Spotlight for Career Services ProfessionalsOctober 10, 2012
To get students more engaged in career planning, the staff of Willamette University’s career center created a formal program and enlisted the help of the school’s faculty to promote and incorporate it into their classes.
Called the Career Roadmap, the program asks participating students to complete career-focused assignments in four categories—“My Profile,” “My Credentials,” “My Qualifications,” and “My Brand.” The overarching future goal of the program is to ensure that "every graduating senior will have a career plan."
Jerry Houser, associate dean and director of Willamette’s career center, says the key to the program’s success is partnering with faculty to deliver it.
“We cannot meet this audacious goal without the cooperation of our faculty," Houser says. "We now have the technology and resources to make it nearly effortless for faculty to get students to do career planning. Rather than begging or bribing students to use [the career center’s] resources, why not just have all students in all majors be assigned online career-planning tasks by professors? Then it’s required and it gets done.”
Following are the steps Houser and his team took to develop Willamette’s Career Roadmap project:
“In addition, we e-mail incoming students and parents inviting them to use the Career Roadmap to create the student’s first college resume,” Houser says. “Fifty percent of students in the incoming freshman class completed their resumes before they even arrived on campus.”
For now, 12 of Willamette’s 40 academic majors now are participating in the Career Roadmap program, with others indicating interest. The career center saw an increase in the number of students attending presentations incorporating Career Roadmap assignments from 55 in 2009 to 400 in 2011. And from the 2009-10 to the 2010-11 academic years, there were increases in use of career-related vendor services (66 percent), the career center website (26 percent), and Willamette’s alumni network (15 percent), and in participation in informational interviews (36 percent).
“This is an easily branded vehicle that drives students to complete essential career tasks,” Houser says. “It’s easy to use, easy to understand, and elegant enough to create little or no resistance from faculty, staff, or students. It uses online technologies that virtually everyone can access. Any university can use this basic model to craft its own career-planning program.”
For more information about Willamette’s Career Roadmap program, e-mail Jerry Houser at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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