Spotlight for Career Services ProfessionalsJanuary 22, 2014
The economy and its effects on the job market for college graduates, especially those in humanities, has led the career services office at Stanford University to reconsider its approach to its positioning, structure, and delivery.
“This [shift] is consistent with the trends we’ve seen in the field of career services in recent years and the pressures that college students, especially in the humanities and sciences, are experiencing in today’s competitive job market,” explains Farouk Dey, Stanford’s associate vice provost for student affairs and executive director of career services.
Moving from a traditional transactional model of career services, Stanford is currently in Phase I of implementing a career connections model—dubbed Vision 2020—that engages communities of students, faculty, alumni, parents, and employers. The new iteration of the office will still offer traditional services like career counseling, resume assistance, and career fairs, but will have a stronger emphasis on connecting students and alumni to a network of career communities that will serve them for a lifetime.
“There is no question that the field of career services is going through a major paradigm shift,” Dey says, noting some of the past career services models, including placement, career counseling, and networking. “The transformation at Stanford is happening because of the full investment and commitment of our staff and campus partners to offer a stronger program that helps students achieve their career aspirations.”
Based on the recommendations of a steering committee representing diverse groups of stakeholders, the new connections model will focus on three key elements:
“Our model is still emerging,” Dey says. “Implementing all the recommendations from Vision 2020 requires additional resources. We are in the process of requesting more funds from the university.”
Dey says that when the model is fully implemented, students will be better equipped for the job market and the transition to the work force because of the connections they will have made and the targeted support they will have received from staff and mentors throughout their college experience.
This shift will also bring new measures and metrics for Stanford’s career services. Dey says that his office has begun implementing a “net promoter score”—a measure of customer loyalty—and otherwise focus on student awareness of individualized attention and services, and on learning outcomes.
“We are also addressing first destinations and lifelong professional outcomes,” Dey adds. “We partnered with institutional research and the registrar’s office so our survey is now part of the graduation application, yielding a 100 percent knowledge rate. We are also working with our alumni association and using online tools to gather professional outcome data.”
Going forward, Dey anticipates hiring more staff and engaging alumni volunteers, as well as changing the name of the career center, reinventing its web presence, and renovating its facilities to “properly match the spirit of our new model of career connections through communities.” Dey credits his career center staff for the progress they have made thus far and the energy behind Vision 2020.
“Although this model is new for Stanford, some of its elements have been tried at other schools” he says. “Developing career connections seems to be the emerging model of career services in higher education, but each institution has to determine the right approach based on its culture, circumstances, and resources.”
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