Spotlight for Career Services Professionals
The career center at Georgia College had wanted to implement a career-planning component into the school’s undergraduate curriculum for several years, but it didn’t have the manpower to provide services to and track the progress of the college’s 5,900 students.
However, when the school’s president approached the career center in fall 2014 about expanding its services, the timing was right to launch the Career Planning Milestones Program.
“He wanted us to ensure that every student interacts with the career center,” explains Mary Roberts, director of Georgia College’s career center. “He didn’t want us to formally change the curriculum, so we created a career milestones checklist. We kept it simple and limited it to the activities we know benefit all students in any discipline.”
Activities by class year include:
- Complete a career assessment.
- Explore career and major options in a group or individual career-planning session.
- Register with Career Connection to access jobs, internships, career and employer networking activities, and more.
- Write/update resume using career center resources.
- Meet with a career adviser for a resume review.
- Create a LinkedIn account and begin networking for internships.
- Meet with a career adviser for a strategic career plan and resume check-in.
- Complete a mock interview with a career adviser during the strategic career plan or during an Employer Mock Interview Day.
- Schedule an appointment with a career adviser for a Senior Check-In Meeting (resume review, strategic career plan, and LinkedIn review).
- Update LinkedIn account for job and graduate school networking.
- Upload final resume to Career Connection for employer resume books.
Student progress is tracked through the career center’s C3M system. In 2016—the Career Planning Milestones Program’s pilot year—the career center focused on the incoming first-year class. Although the pilot was focused on the first-year class and the first milestone, Roberts reports that 59 percent of undergraduates had an interaction with the career center, up from 34 percent the previous year.
“While we saw more than half the campus last year, we counted more than 10,000 participations, showing that many of them interact with us more than once,” Roberts points out.
Other results were just as impressive. For example, 134 sophomores completed resume reviews, a 52 percent increase from the 2015 academic year. And 617 students completed mock interviews through an individual or group session with a career center staff member, an employer visiting campus, or virtually. Seniors and juniors increased participation in the mock interview program by 295 percent and 121 percent, respectively.
Roberts cites partnerships with campus offices and faculty—who make students aware of the program and encourage participation—as key components of its success.
“One of the big changes that also has had an impact is that we have grown steadily from a staff of three at the start of the program to, hopefully, a staff of 12 by the end of this coming summer so we could serve more students,” Roberts notes. “Having more staff to tell students about the services is critical for making this type of program work. If an institution tries this and it has a one-person office, the checklist would be helpful for students, but numbers might not necessarily increase in the same way.”
Another key consideration is that participation is expected, rather than required.
“This move helped us avoid a major curriculum change and allows us to make sure students are using a service because they want to and not because it is mandated,” Roberts says. “Of course, by having faculty require some activities in classes, it may seem mandated to some students, but we know many say that without the class assignment, they wouldn’t realize the importance of using the service.”