If your vision of a college career center involves an office located on the edge of campus where you can make an appointment, take a test and ask about internships, it may be time to shift that image into the future. Today’s career center can increasingly be seen throughout every aspect of campus, from the curriculum itself to the school’s website.
To get an idea of how the university career education experience is emerging -- and what it will be like in the future -- College Confidential sat down with Jeremy Podany, CEO of The Career Leadership Collective, a solutions group helping university administrators and career leaders weave career services into the institutional fabric.
College Confidential: Can you describe the type of shift happening in university career centers?
Jeremy Podany: The idea of preparing students for the future needs to be everywhere at the institution. It’s no longer just a “come see us in the career center” model that’s going to work to effectively prepare all students. It’s more about what the entire university can do to prepare students for their futures. The career center can stimulate that by thinking differently on a few things. One is the philosophy of “career education everywhere.” The second thing is that the school has to embrace that there’s a big career focus on campus -- students are talking about it all the time. The career center staff members then become facilitators -- trainers of faculty and staff -- to be a hub of advocating career across campus. That’s a huge paradigm shift in the way career services has been done in the past. From an office to a village.
CC: What are some of the innovative ways that schools are boosting their exposure throughout campuses?
JP: If you think about a student choosing a major, they get their entire curriculum for the four years up-front. There should also be a career education curriculum -- it should be online and accessible 24/7 so students can learn core competencies on demand: How to explore their skills, prep for a job fair, land an internship, negotiate salary, etc. The entirety of what’s in a career counselor’s brain needs to be outlined and online, with a variety of five- to seven-minute videos sharing helpful information.
In a very sophisticated way, we have to connect career to curriculum. The classes are the thrust of the institution, they’re where students go -- the one requirement of education -- so what we’re seeing now are really smart movements where career center staff and faculty are working together. We’re seeing faculty career champions across campus who are creating career reflection assignment libraries so other faculty members can access the information. They’re creating classroom activities tying the learning to what students may want to do for a job or internship. Faculty members care about their students’ futures and are already having career conversations, but more intentionality and thoughtful initiatives go a long way toward helping all students. This is an institutional effort. We’re seeing these collaborations happen more than ever before.
CC: Prospective students often want to know university job placement rates -- are more schools beginning to share that information online?
JP: Career centers are getting much better about sharing next destination results, although schools shouldn’t necessarily focus only on placement in first jobs out of college. We are helping universities increase readiness for their careers, and measure career mobility over time. American University is an example of a school that has a great portal sharing career outcomes information with its We Know Success site. Loyola Marymount is another school that has an excellent web-based resource for real-world student outcomes.
CC: Do you see this trend taking hold more strongly across the US?
JP: I think it’s the most exciting time we’ve seen in career services in 30 years -- career education as a campus commitment and priority is an absolute real-deal trend and the interest in this subject is growing in a way it never has.
CC: What can students do to get the most from their schools’ career resources?
JP: Students should be asking for connections from the Career Center. They should ask how they can be connected to companies and alumni. Students should also seek experiences that help lead to career success. If you look at a model like Endicott College, which has a four-year internship program, it’s clear that colleges have the ability to prepare students for career success. When it’s not mandatory, students should say “How can I get experience? I just can’t sit in a classroom and absorb knowledge -- I want to experience my future!”