Family Relations department.
- Faculty: Career Services has inroads with faculty in ways that many student development departments do not. We have a role in academic advising, providing career resources related to the majors, and facilitating classroom presentations. We recommend an advisory board, incorporating faculty from each discipline, to sculpt a professional development program. Career Services could provide their career assessments as an academic advising tool for faculty.
- Alumni relations: Alumni are the greatest resource for Career Services. Not only can Career Services provide services for unemployed, underemployed, or re-careering alumni, but they can be a great conduit for providing mentoring, internships, and employment opportunities for current students and fellow alumni. We encourage Career Services to be an active part of the alumni council and facilitator of these programs, services, and resources. Through working with the alumni office, alumni can also serve as career mentors to undergraduate students. Find ways to connect younger alumni to the institution by inviting them to campus to share their career story.
- Institutional advancement: Invite members of the institutional advancement program to Career Services staff meetings. Develop a better understanding of the mission and goals of each department. In sharing missions with each other, programming opportunities may be created.
- Student Development: Career Services, most often, is under Student Development. A holistic and developmental approach to career development can be a launching pad for student development partnerships. Career Services can offer strengths and inventory assessments to student leaders, they can be a catalyst for professional development for Student Development departments, and they can co-program with residence halls or other departments in areas of calling, career, professional development, senior transition, and life after college.
- Employers: Employer relationships can benefit the institution in many ways. Career Services typically networks with employers more than any department on campus. Cultivating employer relationships can help provide mentoring, internships, job opportunities, guest speakers for academic majors, on-campus recruiting, town-gown relationships, corporate giving, and matching programs. There are companies willing to give back to the college for providing strong recruiting ties. Employers who are alumni can be a very important relationship to build. At a time when giving financially back to the institution may be a difficult task for young alumni, they can be very instrumental in giving back by sharing internship or job openings in their industry.
- Graduate schools: A significant amount of students and alumni pursue graduate school. Career Services can offer graduate school connections and readiness programs, services, and resources by collaborating with academic departments in identifying programs or preparatory services helpful to students and alumni pursuing graduate school.
- Reciprocity arrangements: Many of the Christian Higher Education institutions have created a Career Services reciprocity relationship. For example, a student attending a Christian college/university will be able to utilize Career Services at Christian colleges and universities around the nation. If a Cedarville University student is looking for an internship in California, they can utilize Westmont College Career Services. This reciprocity helps strengthen the cause of Christian Higher Education.
- Collaboration with fellowship programs, CCCU study programs, etc.: There are many relationships that can strengthen the cause of Christian Higher Education, such as the CCCU study programs. These allow students to specialize their study and experience, making them more marketable upon graduation. Fellowship programs, such as the Fellows Initiative, provide opportunity for students to impact society from a Christian perspective. Students can continue their studies, living and learning environments and have marketplace internships, which help them launch their career.
- Collaboration with Boards of Trustees: Boards of Trustees are interested in many aspects of our institutions. Keeping them connected to students, Career Services can invite members of the board to be speakers in a classroom. Board of Trustees members have unique career stories and can even serve as a career mentors. Also, Career Services can keep them updated on department activities through electronic communication as well requesting their input on programming ideas.
- Collaboration with the Registrar’s Office: The Registrar’s Office and Career Development are key partners in helping students navigate their academic options. Seamless and accurate advising is a must for student retention and satisfaction. The Registrar’s Office is a critical partner in helping students receive accurate class and scheduling information, in addition to helping students understand graduation requirements for each major.
- Campus Ministries: Career services personnel can work together with Campus Ministries to co-teach a class on calling and vocation. As a suggestion, provide a retreat focused on calling, God’s will, and career issues for juniors and seniors. Career Services and Campus Ministries can share the costs of a chapel speaker.
Creative ways to reduce or share costs
Career Services has the challenge of providing services, programs, and resources for all academic disciplines. We highly encourage economical partnerships with each discipline. For example, Career Services may want to co-purchase resources with the Computer Science department. Collaborating with marketing and public relations majors can be helpful in reducing costs. These students can design a marketing campaign for a department as their class project. Career Services is a great place to provide internship experience, providing a stipend or professional development perk at half the cost of an hourly employee. Students can be hired for projects as evening staff, such as residence hall, student center, or fitness center monitors). Career Services can utilize a resident director collateral assignment model. This allows the resident director to serve in various departments, such as Career Services, in addition to their residence life duties. This model helps unify departments, streamline staffing, and prepare the resident director for other career paths. Graduate assistants can serve in a similar manner.
Career Services can do more with less funding by utilizing consortiums. Recruiters are now streamlining their recruiting operations. They are drawn to consortiums, a one-stop-shop of sorts. For example, a consortium of 44 colleges/universities in western PA draws high level employers in a way that the individual schools cannot. Another example of working with consortiums would be to share the cost of a chapel speaker with area Christian colleges for vocational topics. Huntington University is involved with a consortium, along with area schools, to provide an interview experience for education majors.
Investing in career technology will save time and money. There are many content management systems that offer built in job and internship aggregators, which help multiply the amount of opportunities available to students. LinkedIn is a powerful tool to receive job listings. More than 80% of our nation’s employers are using LinkedIn for recruiting. These content management systems are also helpful in saving labor costs, because many employers will post the jobs themselves. With respect to marketing Career Services programs and services, viral marketing is an effective way to reduce costs. Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, and campus LCD systems are all cost-effective ways to market, instead of using expensive color printing.
Career Services can provide an assistantship for those studying Student Affairs in higher education or counseling.
At Huntington University, Career Services and the Accounting Department share costs to support the students attending an Accounting Career Day. These are some other ways that department faculty can meet half way with Career Services:
- Job sharing: using two people as part time employees for administrative assistance;
- Career Services personnel may work four days a week and one day out of their home through technology;
- Career Services personnel may work a 10 month contract, depending on the size of the institution. Make an annual assessment of the use of Career Services; Collaborating with departments around campus for staffing needs can be beneficial to both Career Services and other departments: Departments go through cycles, i.e., financial aid, where heavy staff is needed during peak times while those same staff may be underutilized in the down cycle. Likewise, those down times may benefit busy times in other departments. Geneva College Career Development is utilizing the financial aid staff support during its down time to help with postgraduate data collection in their busy season. This benefits both departments with respect to staffing.
Creative ways to generate or increase revenue
We recommend caution when invoking student fees with Career Services. This cost may deter students from accessing services. We are cautious to endorse corporate sponsored offices, due to the pressure of meeting the employer’s expectations. A restricted fundraising campaign can be a way for alumni and friends of the college to donate to Career Service initiatives. The best financial impact Career Services has is to help admit, retain, and emit students, as mentioned above. Career Services can impact a student’s decision whether or not to attend an institution.
- Invite employers to sponsor an event, e.g., sponsor a table of eight students for the etiquette dinner. Alumni may want to underwrite an event.
- Charge students or alumni a fee for a specific number of sessions.
- Charge a small fee for a parents newsletter. This newsletter would help keep parents connected not only to Career Services but also to the institution.
- Develop fee-based career counseling and career readiness workshops for organizations, businesses, and members of the community. These workshops may be stepping-stones for community members to return to college and complete a degree.