Spotlight Online for Career Services Professionals, August 18, 2010
In the fall of 2009, Texas Christian University (TCU) released iTCU, a suite of apps that included an interactive campus map, directory, course information, events calendar, news, athletics updates, and a library access. There was, however, no app that addressed career topics.
As the associate director of marketing, Susan Nethery thought the app seemed like a great way to engage student and alumni audiences, and her belief was bolstered by research that identified iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad as the third most popular platform to access the university’s web site.
“To me, this showed that a TCU career app would be a great vehicle to reach a large audience,” Nethery says.
In her mind, Nethery envisioned a student waiting to go into an interview and instead of reading a magazine in the lobby, the student was holding her iPhone and reviewing interview questions using the TCU career app. And, she saw an alumnus who wanted to brush up on his dining etiquette before an important business dinner take out his phone to see the pictures of table settings and wine glasses using the career center’s app.
“Our students are increasingly using smartphones like the iPhone as their main communication device to get their news, communicate with friends and family, play games, find restaurants … you name it and there’s an app for it,” Nethery says. “I want students and our alumni to look at career services and see that we are keeping up with the communication vehicles in which they want to seek out and receive information. It’s one more way—in addition to advising, events, Facebook, our web site, and classroom presentations—to assist them with their career needs.”
She explains that the app, which will launch in September, will allow students and alumni to access information on their own time, without making appointments or being in front of their computer.
Nethery secured the approval of her executive director, then that of the vice chancellor of marketing and the executive director of technology resources to make sure that the developed app would be incorporated into iTCU.
She selected a development firm to work with and determined the functions of the app. Once the proposal for time and cost was approved by TCU, Nethery sent the outline of the app and the content to other associate directors in the career services office to get their input.
There were ongoing meetings with the development firm to tweak the actual look and feel of the app, and the firm built the app and converted the text Nethery designated accessible through the app.
“Like anything, there were a few adjustments that had to be made along the way, but everyone worked very collaboratively,” Nethery says. “I was careful to make sure that all the internal stakeholders were all kept in the loop so that the career app had the same branding as iTCU and communicated consistent messages. It is very important that this app is seen as an extension of iTCU and as another way TCU helps its students and alumni achieve a competitive advantage.”
Developing the app’s outline and writing the content for it took about four weeks to complete. The programmer’s work was completed in approximately five weeks.
The app will have six primary sections—interviewing, dining etiquette, business etiquette, upcoming events, videos, and about career services:
- The “interviewing” section is the most expansive, with information on how to prepare and what to do after the interview, and more than 50 interview questions that may be asked by employers. Each question has a description of key items to weave into responses, plus actual response examples.
- The “videos” section has more than 75 videos that are three- to four-minute minute clips from all TCU career services’ workshops and events last year. Topics include LinkedIn, internships, salary negotiation, interviewing, jobs, and managing money.
- The “about career services” section links to the office’s Facebook fan page, web site, and jobs data base, in addition to giving information about locations, hours, and contact information.
- The “business etiquette” portion gives tips on social media use and networking, and discusses how to create a personal pitch.
- The “dining etiquette” portion covers items such as table settings, whose bread plate is whose, the different types of wine glasses, and ordering protocol.
- The “upcoming events” section is a calendar of career services events.
There also is a “favorites” option that adds pages users designate as favorites to a folder so in the future, they can easily access information.
iTCU is free for anyone. The career services app will be a part of that overall app that anyone—not just TCU students and alumni—will be able to download from the iTunes App Store. After launch, the career app will be included in the iTCU suite whenever anyone downloads it from iTunes. People who have already downloaded iTCU will automatically receive an update on their devices so the next time they open iTCU, they will see the new career icon that they can then click on.
“This career app puts the information at the fingertips of students and alumni when it is convenient to them,” Nethery says. “TCU is committed to providing a world-class university experience 24/7, and this is just one more example of us being on the forefront and delivering on that commitment.”