When looking at the theme for this month’s #SACareer blogs – “Rethinking Career Services” – I immediately think of the exciting changes taking place in my own office. At the University of Virginia, we have spent considerable time and energy creating career communities to deliver customized programming, specialized advising and strategic partnerships.
Similar to the model recently initiated at Rutgers University, the U.Va. Career Center has restructured and reimagined our delivery of career services to match the major-does-not-equal-career philosophy. Under the career community model, students are encouraged to explore careers in all industries to find the best fit for their interests, rather than focusing on what they “should” do based on their major. Having successfully piloted one community, Creative Arts, Media and Design, last year, we were confident launching 5 additional communities this fall – Business, Education, Engineering, Science and Technology, Public Service and Government and Law. Over half way in to the fall semester, we have reached thousands of students via programming, advising, and communication.
When speaking with colleagues about the new model, we often get several question about how and what we do. Below is a snapshot of some of the more common questions I get as an advocate for the career community model:
What is your staffing like?
We are fortunate to have significant support for professionals and administrators across campus, which has led to an increased staff size. Currently we have 8 “community builders” – professional counselors assigned to a community. While we focus on developing our specific community, we are still general career counselors and meet with all students. Aside from our community builders, we have two additional career counselors and two graduate assistants to see students and a full time staff member devoted to community programming.
How can I implement this at a smaller school?
Before joining the team at U.Va. almost a year ago, I was actively implementing a similar model at my previous institution, Washington and Lee University. At W&L we had a staff of 4 full time professionals, so I can relate to the small school feel. While the effort was on a much smaller scale at W&L, it was still impactful. We started with a department liaison model to help staff build their knowledge in different industries and develop relationships with faculty and students. From there, we created a web presence and developed relationships with targeted employers to bring variety to our on campus recruiting. Additionally, we set aside industry specific drop in hours and began to deliver targeted programming.
What kind of work did it take to get it started and what do you continue to do?
Much of our past and future “behind the scenes” work revolves around learning more about our particular industry – from reading and researching to meeting with alumni and employers. Additionally, we share with each other to educate our own staff.
What types of programs and services do you offer?
While there are some programs and resources that span all communities, there are also several that are specific to certain communities. Consistent resources and programs include weekly drop in hours, weekly communication and a consistent web presence. Programming runs the gamut and is unique to each community. Some highlights include: Consulting Symposium, Boutique Finance Night, Alumni Meetups, Federal Resume Workshops, How To Teach Abroad, Global Development Career Day, Cultivating Your Online Portfolio and Acing the Technical Interview.
Our staff loves to share resources and ideas! If you would like to learn more about our model and how we have implemented it, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
For more information on the changes taking place at Rutgers, U.Va. and other schools, check out the below articles and resources:
NACE Journal, February 2015, “Developing the Industry-Centric Career Cluster Model”
October is devoted to Career Hacks, rethinking career services. This month, professionals will post innovative ideas, exciting changes, and inventive new practices in the field.
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 Cristina Lawson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
> BONUS <
Podcast With Mallory Bower on Career Services and Job Search Tips