Best Practices

Offering a One-Credit Career Course? Here’s How Your Colleagues Do It

January 11, 2021 | By Kevin Gray

Best Practices
Students attend an online career course.

TAGS: best practices, career development, nace insights, operations,

Spotlight for Career Services Professionals

Saint Joseph’s University recently wanted to convert a zero-credit, optional career seminar course to a one-credit course that would be available, and possibly required, for all sophomore students. Trish Shafer, executive director of the career development center turned to the NACE Community for tips on how other institutions handle their career classes. Here is what her colleagues shared:

Last year, I proposed and got approved to develop a one-credit course that is now required of all sophomores. We began teaching the course this fall. It meets 10 times over the course of six weeks. I developed the Moodle course page, assignments, resources, presentations, and instructor's manual for use by all instructors.

The course is offered both fall and spring. Both interested faculty and staff are welcome to teach a section. I provide training. Everyone gets paid for teaching one credit. The budget for this is more than offset should we retain even just one student.

We offer the course during the first six weeks and then a second block of six weeks mid semester. We had nine sections this fall and are offering seven in the spring. Enrollment is required for the sophomore year. It is now a graduation requirement and [students get a letter grade]. Classes are capped at 12 students, but we are a small school.

The course will need tweaking based on feedback from the instructors: what went well and not so well. Students begin to develop resumes in this course and, as a result, I have now gotten approval to obtain and use AI resume review software. This will lend consistency to the grading of resumes.

-- Caryn Atwater, director, career and personal development, Greensboro College

At the Fox School of Business at Temple University, we have a one-credit career development course that is required for all undergraduates (~6,000 students). This course has been around for quite a while, but we are currently revamping the curriculum to make it more interactive and online friendly.

We use a combination of staff members from our center for student professional development and adjunct instructors. Our course is seven weeks long (half of the semester), so we are able to offer about 20 sections per semester. It is required, and students get a letter grade.

We have been able to update content over time using an end-of-semester student survey on the curriculum/content, which I think has helped with engagement. Each class has 60 students and is typically always full since it is a required course.

-- Brighid Scanlon, assistant director, undergraduate professional development, center for student professional development, Fox School of Business, Temple University

We have four one-credit courses offered each semester. None are mandatory. All are for grades. The class is capped at 30 and taught by our coaches at noon time on different days. Classes include:

  • Discover Your Calling for Freshmen and Sophomores (undeclared students enroll);
  • Internship: Finding, Landing, and Succeeding for Sophomores and Juniors;
  • Navigating College to Career for Juniors and Seniors (an upper division credit); and
  • Navigating College to Career—Liberal Arts (only offered second semester and is a requirement for English majors).

Our courses are 15 weeks in length (we are on semesters, not quarters). We use Moodle along with classroom (or Zoom) instruction. We do not require a textbook, and there are no quizzes or tests, just weekly assignments. The category of courses is CPAS—Career Planning and Academic Success. They are approved and paid for under the liberal arts program/dean, who also manages general education. With new budget restraints, there are discussions if they should be part of the coach’s job description.

[I teach the] upper division credit course. [One important positive] is that several seniors have needed one credit to graduate, and [this] was the perfect course. [The] course is also offered in the summer as a synchronous online course under a different budget. The internship course is also offered once a year, just to accounting students and customized with guest presenters from accounting firms. It is paid for out of the College of Business budget. Approximately 250 students a year enroll in all the courses.

-- Wendy Flint, director of IDEA Center, George Fox University

We have a mandatory two-credit career development course at Rutgers Business School. The Newark and New Brunswick campuses vary slightly. I run the New Brunswick Office of Career Management and the Business Forum Class in New Brunswick. I also manage the mock interview program (a mandatory aspect of the class) for both campuses. This semester, we just completed about 1,500 mock interviews.

Here are answers to some of the questions about our career development course:

  • Are instructors members of your team or do you hire adjuncts (and, if so, what is the budget for adjuncts)?

    Both. We prefer staff, but we have some union and OT issues, so we currently need PTLs also. I teach in New Brunswick (exempt) and the model is the same in Newark.

  • How many courses do you offer per semester?

    We offer one class per semester, three sections.

  • Is enrollment required or optional?

    It is mandatory to graduate.

  • Is grading P/F or letter grades?

    It is letter grades.

  • What issues took you by surprise that you wished you had considered ahead of time?

