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  • Predictions for Our Profession in 2021: Arlene Kaukus

    February 10, 2016 | By NACE Staff

    Trends & Predictions
    A group of career services professionals.

    TAGS: trends and predictions, nace insights

    Spotlight for Career Services Professionals

    By 2021, career services offices are going to have to be more intentional and offer strong data to quantify the impact they have on student success, according to Arlene Kaukus.

    "I have seen a lot of anecdotal reporting on the impact we are having on student success, but I haven't seen a lot written in journals based on research about what we're doing to contribute to student success," says Kaukus, director of career services at the University at Buffalo. "With the connection to funding, enrollment, and retention, we're going to need to answer to the impact we're having on our students with good data."

    She also foresees a shift in the way career services views and provides support to its student population, away from what she feels is often a homogeneous approach.

    "There will be a growing recognition that career development strategies and programs have to be distinguished by the [degree] level of students," Kaukus explains. "Our coaching and guidance will have to help graduate students, for example, make connections to the working world. We need to do it differently for these populations."

    This will become increasingly important as the marketplace—and, subsequently, the competencies students will need to be successful in it—continues to evolve.

    "Because there is such a confluence going on between higher education, the job market—with new industries, careers, and jobs—and legislators interested in job creation, there will be a melding of the work we do with the economic development goals in our regions and states," Kaukus says. "There will be a push for us to be much more proactive in curriculum, programs, and new degree development."

    One problem, she says, is that identifying the jobs of tomorrow will continue to be akin to hitting a moving target.

    "[They] will continue to be unknown," Kaukus says. "We're training people against curriculum that's relatively static. As the world changes, we need to focus more on coaching and developing skills like resilience and creativity so students can reshape themselves to new opportunities we can't identify or define."

    Delivering integrated services in the future will require a stronger collaborative effort across campus.

    "I'm a strong believer in integrated services to students," Kaukus says. "We are a village more often than not serving our students. We all contribute to student success, and we will need to be more integrated."

    For example, she says career services will need to strengthen its influence with academic units to offer robust skill development

    "Collaboration will be a key skill competency career services professionals will need in 2021," she says. "As much as we focus on students, we will also need to pay attention to what's happening in the world to inform the thinking about possibilities for student employment. We need to be in evolving and developing partnerships with a shared goal to support student success upon—and beyond—graduation."

    To share your outlook on the profession in 2021, please e-mail Kevin Gray at

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