On Wednesday, February 16 Symplicity hosted an all-star panel discussion on the "Future of Career Services." Over 350 attendees joined our moderator Mark Smith, former Associate Vice Chancellor and Dean of Career Services at University of Washington in St. Louis, for an engaging conversation with: Myrna Hoover, Director of the Career Center at Florida State University; Kathleen Powell, Chief Career Officer at William & Mary; and Ray Angle, Assistant Vice President for Career Services at Gonzaga University. Symplicity was thrilled to convene this panel! Below are some highlights:
Reassessing the Office
The career services office is in a rebuilding phase, assessing what the needs of their institutions are and the bandwidth of their office's staff. "We have to keep our focus on students, but we have to do virtual and in-person. I think the key to moving forward in this world is keeping our focus on the students and focus on the staff, because staff morale is critical in this... the teams doing this work are committed and it is tough." said Myrna Hoover. Hoover also encourages offices to reassess and sunset some programs that don't work anymore, or pull back.
This also includes staying positive. While a lot has shifted in the career services landscape, and in higher education as a whole, Kathleen Powell suggests that career services professionals be "change positive." What does that mean? It means having a growth mindset and scalability of how offices are using technology to expand their offerings and focus on the students.
Have A DEI Plan
Powell recommended that professionals be cognizant of the changes coming to higher education as "career centers are on the move" with higher education under a microscope. This includes not only ensuring your office is staying relevant to the changes in higher ed and work, but including DEI initiatives. Powell encourages professionals to go over NACE's DEI Checklist with their office and leadership and see where you might be falling short and build your DEI goals into your office's strategic plan. This also includes the personal makeup of your office, as Angle added, and if your incorporating DEI initiatives truly in your office and not just promoting it: walk the talk.
At WashU, Mark Smith noted that using Symplicity CSM WashU was able to able to track student engagement their career service office, enabling the staff to proactively ensure they are engaging with all students from athletes, minority students, first generation, to name a few. Using the Symplicity CSM dashboard and robust reporting tools, Powell at William & Mary has been identifying students with a color coding method that focuses on those that need the office's support and figuring out who to proactively reach out to.
In addition, utilizing Symplicity CSM can empower career services offices to not only tell the student story, but the story of the office. "Career services is an institutional commitment and we need to be data literate, and understand the tools available and we need to tell the story. That storytelling is so important to show: this is how we support, this is why we support, this is why we need staffing. And this isn't because we want more, it's because it's the right thing to do," said Powell. With data analytics, you can take the data to the institutional leadership to have a seat at the table. Hoover addressed that understanding student outcomes has become more and more critical to university leadership in order to determine whether an office gets funding or additional support.
Eye on Policy Ahead
Hoover outlined that policy changes on the state level will be on the horizon if Florida is any predictor. In 2021, Florida passed House Bill 1261 that requires every student at all 12 state institutions to register to the career center. That means that career services offices in Florida will be critical to reporting to state leaders that then means institutional funding based on a return in investment. Career services offices will be, if other states follow Florida, under increased pressure to report on student outcomes from where they are going to work, income levels, and much more. Ensuring your office can easily report data and tell a campus story will be increasingly critical has been critical as policies across the country focus on career readiness. For Hoover, this policy change in Florida has meant her office has become a critical puzzle piece for Florida State University.
Engage Across Campus
Take note of Gonzaga and Ray Angle by incorporating faculty with your office. Continuously engage with the faculty that have many touch points with students that can elevate your office so that you can build a strong presence on campus. Learn more about Angle's faculty partnership in a recent piece for InsideHigherEd.
For the full conversation, watch the recording below!
Wish to learn more about how CSM can enhance your reporting, institutional goals, and elevate your office? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.