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  • Starting, Growing a Peer Advising Program

    April 02, 2018 | By NACE Staff

    Organizational Structure
    A student meets with his peer adviser to seek career counseling.

    TAGS: best practices, operations, spotlight

    Spotlight for Career Services Professionals

    When a career services assistant director asked for help in starting a peer adviser program, several NACE Community members stepped up with information about their programs.

    A career services assistant director who recently started a peer advising program recommended a recent NACE Journal article, The Career Studio: Flipping the Career Center, as the starting point for her program.

    A career director, who uses an identity-based approach that focuses on the student, offered a list of information about her program:

    • Peer advisers receive a small stipend each semester served.
    • Recruitment and selection of peer advisers begins in January and is completed by March.
    • New peer advisers complete observation hours in the spring during which they are selected. They then attend a four-day training before the fall semester begins.
    • The peer adviser group meets weekly in addition to their advising hours.
    • Currently during advising hours, advisers are trained to provide the following services: resume and cover letter reviews, LinkedIn assistance, job/internship searching skills, prep interviews, and basic vocational discernment assistance.
    • In addition, peer advisers host one event per month, e.g., Earthy day (focus on environmental jobs) and prep interviews (for student leaders and strategically held during the time when interviews are held for most student leader positions).
    • Peer advisers do one service project per semester as a group that is connected to their roles. This activity is recommended by a number of scholarly articles that support the role of service in a student's learning experience.

    In addition, the university requires students perform some type of service. Last spring, for example, the group conducted a resume workshop at a home for those who have aged out of the foster care system. Next fall, the group plans to work with a community partner that provides career resources to assist individuals out of homelessness.

    Another career services professional, whose university began a peer advising program several years ago, uses peer advisers to do most of the academic advising, including graduation checks, grad approval, class planning, and course substitutions.

    Peer advisers are trained on career center policies and rules, with a focus on helping the student advisers build and practice competencies in project management, communication, data analysis, effective teamwork, working with diverse individuals, networking, and establishing expectations. All peer advising training is ongoing.

    You can join the conversation in the NACE Community.