I started my career in higher education back in 2000. As another anniversary approaches, I wanted to put together a list of what makes a great career center. There are several websites to go to for information on this topic, like the Princeton Review, Best Colleges, and of course, NACE.
How many of these items can your career center check off?
- Operates outside of a 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. window. Workshops and counselors are available during times that work best for student schedules.
- Provides daily walk-in hours and online scheduling for appointments.
- Career resources are available 24/7 online.
- Space is front and center on-campus. Everyone knows the location.
- Offers a ‘Career Services on-the-Go’ mobile office during peak times where students congregate.
Builds the Right Team
- Should be a diverse, multi-generational, multi-cultural work force.
- Prepared and trained to address more than just the standard resume, but also career counseling questions from ALL students in your campus community, such as: first-gen, veterans, LGBTQA+, under-represented groups, athletes, etc.
Invests in Tech
- Has software that manages employer events, helps students find job matches, keeps data organized, and markets services of the career center.
- Provides a platform for career webinars so students can interact in workshops with counselors even when they are off-site or on breaks.
- Offers quiet virtual interview stations or laptops with video capability for students to borrow.
Uses Data to Find the Story
- Helps students get jobs. Compare your first-destination outcome rate to the NACE national average. If you can’t help your graduates find success in the job market, then nothing else matters.
- Designates someone to oversee the data. Having a data analyst responsible for the stats means there is someone constantly reviewing trends, looking for issues, coming up with solutions, and communicating with shareholders.
Builds Employer and Alumni Partnerships
- Provides students face time with the employer brands that they really want to see through road-trips, on-campus interviews, and events. But also balances that out and brings in relevant brands that your students might not know about but can find placements.
- Builds strong relationships with recruiters and the alumni office for mentoring, programing, and a mutually beneficial partnership.
- Partners with alumni, employers, or nonprofits to build a career closet that offers free professional attire to students that can’t afford it.
- Offers portfolios for those going to interviews, prints business cards for students, and takes pics in the office to create LinkedIn profiles for students.
What criteria do you think the "best" career centers meet? The NACE website, MeetUps, and events are a great way to learn more about topics that influence our field. The vendor fair at each NACE Conference & Expo lets us review the latest tech, apps, and services that can make a department run efficiently. You can also find instructors to educate your team on industry topics and counseling best practices in one of our NACE discussion boards, or just message me on LinkedIn and ask for ideas. Hope you are tapping into all our NACE resources to lead your career center into the new academic year.