I’m in the midst of a study on the professional development needs to those new to career services. I’ll be posting data here as I find interesting things to report. Here are some details on who took the survey:
I had a total of 121 responses, of whom:
- 31% have been in the field for 1 year
- 32% have been in the field for 2 years
- 20% have been in the field for 3 years
- 17% have been in the field for 4 years
- 35% entered career services directly from a degree program
- 31% entered career services after FEWER than 5 years in another field or industry
- 35% entered career services after MORE than 5 years in another field or industry
In response to the question “based on what you know today, how prepared were you for your first position in career services?”:
- 4% responded “not very prepared”
- 46% responded “somewhat prepared”
- 40% responded “sufficiently prepared”
- 9% responded “extremely prepared”
In response to the question “do you have someone you consider a mentor in the field of career services (even if that person is not in your office)?”:
- 69% responded “yes”
- 31% responded “no”
The remainder of the survey was qualitative rather than quantitative. But, I’ll be exploring the qualitative responses through the lenses presented through the delineations above. I asked them questions about ways career center leaders can better support or improve professional development; about what ways having a mentor has impacted them; about what advice they would give leaders for helping other new professionals coming into the field; and examples of the most meaningful professional development experiences they have had. I’ll also be doing some follow-up interviews with participants who volunteered to speak in more detail.
So, look for more posts coming soon!
Posted by garyalanmiller on October 14, 2013
Following up on my previous post, here are a few other thoughts of things university career services center should be considering to maintain relevance and useful services.
- Increase distance services. Chat services; appointments via skype and using screen sharing tools; virtual events (not just fairs); video resume reviews; webinars; “bite sized” instructional videos; blackboard/sakai sites; google hangouts and so forth.
- Expand self assessment options. Strong Interest Inventory (which I don’t particularly care for) and MBTI are prevalent. Let’s expand to include communication styles, team work styles, leadership styles, innovation styles, etc.
- Increase mobility. Be less dependent on a specific office and provide services with more mobility, in more locations, with more flexibility.
- Make websites mobile friendly. You can ignore the rest of my thoughts, if needed. But, if you don’t heed this call, you’ll be behind soon – mobile traffic on the web is already more prevalent than from desktop computers.
- Audience segmentation. When you talk to everyone, you’re talking to no one. Invest in your marketing by segmenting your audience and speaking to their individual needs, rather than using blasts.
Posted by garyalanmiller on September 7, 2013
Here is a quickly brainstormed list of what career services pros should be considering doing to maintain relevance into the future. I’ll add more posts like this soon. But, I’d love your thoughts on these and what *else* we need to be doing.
- Skill/capacity building sessions. We know what employers need, and we know that students don’t always get them in their studies, and they may or may not be able to get them in internships and other places. We can supplement.
- Merging with leadership development and service learning offices. If you’re not *at least* partnering with them now, and possibly considering merging, you should be.
- Taking a more active role in any experiential education requirements your campus may have (on the academic side).
- Coordinating a campus-wide experience-building or job shadowing program. Your institution has many, many functions – marketing, HR, finance, fundraising, event planning, governance/legal, program management, research, teaching, and the list goes on. Get students connected to them.
- Entrepreneurship support. programming, connecting, training, providing work space. It can come in lots of forms.
Posted by garyalanmiller on August 31, 2013
I’ve found that I haven’t had much time to create content lately. But, because I *consume* content at such a fast pace and large volume, I remembered that curation can be just as valuable as creation. So, I’ve started a Flipboard magazine companion to this blog. I have a paper.li account that does this, robot-style. But, the Flipboard magazine is hand-selected content.
If you are a Flipboard user, simply search “Service Design, Marketing and Innovation for Higher Education” and you’ll find the magazine that I’ve begun curating there. And if you’re not a Flipboard user, I encourage you to check it out. It’s a very useful and visually-appealing way to consume content from a variety of sources (ever wonder what your twitter or facebook feeds would look like as a magazine?).
I’ll still be creating content here on occasion. But, the Flipboard magazine is more of an ongoing place to read things that line up with this blog philosophically.
See you there!
Posted by garyalanmiller on July 5, 2013
I am super excited to announce The Innovation Forum For Career Services, an event I’m co-coordinating with my friend and colleague Ray Angle. The event takes place on August 1 and 2, 2013 in Raleigh, North Carolina. It features keynotes, plenary sessions, a panel, plenty of discussion time and the Career Services Innovation Idea Challenge. You can read more at our site: the-if.net
If you’re a career services pro interested in innovation, this is the event for you!
Posted by garyalanmiller on March 27, 2013
In a recent Fortune article titled Why is Innovation So Hard, there is a quote that is very important for those of us in higher education to consider.
“The primary function an organization’s rhythm is to maintain equilibrium.”
Why this quote has special meaning for higher ed pros is that part of the foundation of our organizations, part of why they are so long-lasting and why they outlive Fortune 500 companies and other types of organizations, is that they have a rhythm and they have traditions. The semester (or quarter) system cycle. It lulls us. Our institutions thrive for the service they provide to our society. But, we survive by repetition and ritual. Many (if not most) leaders become leaders because they are able to replicate and deliver effectively. In the so-far-excellent book (I’m only a few chapters in), The Innovator’s DNA, the authors state,
In contrast to innovators who seek to fundamentally change existing business models, products or processes, most senior executives work hard to efficiently deliver the next thing that should be done given the existing business model.
