Spotlight for Career Services Professionals
During a recently completed renovation of the building that houses The University of Tampa (UT) Office of Career Services, Tim Harding used the NACE Professional Standards for College & University Career Services to influence the design of the new office.
“The office was being renovated and expanded, so we had the opportunity to completely change the ‘footprint’ to reflect guidance from the NACE Professional Standards and the learning environment for students of today,” explains Harding, UT’s associate dean of career development and engagement.
UT’s Southard Family Building—home of the university’s career services office—was built in 1962 and has housed various administrative and academic functions under its previous name, the Riverside Center.
Harding says that UT President Ronald Vaughn is highly engaged in new building space design and directed the architects to design the new space from his understanding of how the career services staff members approach their work.
“It was important to use data-informed recommendations and provide professional standards to inform senior staff, architects, and designers to influence the design,” Harding points out.
“We used the NACE Professional Standards to advocate for design change that reflects national trends, expectations, and approaches to career centers’ work.”
The standards supported some innovative changes to the design, furnishings, and layout for the new office. The renovated office space now supports much of the recommendations in the Professional Standards, with multi-use rooms, state-of-the-art equipment to support virtual interviewing, small group gathering spaces, a genius bar area, and a “coffee shop” ambiance in the waiting area.
The standards have also been instrumental in informing senior staff about the trends and expected standards to create an effective 21st-century career services office.
“Senior staff respect the informed knowledge and expertise that NACE provides in shaping career centers for the present and future,” Harding notes.
For the Professional Standards to be an effective tool when advocating for more resources, supporting staffing proposals, and making programmatic changes, career services staff should develop an informed knowledge of the standards, and be able to share relevant perspectives and ideas when meeting with senior-level stakeholders, Harding suggests.
“It is important to be well versed on the standards to be prepared in any type of meeting where it would be helpful to provide a national perspective, recommendations, and trends,” he advises.
“A key step is to strategically share the Professional Standards with key stakeholders and senior staff well before a major impactful decision might need to be considered. While I don’t share chapter and verse each time, I do refer to the NACE Professional Standards frequently in meetings. It is evident that stakeholders are more likely to respect recommendations and decisions that are informed by national standards.”