As one of Florida’s flagship institutions and one of the country’s top five public institutions, the University of Florida (UF) has a lot to be proud of. Tasked with supporting career readiness for all of its 61,000 students at its Gainesville, Florida campus and in the university’s online cohort, the Career Connections center sits in the middle of it all with Gator CareerLink. The go-to for “all things career”, Gator CareerLink (what UF calls its system) has been supported by Symplicity CSM software as the university-wide system for 20 years to enhance UF’s ongoing career development initiatives. With Symplicity CSM, the University of Florida’s career center has been able to meet the institutional demands and expectations on career readiness and development, while simultaneously scaling up to better support all of their students through the use of in-depth data to inform decision making.
At the helm of the data-driven decisions is Ja’Net Glover, Senior Director of Career Services at UF, a veteran career readiness director who sees her office and her team as integral to not only her institution’s goals, but to broader economic growth in Florida. The University of Florida and Symplicity partnership, spanning over two decades, has continued to evolve with changes in higher education and workforce landscape.
"It is an integrated effort between everything that happens in our operation, and it truly has allowed us to customize the experience [for our students].”
Senior Director of Career Services, University of Florida
In 2006, Symplicity approached UF to discuss how their system could be enhanced to improve the university’s reporting metrics to empower the institution and continue to make data-driven decisions in its support of students. “Data is so important to us,” said Julia Vollrath, Associate Director of Campus Initiatives & Career Pathways at UF. “We use Symplicity and its data in every aspect of our planning because it’s a centralized system that helps us do our work so much more effectively and everyone is using it.”
Using Symplicity CSM, UF has an abundance of data on student engagement, employers, job postings, and more that helps the center keep a pulse on what’s happening on campus with their students. “We collect every piece of data about our student engagement interactions via Symplicity which is powerful and enlightening for other aspects of campus,” said Glover. “We know when they're coming in, we know what events they’re attending, how they’re engaging with our office, and can track all of that in the system. So, we have this data and information that talks about the levels of engagement with students and employers and it's in one place where we can look year after year, semester after semester, even week after week.”
Centralizing all of its student data within CSM securely enables UF to see its top employers, top hires, job posting trends, how often students are applying to jobs, and peak student engagement times. Additionally, UF sends out a graduation survey that tells the office where students are going to work and what UF’s top employers are. “We can go back with years of data in CSM to see which employer is active with us and already interacting with our students,” said Rachel Esser, Assistant Director of Campus Initiatives. System data is utilized for information reported to the President and Provosts' Offices each year. With the data that UF gathers within Symplicity, the university is able to provide a holistic view of UF’s student body to better tailor programming across campus and to build better employer relationships.
"We use Symplicity and its data in every aspect of our planning because it’s a centralized system that helps us do our work so much more effectively and everyone is using it."
Associate Director of Campus Initiatives & Career Pathways, University of Florida
Knowing where students are coming from, when they engage with the career center, and then where they end up going from that engagement is critical to the work that UF does as a large state institution. At its largest career fair (Career Showcase) in the fall, UF utilizes Symplicity to manage all data and communication aspects of the career fair, including what happens after the career fair ends. For many students, UF’s Career Showcase is their first interaction with the career services office and maintaining that engagement is critical.
To continue their student engagement, UF’s career services office set up an email campaign that directly goes to students once the career fair officially ends. The email thanks the student for attending and provides them with next steps for continuing their career readiness journey. “We had an unexpected amount of opens and clicks from that email,” said Vollrath. “All that came from using the data we pulled from our Symplicity system on how students were using it. Symplicity allows us to communicate directly with our students.” Career Showcase is a two-day career fair event with 300 companies attending and a follow up e-mail is sent to all students who attend. In January 2022, after the career fair, the follow-up email went to 736 recipients, and was opened by 734 students. Another email the following day was sent to 799 recipients and opened by 741 students, a 99% open rate.
A Longstanding Partnership
Whether it’s calling Symplicity’s 24/7 help center or connecting with their own client manager, UF has been able to expand its operations so that they are, “truly in alignment” with having a system “tailored to meet the unique needs of our institution” continued Glover. This also extends to its students who, from day one of enrolling at UF, know what CareerLink is and what tools are available. Additionally, as the demands and expectations on the UF career center (and other offices nationwide) have changed, Symplicity CSM has continued updating to best meet the needs of the institution and its students.
“It is an integrated effort between everything that happens in our operation, and it truly has allowed us to customize the experience [for our students],” said Glover. Since UF began utilizing Symplicity, UF has only continued to expand and customize its system to best serve its student body and support the career center’s mission.