Driven by the question of whether undergraduate students and their supporters understand the value of out-of-classroom experiences, this session outlines the steps taken to understand and address the perceived connection of cocurricular involvement and employability. Developed by a cross-campus collaboration of multiple stakeholders and departments, the Engagement & Employability Research Initiative set out to understand this relationship through an intensive research project that assessed one institution’s undergraduate students, their families and supporters, and graduate employers. Through multiple surveys and focus groups, the results of this study established a disconnect between the heavy emphasis employers find on the value of cocurricular skill development and student’s perception of getting involved for social benefit. After a review of these findings, this session will delve into the formation of the CMU Gold Path—one institution’s answer to preparing well-rounded, career-ready graduates.
CMU Gold Path guides students to design their on-campus involvement and cocurricular experiences into skills and knowledge valuable to employers and graduate schools. Gold Path consists of five competency areas: leadership development, health and well-being, career readiness, civic engagement and social justice, and diversity and inclusion. All cocurricular experiences included in Gold Path go through a review and approval process to ensure they align with Gold Path goals and included measurable learning outcomes. Staff and faculty from across the university worked to identify a core set of student development theories and learning outcomes for each competency area. This session will highlight the process of selecting core theories and writing learning outcomes for the career readiness competency area.
Following this program, you will be able to:
- Understand the influence of undergraduate cocurricular activities on post-graduation employability;
- Classify one model of developing cocurricular programming that intentionally develops career readiness competencies; and
- Identify strategies to strengthen cocurricular and career-related campus partnerships.