Career centers on college campuses are tasked with the mission of helping students achieve their post-graduation goals. For the majority of college graduates, these goals involve transitioning into the work force. As a career center professional, I examine how students are being prepared by career centers all over the country. I accomplish this by reading articles that target innovative programs career centers are implementing and scanning NACE resources along with various other platforms. I also meet with fellow career center professionals to discuss the numerous ways that we are preparing college students to be successful after graduation.
However, I have noticed that there is still room for growth, and we as career center professionals are presented with a unique opportunity to improve upon the work we do that prepares students to succeed as young professionals. Through these improvements, we can better prepare our students for potentially one of the biggest challenges they may face, sexual assault in the workplace.
Increasing numbers of women are coming out and sharing their personal experiences with sexual assault in the workplace. Movements like #MeToo and TimesUp are taking steps to change and address this problem along with other inequalities in the workplace. I believe we should take part in these movements to better prepare our students for challenges they may face by educating them on how to be a part of the solution instead of becoming a part of the issue or potentially avoiding it all together.
As higher education professionals who prepare students to be successful after graduation, we should address all aspects of what it means to enter the professional world. I believe we need to recognize that sexual assault happens in the workplace and integrate topics such as this into the services we provide.
Women may make up the majority of people who have been sexually assaulted, but they are not alone. As career center professionals, the conversations we have with students, faculty, staff, and employers should focus on developing strategies to change the culture. As a result, the fear of being sexually assaulted in a professional environment will fade away.
The #MeToo and TimesUP movements among many more are already doing some phenomenal work. We should capitalize on the roles we are in by addressing this topic with our students, improving upon how we are preparing them to succeed as professionals.
Some ways I have gone about this on my campus is by having conversations with students and colleagues from various departments regarding the actions we can take as a campus to implement change.
We are also taking steps that include adding a question to the Campus Climate Survey which inform us if our students our being sexually assaulted while in their internship experiences. We then plan to collaborate with our employer partners to say time is up on this topic and other inequalities in the workplace.
Another involves developing workshops that address these issues to spread awareness and also provide concrete steps on what they can do to be a part of this change. I have found a couple schools incorporating sexual assault trainings into their internship programs which students have to complete before the begin their internship.
By recognizing the problem and educating our students on it we can better prepare them to overcome the various challenges they will face post-graduation. Our ultimate goal is to prepare our students so they can create and foster a safe environment wherever they go to decrease the fear and worry of being sexually assaulted and discriminated against in the work place.
Change is coming and it is up to us to decide if we want to be a part of that change.