Career services has come along way from just the office in the far reaches of campus. In many instances career services are now front and center, as higher education institutions navigate a changing landscape pillared by questions of students’ return on investment, rising tuition costs, and recovering from the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the last few years, institutions have started to emphasize career readiness and what the future of career services is (as we focused on in a recent Symplicity webinar).
States across the country are delegating funding to support career readiness programs, and career services offices have a spotlight on it in a way it never had before. So what can you do with that spotlight? We offer four tips on ways to take that spotlight for a successful academic year and beyond.
Cross-Collaboration Is Your Friend
Faculty have the most touch points with students each academic year. By reaching out to faculty members and opening up dialogue between your office and academic departments can make your job easier. Including faculty in the career readiness process, whether it’s asking if you can do a presentation, providing them with tools to show how their English course, for example, can tie to a future job, can make the biggest difference. Providing small incentives to faculty members for working with you can ensure your office gets touch points with students. This can include a letter for a tenure track application or funding for an off-campus activity that correlates to the coursework and career readiness. Opening those doors can provide your office with more touch points with students to guide them to success in things they are interested in.
Adapt and Provide Students with the Right Support
If you haven't updated your approach in the past few years, in the advent of COVID-19, you could be operating less effectively to modern students. Be sure to have all of your resources on your career page, utilize push notifications through the Symplicity App to directly communicate with students about opportunities, workshops, and career fairs. Plus, be sure to adapt your office to meet non-traditional students such as those who are working full-time, parents, first generation students, international students, students with a disability, and more. For students with a disability, work with your disability services office to ensure you are including this cohort of students to support them for success with an accessible website, setting up alternative career fairs for this cohort, and work with employers to adapt their practices to be inclusive of these students.
Your Office Should Be Accessible and Visible
If your career services office is far from where students gather, it further demotivates them to stop by. You want your office to be inviting and welcoming to all visitors. Having it in an obscure location can be an extra obstacle for students. Since they often have busy workloads it's unlikely they'll go out of their way for a quick question. If moving your office is not an option, bring the office to your students. Set up a table in the main area of campus or promote events on social media to increase visibility.
This not only means on-campus, but in your communication as well. Use personality in your social media posts instead of dull informational text. Experiment with GIFs, videos, and fun imagery to attract student attention. Some clients utilize apps like TikTok and Instagram to do direct marketing outreach to students about their events and career readiness tips. Sharing useful content across a variety of mediums, not just your website can ensure you are connecting with students with reliable resources at all hours of the day, even when you’re not working.
Provide Them with More Relevant Support and Job Opportunities
Work with students and employers to successfully bridge the gap and provide everyone with open communication. When working closely with employers you gain specific information on what they need, which will help you better prepare students. Clearing roadblocks and increasing communication leads students to greater success, particularly when it comes to supporting traditionally underserved students. If they have a platform that not only helps them find an internship, job, co-op, etc., but also supports them with the skills they need to get those opportunities that can lead them to success. More jobs, particularly flooding students with jobs that just aren’t relevant to them and their interests, isn’t the solution to closing the diversity, equity, and inclusion gap. Instead, identify students who need your support and set up advising meetings to kickstart a mentorship with students (You can learn more in our opinion piece from WorkShift Career Services Are A Social Justice Issue for Colleges).
For our CSM clients, this also means utilizing the Pathways module to enable your office to set up structured career plans within your system from general career planning, to completing a certification, or receiving an employability award. Pathways allows institutions to automate these plans, reduce manual work, and easily measure their success.
With Symplicity CSM, universities can empower their career services professionals to help students all within one platform and work in tandem with their university leaders to increase enrollment as a direct result of career readiness and placement as seen through robust reporting and relationship building. Symplicity CSM enables career services offices to accurately track students internship and experiential learning opportunities so that they can see what things a student can count as professional experience to put them ahead of other applicants for a job. Utilizing Symplicty CSM allows career services staff to also advocate for their student’s best interests by seeing what a job’s salary is, what coursework a student is taking that best aligns with available jobs, build connections between employers that are recruiting, and find curated jobs that allow students and employers full transparency.
The CSM platform, that builds the foundation to enable universities and colleges to measure and report on critical KPIs around student engagement and outcomes, streamline student and employer outreach, and run robust NON - OCR. With this critical reporting data, universities can assess their career readiness programs and actively use the data to market for college enrollment. With an enterprise-scale employability platform, universities can leverage CSM to engage students, employers, staff and administrators in the career-readiness process. At Symplicity, we believe the careers center provides critical services and fosters lasting connections with students and employers. As a result, CSM has the largest network of students and employers in the space.