How Will Your Office Handle Drop-in Career Advising?

July 24, 2020 | By NACE Staff

Best Practices
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TAGS: best practices, coronavirus, nace insights, operations,

Spotlight for Career Services Professionals

As COVID-19 closed college and university campuses, career services staff took to Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts, Blackboard, and their CMS systems to connect students to career development and job-search resources and services virtually. Now, staff look to fall and how they might prepare for drop-ins in an in-person or virtual environment. Here are several ideas:

  • In-person drop-in hours—During the academic year, Missouri State University traditionally has in-person drop-in hours between noon and 4:30 p.m. Students drop in to have a student peer adviser review cover letters, resumes, or personal statements for graduate school applications. We were exploring establishing drop-in hours with graduate assistants and full-time staff available when we shifted to online services due to COVID-19. I will be following information on in-person hours as we hope to establish that at some point when it is safe.

    Online drop-in hours—We began hosting these one hour a day and students have not been taking advantage of it this summer, but I think they might this fall. This is how it is set up: We established a Zoom account through the university that is tied to the career center email so that no one person owns the account. I set up a recurring meeting, with a waiting room and no password. All the career resource specialists are listed as co-hosts and have been given permission to share their screens. So that we can track participants and send them a very short follow-up survey, we have created a Virtual Drop-In event each day in Handshake. We don't like students having to click in Handshake and then open an email with the Zoom link and telephone numbers so they can call in, but it is easy to capture participant data. We have an internal office Outlook Calendar where Virtual Drop-In is a recurring event. That recurring event has the link and password to get into the room and the name of the person hosting. We have dropped in on each other and shared screens, both as hosts and as participants, to make sure the technology works, and it does.

    Jerri Arnold-Cook, career resource specialist, Missouri State University – Springfield Campus

  • Our team does something a bit different to cover the random questions and those dropping in. We don't have a special name, but we internally refer to it as “urgent care.” We have a general phone line that can round-robin to any team member when they are logged in to the phone system. Each team member is assigned a day, and on that day, they cover the phones and drop-in appointments. They do not accept appointments or meetings on those days. There are two coaches assigned to each day, and we have a schedule that shows what day you cover someone’s lunch hour. If the coach takes a day off, it's their duty to find coverage. On the day they cover phones, they aren't always on calls, so they can plow through resume reviews, follow up on emails, and do research. Some staff will have their Zoom room open so they can just tell someone to jump in if the person on the phone needs to see what they are talking about. This prevents anyone else having to manage a Zoom room, phones, etc. This won’t solve the face-to-face component, but maybe it could help.

    Christine Muncy, associate vice president of career services, American Public University System

  • At Purdue University’s Center for Career Opportunities, it is called BoilerConnect. It is "Student Success" software (Note: I still work for Purdue, but I work for the Krannert School of Management.) It tracks students’ progress, coursework, and so on, and also allows them to make appointments. We typically keep the "drop-in" feature turned off as we encourage making appointments with staff; however, in the time of COVID, everything changes.

    Claudine Meilink, associate director of corporate outreach, Purdue University – Krannert School of Management

  • We are grappling with the same issue. We have students (career ambassadors) and graduate students trained to run our drop-in hours. These hours are limited to 10- to 15-minute appointments to review resumes, LinkedIn, and the dress closet. This fall, we are planning on having one student handling in-person drop-ins and one student handling virtual drop-ins. The student handling virtual hours will come to our office space to do the virtual hours. This will help with supervision and confidentiality. They are using a generic Zoom room created for our center. This Zoom link will be published with our express hour advertisements. I think it's a good plan, but we won't really know until it takes effect.

    Tracy Montoro, assistant director of the career center, Shippensburg University

Join the discussion and share ideas from NACE members in the NACE Community.

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