KC Spotlight: Student Career Development KC Representative

Jenn McDannold, Student Career Development KC Representative

August 27, 2018

When I was in college, I managed to go all 4 years without stepping into a career services office. I was highly involved on campus and knew my way around Student Affairs. So why didn’t I visit?

Mostly because I had no idea when I was supposed to, what they could do for me and how they integrated into my degree. I knew they helped with putting a resume together, but so did Google – so I chose that instead.

The problem was this: They were not present in anything that mattered to me and I did not think I needed that office. The problem for me, however: I DID need them. Even though I was in Greek Life, a leader in my sorority, member of the Presidential Leadership Cabinet, member of multiple clubs on campus with leadership positions and even cheered for our sports teams – I had no idea what my worth was and I could not translate that into a resume or future career choice.

In the Student Career Development Knowledge Community, we are always asking – how do we stay relevant on a college campus and reach students to teach them the skills they need? With the changing needs of our students, we must also change. But how?

Do we keep hosting career fairs, hoping the eye catching flyer is all we need to attract students? Do we work with businesses to do mock interviews knowing most students on campus have no idea how to sit in an hour long interview with a professional in their field?

The answer is different for each campus – but the overall trend it is to change with the times. Offer social media/image counseling at your next career fair, showing students how to manage their accounts during interview season. Make sure you have a photographer on site to capture their best professional image and future LinkedIn photo. Make mock interviews shorter, like “speed mock interviews” – allowing five minutes with each professional and answering one or two questions multiple times instead of 20 questions once.

Below are a few ways to spice up your Career Services Office. Take a moment to access your own campus and see how you shape up against the changing climate.

How can you create an awesome Career Services Office?

  1. Take a chance on a younger professional as the team lead.

Leadership, in a time of social change and a new developing generation is not about years of experience, but the right mindset and a creative spirit. Don’t limit yourself to applicants who have 10+ years of experience in Career Services, but open the possibilities to a candidate with passion and perspective. With a great leader, round out your team with visionaries. The future of Career Services is not just running the office and being present on campus – it is all about the partnerships, connections to real life skills and the ability to translate college opportunities into a resume. Find people who can make those things happen for students and are coming up with creative ways of doing so.

  1. Collaborate with other offices, you are not an island.

If you have not already, get partnerships with the following offices on your campus:

  • Alumni Relations – connect your students to professionals already in the field and host Meet and Greets for specific fields or professions.
  • Fundraising and Development – highlight amazing students and push for their involvement with events on campus with Board of Trustees members or other influential individuals.
  • Academic Advising – What do these professionals want students to know?
  • Admissions – nothing makes an applicant want to attend like seeing other students involved on campus and loving it.
  • Student Organizations – make sure your most involved students are getting the recognition they deserve and translating those leadership opportunities into a career.
  • Community Services – volunteering and connections in the community are invaluable.
  • Institutional Research – give students an opportunity to research and keep data on your students as you go.
  • Compliance and Risk Management – make sure your internships and off campus events are legally responsible.

  1. Data. Write it down, make it memorable – use it to your advantage.

We already know we live in a world of “big data analytics”. Do not wait for your business partnerships to tell you what they need. Leverage your student data to better understand trends and recruitment needs. Show your business partners how successful your students are with a competency development program. Not sure what a competency development program is? Check out this awesome example at http://360.k-state.edu.

If you do not have the resources or funds for a large system, try these other options.

Making Career Services amazing is not impossible, but it will take great leadership and passion, mixed with a contact update to what your students need. For more resources and trends, check out the Student Career Development Knowledge Community at https://www.naspa.org/constituent-groups/kcs/student-career-development. Are you passionate about Career Development? The Knowledge Community has leadership positions available in Volunteer Central!

Jenn McDannold

Student Career Development KC Representative

[email protected]il.com

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