Getting faculty involved in career services can make a big difference in terms of finding students a full-time job after graduation. Professors know a student’s homework load in a particular class and whether a student turns in exemplary work or seems to struggle. They may also have insights about how to best connect with particular students.
Unfortunately, faculty are just as busy as college students. They have papers to grade, lessons to plan and tests to prepare. That’s why incentivizing faculty to support career services is so important. The key is to develop partnerships with other departments on campus and with individual members of the campus community. Here are six ways to do this without spending a huge portion of your budget.
1. Use Benefits Already in Place
Faculty have benefits in place within the university that aren’t tied to compensation. Consider providing extra hours of sick leave for faculty who send students to career services. For example, give four hours of sick leave for every student who mentions the professor’s name on the next visit to your department. These sick leave hours come in handy during winter months, when cold and flu season kicks into high gear.
Everyone loves a good game, and advising students to go to career services can be a winning proposition for faculty. Create an award system with different tiers that give points to faculty members throughout a semester. The faculty member with the highest point total at the end of the semester wins a prize. Games can involve referrals to career services, making social media connections with students and career services, or using a class period to take the entire class on a tour of career services. The reward at the end of the season/semester could be anything from tickets to a big concert in town to dinner out with family or extra vacation days. Give the faculty member a choice in the reward for winning the game.
3. Social Media
Social media is a great way to track someone’s engagement with career services. Faculty can encourage students to use resources posted by your department through social media posts, and then you can see which students like, forward or suggest the post. Advising students through a social media account can earn a faculty member points toward the aforementioned gamification strategy. Set a standard, such as 10 likes for one post, that earns a faculty member a reward or points toward the game. Since many college students reach out on Facebook, consider ways to offer incentives through contests on this social media platform.
4. Merchandise and Gift Cards
Develop connections to your university bookstore and local merchants to offer donations of merchandise as incentives. Think apparel, gift cards, technology or dinner at a restaurant. Does your faculty member need new equipment for a class? Why not provide a laptop for the winning faculty member at the end of the semester? Chances are good that the university has a technology budget, so you can draw from that resource for this particular reward.
Since you can’t necessarily gauge what each faculty member’s interests are, gift cards to a local store are a great way to provide a generalized incentive without spending time trying to figure out what appeals to individual people. Plus, gift cards can come as donations from local merchants, so you don’t have spend cash on the incentive.
5. Special Recognition
Special recognition doesn’t cost anything, and professors love public recognition just as much as any employee. Consider making an announcement in the faculty newsletter. Yes, this amounts to a “pat on the back,” but employee recognition for a job well done can encourage students to reach out to the professor when they see her on campus at a later time.
6. A Night Out
Offer to give a faculty member a night out with her family as a reward for accomplishing certain goals. Think restaurants, a ball game, a local theatrical production, a shopping spree or a local attraction. Spending time with family away from work creates a fun memory for the faculty member while creating an incentive to help career services.
With all of these incentives, the most important thing is to stay within your budget. Developing relationships is the key, and it starts by reaching out to faculty, other departments and members of the community to support your efforts. Not all rewards need to have a monetary value, and you can incentivize faculty to help maintain the pipeline of students coming to career services without breaking your budget.