Effective Ways to Engage Student Veterans in Career Services

May 4, 2021 | By Kevin Gray

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TAGS: best practices, career development, diversity and inclusion, nace insights, operations, veterans,

Spotlight for Career Services Professionals

Career services can play a vital role in helping student veterans realize their goal of meaningful employment after graduation, says Jennifer Renee Pluta, assistant director of veteran career services (VCS) at Syracuse University’s Office of Veteran and Military Affairs.

In a recent NACE Blog, Pluta, who is also a Master Sergeant in the U.S. Army Reserve, offered a good number of suggestions for delivering effective career services to student veterans.

“To engage effectively with student veterans, career services should engage early and often by supplying and communicating about opportunities and initiatives that are student veteran-centric,” she writes.

Some of Pluta’s recommendations include:

  • Offering student veteran drop-ins and appointments—Set aside dedicated times to connect with student veterans for drop-ins and appointments. These times can be weekly and exclusively for student veterans to address their career-related questions. Setting aside dedicated times to see student veterans helps to create awareness of opportunities available to them. Assign a staff member with military competency to work with the institution’s student veteran population. As student veterans are typically nontraditional and may have family commitments preventing them from being able to make a daytime appointment, having evening appointment times available or providing for appointments by phone will be of significant value.
  • Providing communication channels—Create a weekly newsletter to communicate events, opportunities, and resources to student veterans in support of their career pathways. This focused newsletter will engage student veterans and provides a means for career services to communicate its initiatives. Another straightforward way to communicate with student veterans is to create a listserv to send out information on events and opportunities. This can also help create brand awareness of career services among student veterans and make them aware of the resources available to them.
  • Having a committed web and social media presence—Devote a section on the career services webpage to online resources for student veterans and to encourage them to take advantage of career preparation opportunities. For the latest information on job/internship postings, career fairs, professional development opportunities, and events, set up a Facebook page to engage student veterans. Using social media in conjunction with other communication tools will encourage student veteran engagement.
  • Offering veteran-focused events and programs—Create thoughtful student veteran-focused events and programs to support their career ambitions. For example, VCS at Syracuse offers career prep luncheons, professional development days, a one-credit career development course for veterans, and more.
  • Providing employers with a student veteran resume book—Three times a year, VCS provides more than 300 employer partners with its veteran resume book, which includes the resumes of student veterans who are seeking a job or internship.
  • Holding student veteran and employer networking receptions—Held twice a year during career week, the Student Veterans & Employer Networking Receptions are an opportunity for student veterans to network with employers that are looking to hire student veterans for jobs and internship opportunities. The receptions provide an opportunity for student veterans to build their network with industry leaders and explore career paths. These receptions are invite-only to employers committed to hiring veterans.
  • Taking career immersion trips—The goals of career immersion trips are to provide student veterans with an opportunity to gain a real-life understanding of the careers, culture, and inner workings of the selected city. Student veterans also have the chance to attend a networking reception to connect with employers/alumni, take part in group dinners hosted by supporters of student veterans, and take part in employer tours to learn about employers that hire and support veterans.
  • Hosting dedicated hiring events—Hiring events focused on vets, such as employment fairs, provide student veterans with face-to-face opportunities to meet with top employers. These hiring events may be in your back yard or in a major city within driving distance.

For more information, see “Delivering Effective Career Services to Student Veterans.”

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