    We have been running this for years. No surprises! Thankfully, however, the cost of the mock interview pieces is very challenging in these times.

  • Do you cap enrollment per class?

    Not really. Currently, my section is the largest of the six current sections and I have 315 in my class, about 1,500 total.

-- Gino (Eugene) Gentil, director, office of career management, Rutgers Business School

At Kelley School of Business (Indianapolis), we have two required one-credit-hour career development courses: a sophomore-level course called Career Perspectives and a junior-/senior-level course called Career Planning. These courses have been a required part of the business curriculum for about eight years.

Our staff teaches the junior-/senior-level course and we hire adjuncts to teach the sophomore-level course. Staff instructor overload and adjunct cost come from the academic budget instead of the career budget. Instructors are paid the same per-credit-hour rate as other Kelley Indianapolis adjunct instructors. Staff have a three-credit-hour overload maximum a semester.

We offer five sections of the sophomore-level course and four sections of the junior-/senior-level course. Our classes are eight weeks and capped at 64 students in each section. We require letter grades. Note: our sophomore-level course is a prerequisite for application to the business school for non-direct admit students, so students must have a C or better.

Issues to consider:

  1. Course coordinator responsibilities increase once courses become required.
  2. Finding qualified instructors for career development courses that meet both the accreditation and experience requirements can be difficult. We found that a lot of our interested employer partners had subject matter expertise, but didn't meet the academic requirements of our accrediting body (master's degree).
  3. The course will need to be evaluated yearly to keep up with market and industry changes. We make course evaluations a part of our business advisory board meetings each semester.

-- Enjoli Hampton-Brown, associate director of professional development, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis

Our experiential learning courses are anywhere from three credits (in our College of Business) to eight credits (in our health systems management program).

The instructors of the courses range from tenure-track faculty to semi-permanent, but non-tenure track faculty. Adjuncts, as they are traditionally thought of, are not used for these courses. The budgets come from each individual college in which the internship course is housed.

Our general business, mass communications, and engineering students are not required to complete an internship or co-op for graduation, but it is HIGHLY encouraged. Our construction management students must complete an internship to graduate. The health systems management students complete an internship as their capstone; it's essentially their equivalent of an education major completing student teaching or a nursing student completing clinicals.

The courses are letter grades. Our administration has a strong belief in sticking with a letter grade system.

-- Paul L. Rainey, career counselor and coordinator, McNeese State University

At the University of Louisville College of Business, we have a one-credit hour, seven-week course that is required for all students graduating with a business degree. The course is open to any business student with 30+ credit hours.

I and my career coach colleagues will teach a section, and we have business professionals (mostly from company HR departments) as adjuncts to fill our other instructor positions. We have a budget/funding for those adjunct positions.

We currently offer eight sections each semester, with up to 40 students in each one. We offer anywhere from one to three sections during summer sessions. Enrollment is required to graduate. We had been seeing a backlog of students (seniors and second-semester juniors) taking the course, but are now getting to see more sophomores enrolled. We envision our course being best suited for that sophomore/junior level. Our course is graded with letter grades.

I've been in our office for just over one year, so I can speak from my perspective, having revamped our course these past months to be more flexible/online friendly. First, with COVID, our university has decided to do online asynchronous course models, as well as those that are online synchronous, and a hybrid format. We try to give our adjuncts some structure, but also want them to have some autonomy to flex with their expertise. This has been difficult in trying to coordinate across adjuncts, because we have instructors doing each of the models. So, I recommend perhaps only doing one or two formats and planning specifically to those.

The other large issue we've encountered recently was what to include in the course content-wise within the time frame and amount of work for a one-credit course. We recently narrowed our course from nine weeks to seven weeks. We’re realizing that the assignments we had, coupled with the topics we wanted to cover, may be too much—especially since students are having trouble balancing school/other responsibilities during COVID. We’re revisiting this issue to think about what is MOST important to cover, and how can we cover other topics in other programming/venues.

We try to cap our courses. When they were all in person, we capped them at 40. Currently our online synchronous/asynchronous sections are 40 students, and hybrid are capped a half of the room capacities. We’d love our online courses to be capped at 25 to 30, due to the practice-based, iterative nature of our content and assignments...we’ll keep dreaming about that one!

Thomas Teague, career coach, University of Louisville - College of Business

Do you have tips for conducting a one-credit career course? Join the discussion in the NACE Community.

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