Spotlight for Career Services Professionals
Which are more effective: pre-scheduled career workshops or unplanned career sessions in the classroom? That was a question recently asked by a career services practitioner to members of the NACE Community.
The career services office was considering a revision to its career programming model to have a series of pre-scheduled career workshops over the course of the semester instead of doing ad hoc classroom visits when requested by professors.
“The thinking behind this was so that, with a limited staff, we could have control over our schedules and not have to scramble to accommodate ad hoc requests that might occur during our busy times,” she wrote. “However, we are a commuter school of 17,000 students, and I think that classroom visits are more effective for the students since it might be difficult for them to attend a workshop outside of their class schedules and we can tailor our program content to the specific student population.”
The consensus among respondents is to hold classroom sessions rather than doing pre-scheduled workshops. One university with a large population of commuter and nontraditional students reported that its attendance for standalone workshops was “terrible” and took up a lot of staff time to develop or update presentations and then wait around for no one to show up.
“We moved to only doing classroom or group presentations, so it wasn't something optional students feel like they have to work into their already busy schedules,” the career development director noted. “We are also working on getting more workshops, self-guided modules, etc. online so that they can still get the information.”
A large community college reported moving completely away from standalone workshops because of low attendance numbers. Instead, it focuses on developing relationships with faculty and, as a result, its classroom presentations have grown in number. At the beginning of each semester, it e-mails faculty and encourages them to contact the career center early on to schedule classroom presentations. It also developed a menu of services that outlines how it can support their classroom efforts through presentations that align with curriculum, extra-credit assignments, and more.
Others use a blend of classroom visits and free-standing workshops, allowing staff to tailor workshops to faculty interests and needs. One university set a goal of conducting approximately 80 percent of its workshops by request, explaining that when it has specific requests from faculty, student groups, or college representatives, there is greater student participation because the programming is often required or tied to an incentive.
On its request form, the career services office has a list of topics that the requester may select. There is also the option to add additional notes so career services staff can create programming that is completely unique or tailor a program to the needs of the requester.
Another university offers both classroom visits and free-standing workshops because the career development office staff members:
- Believe that students would show up for presentations on topics that were carefully chosen, with concrete takeaways and hands-on learning experiences.
- Were concerned that students in majors in which faculty are not likely to take the career development office up on its invitation to collaborate weren't having the same opportunities for exposure to the career development office.
Last spring, it held a single general-audience workshop for which students had to pre-register; it was filled to capacity. The office added another topic this fall and will be adding another two topics in the spring of 2018. It reports that a good deal of work goes into making sure that these workshops are well-researched and engaging. It also created a staffing model in which general-audience workshops are presented by a graduate assistant, while presentations requested by faculty and student organizations are handled by career counselors, who have liaison relationships built with these specific departments and groups.
Join the discussion about planned workshops vs. ad hoc classroom visits in the NACE Community.