Career services is all about helping students land a job after graduation. By the time your department sees students in their junior and senior years, they already have a major, but not necessarily a career, in mind. Helping students find out what career best suits them is an important task for your career services office as you engage students, build relationships, and put your students in the right frame of mind to jump-start their professional lives.
Take a look at a few ways you can assist students along their career discovery journey.
Not all career assessment tools are created equal. Career services staffers know which assessments are viable and which sources are less than useful. Your staffers can talk to experts in human resources to curate the best online assessments for students to use. Have a sit-down session with individual students to go over an assessment, and see what they think and feel after taking one. When an appointment in the career center is too much hassle, send the career assessment to the student through an email, text message or career services app.
If you have the time, investment, energy to get buy-in from administration, consider making career assessment mandatory for all students. Make it easy for students to take it through their mobile devices. Utilizing all of the tools at your disposal to get an assessment in front of your students will help you enrich the student experience while on their search for a career pathway.
Hosting a career fair takes a lot of effort, yet it’s an effective way to engage students and put them on the right path towards a job after graduation. A career fair once a semester needs an all-out effort from career services, recruiters and other campus departments. Encourage recruiters who attend the event to bring along esteemed alumni who can relate to students and who can show how a degree prepares a graduate for a particular career. Students can ask those alums questions about what it’s really like to work for that company in their field of expertise. Ensure that the career fair experience is enhanced for your students and employers by doing your part in helping employers create an inbound recruiting strategy for your career fair.
Follow up with students who attend the fair to encourage them to maintain contact with recruiters. Do the same on the recruiter’s end.
Career Discovery Days
Several colleges and university host career discovery days, which are special events that give students hands-on, practical advice on what it’s like to work at a specific job in terms of daily duties, experience needed and skills someone must learn.
Des Moines Area Community College hosts a career discovery day between eight to 10 times per semester. Topics include IT, education, engineering and health care. Students who attend these career discovery days hear from instructors and tour employer facilities. Although the events at DMACC are geared for high schoolers, college students can also benefit from events like this.
Harvard’s Graduate School of Design holds a career discovery day so students can be sure they really want a design degree. Students attend an intensive workshop that includes lectures, studio work, workshops and field trips to see what life is really like after graduation. A campus-wide career discovery day can encompass as many departments as needed, with career services acting as the overseeing organization to help students discover their career pathway.
Invite employees of companies to make classroom visits. Developing relationships between recruiters, employers and professors comes into play in a huge way here. Employees can make presentations in front of upper-division classes to demonstrate what it’s like to work at a particular company. Representatives can field questions and answers from students, hang out after the class time is over, and point to resources that students can use to stay engaged with the employer.
Engaging students means reaching out through social media, especially Facebook. Career services staffers can point to resources, companies and content that help students discover if a career is right for them. Don’t just tell your students to find reviews on Glassdoor.com. Put students in touch with employers’ career pages that are geared specifically for college graduates. Link to videos, blogs and articles that show employees at work. Content from actual employees is the next best thing to actually shadowing someone or working as an intern ahead of full-time employment.
Showing students relevant content as part of your overall strategy can help students on their career discovery journey. Consider short videos, webinars, live streams, Google Hangouts or Facebook Live sessions from career services and employers as students consider what career path to follow. These tools are generally low- or no-cost compared to the effort it takes to host a career fair or discovery days.
The career journey is unique to each student, and not every journey ends up with the same results. Figuring out a career doesn’t happen after just a computerized career assessment. It’s the job of career services to nurture students into full-time careers as much as possible by investing in the right tools to make personalized career pathways happen.