April 21, 2020 | By NACE Staff
TAGS: technology, best practices, operations, spotlight, coronavirus
Spotlight for Career Services Professionals
Davenport University’s career services offices enjoy strategic exposure on all of its campuses. In fact, these office locations—for example, next to an elevator—allow for enough walk-in traffic that the school does not require student appointments. However, this easy engagement for students has stalled in the virtual space.
“Our offices’ set up is similar to that of a retail shop,” says Shelley Lowe, executive director of career services at Davenport University.
“We have strong visibility on all of our campuses. Students pass our doors easily, and, therefore, we get a lot of walk-ins. Students can easily just walk in and chat with us. However, the coronavirus has taken us out of the sightline of our students.”
Lowe says her team has had to develop ways to become more “electronically visible” to students. The other piece in this pursuit, she says, is the realization that students are getting flooded with email.
“The Davenport career services team has committed to limiting the amount of email students are getting so that they will pay close attention to the important information the university is sending them,” she explains.
“We have been conducting outreach via phone calls to connect with our students. The phone calls are a good way to put a voice to an office and make us real.”
Career services team members are reaching out to Davenport seniors to inquire about their status and offer support. The career services team has leaned several things through its outreach to students.
“The most important thing we have found in these calls is a huge level of appreciation,” Lowe says.
“We are also learning that many of our graduating seniors have chosen to stay working with their internship sites or already have jobs. Some are moving to other states, and others were shocked to hear from career services and realize that we are the element that has been missing in their efforts. My team on the whole reports that it is very fulfilling and worthwhile to connect by phone.”
Once the calls to seniors are complete, career services staff members will reach out to juniors to talk to them about any developments in their career exploration, job search, and internships, and discuss their options. In May, staff will start calling Davenport’s new students to introduce them to career services and detail the ways the office can support them.
Lowe says staff members are learning other interesting things about Davenport students.
“We are finding some very interesting and fun things about our students by major,” Lowe says.
“The nature of their personality types fit well. For example, nursing students always pick up the phone and are all business. Our marketing and business students answer the phone, but others in the College of Business will call you back when they are free. Meanwhile, our College of Technology students tend to not answer calls, but will respond with an email.”
Lowe says staff are prepared to facilitate connections outside of career services, but this probably is a function of the way the Davenport career services staff engage students.
“We don’t ask the students if there is anything we can help them with in terms of career planning,” Lowe says.
“We do ask them is there is anything we can help them with, so this lends itself to fielding questions outside of our realm. We get questions about financial aid and about registering for classes, but we are happy to connect them to the help they need.
“The more people students have in their corner, the more they are going to be committed to the university and plan to stay here. We are here to support our students, and their satisfaction and retention is the bottom line. We don't want students to give up on their goals because they feel like they are alone.
“Our job is to keep a pulse on how they are feeling and meet their needs. It is reassuring for them to hear a helpful and interested voice from school who can support them during this unprecedented time.”
Percent of staff time spent student-facing
Median number of students per professional staff member
Median number of FTE professional staff
Median number of FTE overall staff
Percent of career centers reporting cuts to personnel budget
Percent of career centers reporting cuts to non-personnel budget
Percent of career centers using third-party provider to collect student outcomes
2020-21 Career Services Benchmark Survey Report