With a new academic year comes the opportunity to incorporate new types of programming initiatives within our respective departments. While creating new programs can be cumbersome, it is important to acknowledge people learn through a variety of mediums. A new option to consider is a Career Development Dialogue Program.
What’s a Dialogue Program?
Dialogue programs differ from a “standard” advising session because of three main factors. First, a dialogue is a deliberative process with the goal of coming to a shared understanding of a complex problem, impacting all who are engaging. Second, dialogue leads to a mutual understanding of differences and finds ways to talk across those differences. Third, people explore ideas by asking questions and sharing one’s own perspectives and experience. Ultimately, dialogue aims to provide a dynamic and constructive space to address complex in real time.
Ok Cool. So how could this work in Career Services?
While many workshops, student advising sessions, and employer events tend to focus on one specific area or outcome, a dialogue allows for a multi-layered process or idea to be explored in a meaningful way. For example, within the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, the first Career Development Dialogue offered in 2017-2018 is entitled “Life, Liberty, & the Pursuit of Happiness: Exploring Equity & Inclusion in the Workplace.” The goal of this dialogue is to explore equity and inclusion from multiple perspectives in the workplace. As students, faculty, staff and employers are open to participating in the dialogue, it allows for a variety of identities, voices and perspectives to be presented. Moreover, it allows students and faculty an opportunity to engage with employers and organizations in real time.
This sounds simple but is it really?
The simple answer is yes and no. Dialogue is an intentional practice; thus, there are a couple of pro tips to make this process successful for your institution: a) carefully select a topic to appease a varied audience; b) think critically of who would actually participate in dialogue; c) define and integrate the overall outcomes of your event through your dialogue design; d) calibrate the participants before starting the event by stating what dialogue is and what it is intended to do for the group; and e) provide a fun and relaxed environment.
However, talking across difference can still be tricky. When engaging a varied audience strong differences can occur—and that is okay. What is important, however, is to ensure participants understand why difference is important and, how they can honor and acknowledge those differences.
Overall, dialogue programs provide another unique opportunity to unpack career issues and problems for today’s students. It allows for complexity to exist and it can lead to deeper conversations in the future. Cheers to a new year and new programs!
This post is part of our #SACareer series, addressing careers in student affairs, careers outside of student affairs, and the work of career services professionals. Read more about the series in Jake Nelko’s intro post. Each post is a contribution by a member or friend of the Commission for Career Services from ACPA. Our organization exists to benefit the careers of career services professionals, student affairs professionals, and anyone supporting students in the career endeavors. For more information about how to get involved with the Commission for Career Services or the #SACareer blog series, contact Paige Erhart at firstname.lastname@example.org.