So, where does that leave the would-be innovator who is working within the system? This isn’t another blog post about MOOCs or the latest EdTech start up. This is about the higher ed pro who is pushing boundaries, iterating, pivoting and innovating inside their institution.
I don’t compose this with a lot of sage advice or solid answers in mind. But, I am increasingly intrigued by those who choose to be in our field, but focus on the skills of an innovator — discovery, idea generation, questioning, experimenting, risk-taking, comfort with discomfort. We don’t tend to hire for those skills. We tend to hire for content/discipline knowledge and experience, along with personality factors and more standard workplace skills such as communication and teamwork.
Perhaps one key for the leaders of our various higher ed sub-fields is to begin thinking more broadly about what skills we need in our staffers. Are we looking solely for the ability to replicate and duplicate. Or should we more purposefully look beyond “best practices” for those “next practices.”
Has your office expanded the desirable skill set for your staffers? Have you re-written job descriptions to include anything forward-facing? Are you otherwise organizationally preparing yourselves to be more innovative? I’d love to hear from you, if so.
Posted by garyalanmiller on January 18, 2013
In a meeting earlier this week someone referred to our students as “customers,” but then, realizing what had been done, quickly walked the statement back by saying something like, “not that we think of our students as customers.” That’s been a long-held student/academic affairs mentality — students are not customers.
There are certainly parts of this sentiment that I understand. The implication is that a student has different responsibilities in the educational experience than a customer would in a commercial experience. And I believe that to be true. But, I also believe that too often we lean on the idea that students aren’t customers as a way to comfort ourselves for providing less-than-stellar service.
Sometimes this less-than-stellar service is beyond our control. We don’t make all the policies, and we don’t control the bureaucracy. But, dang it, we say we’re here for the students. So, when it makes sense to pick up a phone and make a call rather than send a student traipsing across campus, we should do that (as one of my colleagues did this afternoon, I’m happy to say). That’s not hand-holding or coddling, that’s just good service, and our students deserve it.
Recently a person that I respect posted, jokingly, on Facebook the old adage “a lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part.” We know students put things off, and we know they don’t always take action when they should. But, the very tone of that statement belies our often-stated mantra that we’re here to help students. Does that mean we shouldn’t discuss consequences and better planning and better decision making? Of course not. But, we shouldn’t be afraid of “service” just because we think it is for customers and not for students.
We should be focusing on how to give the best service we can, and we should be learning from those commercial sectors to which we don’t like to be compared. Whether you like it or not, those are the standards to which we are being held. The experiences students have with us are contextualized not against other university offices or offices similar to ours on other campuses (which is why benchmarking is such a flawed concept sometimes), but rather against service in all settings.
What are you doing to provide absolutely top-notch service to your students? I’d love to hear about it. I’m sure it’s happening!
Posted by garyalanmiller on August 28, 2012
Social media is fun. Social media is free time. Social media is hanging out. It’s for friends and for photos. It’s for games and goofs. As Jim Tobin said, social media can be a cocktail party. So, why on earth would a student want to connect to your office there?
The truth is, most of our offices are not that interesting. We do important work. We do serious work. Academics. Success. Development. But, we’re unlikely to compete with the latest meme (barring this). So, when you post to Facebook or Twitter something like “The deadline for [insert academic policy] is coming up on [insert date], don’t miss it,” it’s not that surprising that the response you receive is silence.
I’m not suggesting we can’t be interesting and fun. We just haven’t chosen to be most of the time. And in some cases (like housing/residential education offices it seems), students will actively choose to engage with your work on social media regardless. But, for most of us, it takes work. And it takes a willingness to be more open and more human, and in the words of my former colleague Demi Brown, “to show a little leg.”
It goes beyond content. For example, our tendency, it seems, has been to open social media accounts with names that involve our university and department names, rather than our own names and never mention the person behind the keyboard. Would you rather talk to a big faceless department or a person? With which are you more likely to feel comfortable and establish a connection?
So, here are 5 tips for being potentially more interesting to your students:
- Be human. I hesitate to use the overused — but, authenticity matters. Talk like a human, not a university bulletin or a classified advertisement.
- Tell stories. If you’re trying to convince someone to come to a program, don’t tell them about the program, tell them a story related to it.
- “Show a little leg.” As noted previously, it’s okay to relax and have a little fun. It’s also okay to talk about things not related to your office. Talk sports. Talk music. Talk whatever is fun for you.
- Be recognizable. Put your own name and photos on your accounts. People care more about talking to a person than a department.
- Talk smaller. If you’re talking to everyone, you’re probably not talking to anyone.
Bonus tip: Recognize that you may never be destined for a large following or hundreds of comments and retweets. And that’s okay. It doesn’t mean you’re wasting your time. Just make sure you’re measuring the right thing!
This is cross-posted on the fabulous SocialAtEdu blog.
Posted by garyalanmiller on August 27, 2012