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  • Community College Rolls Out Competencies on Campus, Beyond

    January 23, 2019 | By NACE Staff

    Competencies

    TAGS: best practices, program development, spotlight, community college

    Spotlight for Career Services Professionals

    Anne Arundel Community College’s Employment Services office is spearheading an initiative to integrate career readiness competencies at the college, which has more than 45,000 students enrolled, and in the local community.

    “Many employers tell us they would like our students to fit in their organization and demonstrate these competencies in the workplace” explains Veronica Boreland, employment services specialist at AACC. “The career competencies we’ve developed support the college’s strategic plan for student success.”

    AACC’s career readiness competencies—critical thinking/problem solving, oral/written communications, teamwork/collaboration, digital technology, leadership, professionalism/work ethic, career management, and global intercultural fluency—align closely with the NACE Career Readiness Competencies, with an adaptation of the Career Readiness Reflections from NACE’s Career Readiness Sample Assessments

    “We find that the Career Reflections Map adapted from the University of Michigan helps students and faculty identify skills gained from a project, course, job, internship, or volunteer activity,” Boreland notes.

    AACC is rolling out the competencies on campus and in the community:

    • By partnering with faculty to present workshops;
    • At the School of Business and Law to high school teachers, counselors and internship coordinators at the Business Summer Institute;
    • To career counselors at Anne Arundel County Public Schools during their summer training session; 
    • By visiting classrooms to introduce the competencies directly to students.

    Each term, the Employment Services office hosts career readiness workshops for academic advisors and has included workshops for staff/faculty at AACC’s annual convocation. Participants work on how to apply the competencies to AACC’s 40 fields of interest that lead to an associate degree. Career readiness competencies are also built in to the Pathways to Success workshop series for students.

    “At our workshops, we spend a lot of time reviewing each competency and facilitating discussions on how they relate to the programs in each field of interest,” says Boreland.

    Boreland has seen progress toward the incorporation of the competencies on campus. Several professors include assignments that highlight one of the competencies, allow students to develop a resume with guidance from Employment Services, or offer extra credit for these assignments.

    During her work off campus, Boreland has seen tremendous interest in the competencies, as well. One example comes from when she visited a local high school to help students build resumes.

    “On the first day, I met with 10 students, and as I reviewed their resumes, I showed them how their experiences fit with the career readiness competencies,” she says. “The next day, more than 50 students showed up because they found out the other students had identified such good skills to list on their resumes. They wanted to learn how to convert their learning and experiences into workplace skills.”

    Boreland has recommendations for other colleges looking to implement a similar initiative to implement career readiness competencies:

    • Don’t reinvent the wheel—Use available resources to support your efforts. “NACE has been very helpful with providing guidelines and sharing materials so colleges do not have to start from scratch to develop content to support the competencies,” says Boreland. “We also use statistics from NACE to demonstrate the importance of the competencies in the workplace.”
    • Build relationships across campus—Build relationships with faculty, staff, and various cohorts. Start slowly by building a connection with one willing faculty member or department, and then, expand services to other areas. Be patient and flexible as you work across campus. “Our dean and vice president have been very receptive and supportive of our initiatives,” says Boreland. “However, we are a large campus, so we still have more work to do to engage more faculty and students. We try to be creative and flexible as we work to achieve consensus.”