September 06, 2022 | By Kevin Gray
TAGS: best practices, models, faculty, competencies, nace insights, career development
The University of Redlands’ Career Faculty Fellows Program was launched in 2019 to help the institution scale career services and embed career preparedness more intentionally into the curriculum. The program helps the Office of Career & Professional Development (OCPD) extend its reach and provide career readiness information, guidance, and resources to its students, despite its small staff.
“The goal is to give 100% of our students access to career education,” says Kelly Dries, Ph.D., assistant provost for professional development and engaged learning, in the OCPD.
“More than 85% of the university’s graduates enroll to get a better job. As a result, centering university efforts to ensure students receive an exceptional education and also embed career readiness into the student experience is necessary.”
While University of Redlands has 4,600 students spread across seven regional campuses, the OCPD has just four full-time staff to serve all of the university’s students and alumni, who receive services for life.
“For 100% of our students to have access to quality career development, a team of four simply cannot do that work alone,” Dr. Dries explains.
“We did not want the model where OCPD staff were simply presenting in classrooms about career development and career resources. We wanted to partner with faculty who were intentionally embedding career readiness and preparation into their everyday work and interactions with students.”
The partnership with faculty is important for engaging and guiding students.
“We know from national data as well as internal data that students benefit greatly from career conversations with faculty members,” Dr. Dries says.
She points out that relationships with faculty can:
To establish relationships with faculty, OCPD staff determined they needed to:
“The Career Faculty Fellows program helps remove boundaries between academics and career development and ensure that career development is a part of the experience every student is receiving,” Dr. Dries says.
“At every event, our [College of Arts & Sciences] dean shares how he is asked about what the university is doing to prepare students for life after college. He says that it behooves us to pay attention to the link between what we teach and where our students might want to go after they graduate. The Career Faculty Fellows program makes that link undeniably explicit.”
Each year, the OCPD asks students to identify faculty who are helping them with their career development.
“We receive upwards of 40 to 50 nominations from students, and then gather a diverse committee to select the five Career Faculty Fellows each year,” Dr. Dries says.
“With financial support from the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Career Faculty Fellows are paid a stipend for their work.”
The responsibilities of Career Faculty Fellows include:
“The goal is to create a career ecosystem where multiple faculty are joining the effort to help all students be prepared after graduation,” Dr. Dries notes.
The liaison work of Career Faculty Fellows involves communicating on a monthly basis with liaisons, so all faculty are consistently receiving information. In terms of the university-wide projects they oversee, Career Faculty Fellows have worked on a range of projects, from expanding internship programs to researching ways to improve advising processes.
“This program is about scaling and increasing equity,” Dr. Dries says.
“Our OCPD team is small, so it would be impossible for us to achieve anywhere near what we want to without their support.”
At the end of Year 1, fellows wrote a narrative about their experience.
“In their narratives, they discussed how being a fellow expanded their work in engaging with students and talking to faculty about career,” Dr. Dries says.
“Our OCPD team also wrote narrative, and one of the greatest impacts of the program was how the fellows helped normalize career development across campus. In Year 2 of the program, we did a pre- and post-survey among students who were taking a fellow’s course. Students in a fellows’ course reported the in-class career readiness sessions boosted their confidence by 75% as they began their first professional job search.”
Dr. Dries says that the OCPD aims to have one full-time, tenure-track Career Faculty Fellow in each department.
“This way, every department will have someone who is intentionally engaging in these conversations, aware of what’s going on in OCPD, aware of the resources that exist, and is an advocate for their department and colleagues to ensure that career and professional development is a part of the experience for all students,” she says.
One of the changes for the current semester is having Career Faculty Fellows hold one or two of their office hours in the OCPD.
“We are also finding ways this year that we can bring back our past cohorts of Career Faculty Fellows in more intentional ways,” Dr. Dries says, noting that the OCPD also asked past Career Faculty Fellows to consider spending office hours in the OCPD.
“We have been doing this informally and this year, we will bring more formal opportunities where they can join our incoming cohort of Career Faculty Fellows for orientation, where they will join for strategy sessions, help inform future projects, and more. We don’t want their involvement to wane.”
Also this year, the OCPD added the nomination question to its first-destination survey (FDS) form, which led to the office receiving five times the number of nominations it had received in the past.
“We still hold our typical nomination process, so that we can hear from all students on campus, not just those graduating, but by adding it to the FDS, we received more nominations than we ever have before,” Dr. Dries says.
She acknowledges that cultures and procedures do not change overnight.
“This will be a long, slow process in integrating career and professional development into the classroom and beyond,” Dr. Dries says.
“But as each of these incredible fellows takes on even the little, tiny things, big changes will happen. While the program is a great success, we know that the development of robust and effective career preparedness in departments across the college will only happen with consistent outreach over time, and we have been really intentional in the first three years of the program.”
Dr. Dries suggests that career services offices interested in developing a similar program start by identifying their goals and needs, including:
“Then,” she continues, “it’s critical to think about faculty demographics: What will resonate with them? What deliverables will be a good starting place? Having faculty helping with the deliverables is key. They need to buy in.
“It’s also important to think about the logistics. If funding can be allocated, how would career services achieve this? What would the office use the funding for? Who might be willing to and interested in providing funding for this type of program? Then, like with all things, the career services offices should assess, adapt, and change as it goes.”
During conversations she has had with career services colleagues in recent years, Dr. Dries has heard many stories about faculty who are resistant to talking about career development.
“However, what I have learned in this process is that faculty care deeply about their students, and every campus has faculty members who are already doing this work and/or who want to do this work more intentionally,” she says.
“Regardless of how a career center frames a program to get faculty involved, I can assure you it’s possible at any institution and I think career staff will be surprised at how much transformation can occur for students when faculty and staff come together to scale up career services. We are still working hard to ensure that 100% of our students have access to quality career and professional development, but with our faculty supporting this cause, I know we can make it happen.”
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