Spotlight for Career Services Professionals
Staff members in the Yale University Office of Career Strategy were looking to get a better return on the investment of time and energy it takes to create, arrange for, and hold traditional workshops. Their solution? Creating short animated videos to cover introductory workshop topics.
“Hosting in-person workshops can be incredibly time consuming,” says Stephanie Waite, senior associate director of the Yale University Office of Career Strategy. “Between content development, advertising, scheduling space, conducting the workshop, surveying participants afterward, and making notes and adjustments for the next iteration, career office staff might spend three to four hours on any given workshop.
“Pairing that with the potential disappointment of low turnout from students who are digital natives—and, therefore, consume information in electronic formats—makes for ineffective programming.”
In-person workshops also tend to lean to the side of general or introductory, leaving participants with unanswered, nuanced questions.
“Providing this introductory workshop material in a different format—one that allows users to determine how much they want to consume within their own timeframes—will give them the information they need before following up with office staff with their specific questions in one-on-one meetings, drop-in hours, or e-mail exchange,” Waite explains.
Office of Career Strategy staff created all of the animation for the videos using software that Waite says was easy to learn quickly and very user-friendly. Teams of advisers brainstormed ideas around storyboarding and choices for animation, and then used the software to actualize their plans.
Waite explains that choosing to produce animated videos, as opposed to live-action videos, was also strategic.
“Animated videos allow creators to display a diversity of characters and objects, and defy the laws of physics to demonstrate abstract concepts,” she notes.
Animated videos can certainly replace in-person workshops if an office’s workshop delivery method is more focused on information sharing (lecture style) than interactive, Waite explains.
“We’ve removed in-person workshops that cover the topic areas addressed in the animated videos, ranging from resumes and cover letters to networking and interview preparation,” she points out.
“We found that our staff was delivering about 50 minutes’ worth of content in these workshops, and then fielding individual, highly specific, questions from audience members, which were more appropriate for one-on-one advising appointments.”
In most cases, Waite adds, the highly specific questions were keeping staff at workshops well after the end time, which interfered with other commitments.
She offers several tips to her colleagues for creating short animated videos to address introductory career services topics:
- Capture your best advice—There are likely many statements, words of wisdom, or pointed advice that advisers give students on a regular basis. Spend time thinking about what those points are, how they are shared (tone, time, and place), and how they can be said concisely for a script. Doing so will make for a strong foundation for the animated videos.
- Work together—Creating strong, effective animated videos is a collaborative process. Have multiple staff members review scripts ahead of recording voiceovers, and have them brainstorm ideas on storyboarding and animation together. This will ensure that the message sent out to the audience will be consistent with the office’s overall approach on the career curriculum, and that the most essential pieces of advice are shared widely.
- Give the audience what they want—When crafting the script, capturing the audience’s attention is key. Make sure to:
- Clearly state the problem he/she is experiencing as it relates to the topic (“Curious about what makes for an effective resume?”);
- Show expertise or ownership of the advice (“At Yale’s Office of Career Strategy, we’ve found…”);
- Express the top points/pieces of advice on this topic; and
- Give the audience specific actions/next steps to take at the end of the video.
“Overall, the scripts crafted for the animated videos should be carefully written, and only the most salient points of advice should be shared,” Waite says. “This allows the audience to access the most important points of advice on these topic areas so that they can use their time in one-on-one appointments more effectively, getting their specific questions answered in an appropriate setting.”
Stephanie Waite will present “Animate Your Advice: Transforming 60-Minute Workshops to 3-Minute Animated Videos” at the 2018 NACE Conference & Expo.