With April comes the start of the baseball season. I turn away from the TV and wonder if I can hit my own first pitch. I am reminded of my competencies when my supervisor challenges me to advise and help, and then assess. Have I struck out already? Sure, my first assessment comes back with some reviews that break my heart, just like so many hometown papers can turn baseball’s faithful blue.
I must remember that I am not the “losing team.” I have made it here for a reason. Breathe deeply, get back on the mound and practice again…and again. I propose a very rough model to help first-year grads working in career services to dust off their cleats and make it through their first advising assessment.
The C.A.R.E.E.R. Model for Advising Assessment is a reflection on what helped me regain confidence after initial mistakes in advising students at an early stage of my pre-professional career. No pre-professional wants to know that a student viewed them as “scattered and unprepared.” This criticism stuck out in my first assessment. However, it was buried in a bevy of positive reviews. Now, the first cycle through the C.A.R.E.E.R. Model begins.
Cancel out the negative thoughts. The students you serve have known you for a few months and you can be certain that their criticisms of you are not personal. Getting past criticism is essential to your ability to be a better practitioner.
Assess, but not in the formal sense. What about a negative review has you upset? Clarity will help you make specific changes when you get to step four.
Reconcile the good with the bad. One student noted, “I felt confident about my application materials and was ready to apply to several internships after [my interaction with Dale].” It is a disservice to yourself to not recognize that some students walked away feeling very positive about your advising.
Execute a meaningful after-action plan. Use the data from your assessment in an objective manner. This step, in my opinion, is the most important, because it relies so heavily on the first three steps and sets the foundation for the last two. This is your opportunity to dig deeply into the formal assessment. Use the results diligently and record what should be done better or the same next time.
Exchange your plan with someone else. This does not have to be your supervisor, but it should be with someone with experience in career services. Offer them your concerns and celebrations and ask them to help you do better next time. Positive reinforcement and objectivity can go a long way.
Repeat. Every assessment I have done has lent itself to this model. For me, there is always some good and some bad. Opportunities to be diligent, think critically, and to collaborate abound after my assessments. I hope the C.A.R.E.E.R. Model for Advising Assessment helps you handle any curve ball and hit it further out of the park on each consecutive advising session.
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 Jake Nelko at email@example.com.