Spotlight for Career Services Professionals
Career services offices participating in NACE’s series of Career Services Virtual Roundtables report that their “pressing issues” include a lack of student engagement, especially with appointments. However, they are also seeing email open rates fall. Among the questions they are seeking to answer are:
- How do we balance proactive student outreach with the fact that we often are waiting on others to make decisions before we can provide concrete information? (For example, we want to help with internships, but we are waiting for employers to make decisions.)
- If student engagement falls, will campus leadership think that career services offices are not essential?
To boost student engagement, some career services offices are hosting online coffee hours, albeit with varying success. Some schools are holding coffee hours by class year, such as holding them on Mondays and Tuesdays for seniors, and on Wednesdays and Thursdays for all other students. Another tactic that is gaining traction is asking employer advisory board members to hold student appointments, which can be beneficial for both sides.
Other ideas for engaging students include holding 10-minute Instagram Live sessions, having available waiting rooms in Zoom for “drop ins,” and adding chatbots to career services websites.
Because of the uncertainty surrounding fall recruiting, one participant recommends having two plans for fall career fairs: Plan A for an in-person event and Plan B for a virtual fair. Should conditions improve and allow for in-person fairs, career services offices should consider staggered start times to control crowd sizes. Questions persist around pricing (Will pricing be different for in-person versus virtual fairs? Does a need to attract employers in a down market mean career services offices lower registration fees?)
One participant noted that the fees charged may depend on how much the career services operation needs to generate revenue and/or cover costs. Another noted that while costs may fall, career services may be giving employers access to more students than ever before.
One way to assuage students’ concerns is to communicate with them honestly and be intentional with outreach, perhaps by targeting “still seeking” students. A participant recommended holding a virtual roundtable called, "Summer Internships: What We Know Now" to balance proactive outreach with current uncertainty.
Additional areas of concern are addressing internships—cancellations, late start dates, what to do if an internship is a requirement for graduation, and so forth—and insufficient wifi for students.
NACE recently added additional virtual roundtables to the schedule: See www.naceweb.org/professional-development/2020/roundtable/virtual/career-services/we-are-nace/ for details and to register.