Earlier this month, author of “There is Life After College” and Washington Post writer Jeff Selingo shared his thoughts on how to improve campus career centers to support students’ post-graduation job prospects. Citing a 2016 Gallup study that found that 40 percent of recent graduates never visited their career centers, Selingo noted that institutions must overcome reservations many students have about the value of career services offerings.
As a longtime advocate for ensuring that students are adequately prepared to obtain meaningful careers following degree or credential completion, CAEL shares Selingo’s conviction that colleges and universities and students would benefit from improved career services. Based on this premise, CAEL has launched work under the theme “innovating career services.”
As the Gallup study notes, only one in 10 business leaders believe that an undergraduate degree alone sufficiently prepares students to handle business demands. Strong career service offerings can bridge that gap by drawing connections between academic outcomes and the skills needed to thrive in the industries students aspire to join.
As the Chicago Tribune reported late last year, Chicago area institutions like the University of Illinois at Chicago, DePaul and Northeastern Illinois University have started to respond to these realities, updating their career services to ensure that students have the competencies that employers say are essential.
CAEL’s work takes a comprehensive approach to career services. Throughout a student’s journey, there should be a series of activities and career education that help them get on the path to success. Accomplishing this within an institution requires a shared vision, analysis of existing strengths, thoughtful change management, consensus building, integrating career development with employer needs and the curriculum, and professional development of advising staff.
In addition to consulting and professional development services, CAEL offers career resource services for colleges and universities to supplement existing programs. Informed by major market research results, the service includes a higher education focused career resource center, regularly updated content, advisor training and one-on-one advising for adults.
Of the possible next steps forward that institutions can follow to improve their career services offerings that Selingo touches on, the first stands out as an especially promising path:
Integrate career planning with the curriculum. Career planning offerings need to be accessible early on in the undergraduate curriculum to help students realize the wide range of career choices available to them.
Selingo’s point is an important one to consider for institutions looking to build pathways between higher education and the labor market. The path to earning a degree or credential can be complicated, particularly for adult students, who must balance additional obligations in pursuit of completion goals. With the direction that proper career service scan provide, however, students are given the insight into career opportunities they need make more informed academic decisions earlier in their academic career, potentially saving them time and money.
As institutions compete for increasingly career-minded students, it’s vital that they adapt their career services to meet students’ evolving expectations—and the expectations of employers. CAEL’s Career Resource Center bridges students’ academic achievement and career goals, placing them on the right path to earning rewarding careers.