Central New Mexico Community College (CNM) is the largest community college in New Mexico, providing a premier and affordable education. Since its inception, CNM's career-technical programs in business, health, technologies, and trades have continually been redesigned to provide students with the most current and relevant skills needed by local employers. CNM is New Mexico’s largest undergraduate higher education provider with enrollment of nearly 20,000 students across five campuses and four additional training facilities. The college ranks first in the nation in number of associate degrees awarded to Hispanic and Native American students, and second in the number of associate degrees and certificates awarded to all students. CNM is also a federally recognized Hispanic-Serving Institution.
As part of the vision of “Changing Lives, Building Community,” CNM is committed to providing students with pathways that lead to high-quality jobs that also serve the workforce needs of the economy. CNM provides work-based learning opportunities during students’ training and education to correlate with getting a good job when students complete and/or graduate.
CNM’s Division of Workforce and Community Success is the central hub for student employment, work-based learning, and career and job placement services at CNM. “Work-based learning and employment strategies must make sense for our students and their unique needs. If the options do not make sense for our students who are balancing work and family responsibilities, then we are not doing our due diligence to make sure that there is a variety of meaningful career readiness services and programs available to them,” said Joy Forehand, Central New Mexico Community College’s Interim Chief Workforce Development Officer.
To support its campus-wide workforce strategy, CNM has leveraged Symplicity CSM for over 10 years to enhance its career services operations by centralizing and supporting its workforce-related activities.
Centralized Workforce Development Support
CNM utilizes CSM for employment opportunities, links to career services resources such as workshops, and job placement. However, recently CNM wanted to make the most of the full functionality of the system as the institution has increased its work-based learning opportunities, in particular its internships. The implementation of the CSM Experiential Learning (EL) module by the Workforce & Community Success, Work-Based Learning Team became part of CNM's project plan to centralize some of the work-based learning approaches for students, employers, faculty, and staff.
CSM’s EL module streamlines the entire process for the staff by incorporating student interest forms, learning objectives, placement forms, approval workflows and mid- and final evaluations for employers and students. For placements, the EL module has “helped the Work-Based Learning Team facilitate the process and connection between students, employers, and faculty, track the internship in various stages, and then collect data about internships to inform our strategy going forward,” said Forehand.
"[The CSM EL module] helped the Work-Based Learning Team facilitate the process and connection between students, employers, and faculty, track the internship in various stages, and then collect data about internships to inform our strategy going forward."
Interim Chief Workforce Development Officer, Central New Mexico Community College
Data and Reporting
Since launching the EL module in April, Forehand and the Work-Based Learning Team have been able to enhance the data collection around internships across the college. With Symplicity CSM’s customized dashboards, the team is able to quickly pull real-time data on all aspects of internships, including the number of internships, employer and worksite information, percentage of internships for academic credit, duration, and program/field of study. The team also uses the module to capture the qualitative feedback from students and employers with the mid-term and final evaluation forms.
Employers through CSM are now tied through workflows helping the office see which employers are hiring students from CNM for work-based learning internships, co-ops, job shadowing, job training, and more. For placements, the EL module has “been a gamechanger… we are able to watch the connection happen, track it, and then collect data on that experience,” said Forehand. Students and employers are able to come out with learning outcomes through the EL system, submit reviews and evaluations through a dropdown menu in the system.
The team also uses the module to capture the qualitative feedback from students and employers with the mid-term and final evaluation forms. With the data, Forehand and her colleagues can see where the gaps are in their outreach to employers.
Paid Internship Management
As an institution, CNM strives to have paid internships available to students to the greatest extent possible because many CNM students may not be able to afford to take an unpaid internship. The Work-Based Learning Team uses the EL module to manage a process flow to where if an employer is unable to pay wages for the internship, the team is able to connect the employer and student to various internal and external funding streams and programs with community-based and public workforce partners to help explore options for a paid experience for the student.
The Work-Based Learning Team uses the module not only for the management of the process and referrals to funding and programs, but to also track eight different funding sources/programs, the various eligibility requirements, and the hourly wages. Tracking the funding options for paid internships has opened the door to a more strategic and collaborative approach with employers and external programs including those under the Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act and the local workforce development board.
CNM incorporated the partnership with Symplicity CSM and the implementation of the EL module into the plan to expand work-based learning opportunities and increase the options for paid internships across the college. By centralizing resources, streamlining processes, and embracing data-driven strategies, CNM is setting new standards in student workforce success and building a brighter future for its diverse student body.