The Relationship Between Academic Advisors and Career Services


Students enter college with the hope of finding a pathway into their careers. Many expect that their academic program will unfold in a way that supports this objective. In conversations with academic advisors, students often want advice about how their courses will support their life after school is over.

But traditionally, academic and career advising have been separate. Staff focus exclusively on either a student’s coursework or their job prospects after graduation, with no discussion of the transition between the two. Increasingly, however, students expect more from their institutions as they seek a career-related return on their education investment.

Establishing a Closer Connection

Even within a specific degree path, students have a great deal of choice. In addition to courses, many schools have cooperative education programs and offer credit for workplace internships. While some students may decide to take a certain class because of interest, many seek to develop skills that will help in their later careers. Workforce placement programs, for example, offer the chance to gain industry contacts as well as hands-on experience.

When academic and career advising work separately, students do not receive comprehensive advice with regard to their program choices. While not every student wants to focus on the jobs available after graduation, many do, and they should have access to that kind of advice.

Integrating Careers and Academics

Some schools have noted the need for greater integration between career and academic advising. Carleton University in Ontario, for example, has combined four former student support departments into one. The move was made in order to provide a “holistic” approach to helping students achieve career and academic goals.

Cross-training can help both academic and career advisors serve students. Armed with a cursory knowledge of the opposite realm, advisors can point students in the right direction when it comes to researching options. Career advisors benefit from knowing what undergraduate courses are valued if a student is considering a master’s or Ph.D. program, for example. Academic advisors can tell students what kinds of courses are sought by employers in certain industries.

Working Toward a Common Goal

Advisors instinctively want students to succeed. Part of their mandate is to properly identify student goals and provide guidance on achieving them. The integration of careers and academics creates an easier transition for students from the structure of school to the competitive job market. Students feel better prepared, since schools will have encouraged them to develop relevant and enjoyable skills they can use over the long term.

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