In 2018, the fifth annual McGraw-Hill Future Workforce Survey revealed only four in 10 U.S. college students said they feel well-prepared for their future careers. This should come as a surprise due to the fact that college itself is a means to gain preparedness and employability.
So, what gives?
Part of the issue could be fewer than half of students take advantage of career services, such as career counseling. However, those who do use these services find them overwhelmingly helpful.
Awareness is the clear culprit here. Even with a great ad campaign, students may not see career services as something for them. While others may be unaware career services are entirely free through their tuition. This can be especially true for students taking online classes with little chance to visit campus.
Spread the word about the benefits of career services. Here are five tips to attract students in a way that makes your offerings seem like an absolute must-have in career preparedness:
A college degree isn’t the only thing getting recent graduates hired today. Professional experience such as internships, job shadowing, and volunteering is essential to full-time employment following graduation. In the previously shared McGraw-Hill study, 51 percent of respondents indicated they would like more internships and professional experiences. Enter, career services.
Simply advertising your services isn’t going to be enough to bring in the students who need you most. Begin to share the success metrics for each of your tools and services. Even better, put a face to the success of career services. Share the stories of students who received interview guidance and landed their dream internships. Highlight alumni networking opportunities and those who have found success through the connections — employers and students, alike.
When students don’t come directly to you, focus on how you can meet them where they are. Often, connecting with students can be done through the professors they trust. Make professors allies of career services by asking how to best support students and by finding areas where career services can assist in ensuring professional experience.
Leverage student connections with trusted professors and faculty advisors who often act as career counselors. Partner with these professors or specific departments to host social media campaigns and contests. This is a chance to engage students in the tools and resources made available by career services.
A 2017 Gallup study found that the majority of students turn to their friends and family for advice about college and career planning. But this is only beneficial when their peers and family have expertise on the topics at hand. Take advantage of peer-to-peer trust for college students by training select individuals as student advisors.
These students can act as support staff, as well as receive training to coach their peers through resume writing, interviewing, and more. But the biggest win when utilizing fellow students as peer advisors is the impact of a shared social network. Simply knowing someone who works at career services may be enough to get other students through the door.
For so many students, career services is merely an optional part of the college experience. But what if it was firmly embedded into the college curriculum? This could take place in various ways.
For instance, career aptitude tests could be a mandatory part of the freshman-year curriculum. This would fit in neatly with a mandatory introductory appointment. There’s also the opportunity to require students junior status and above to utilize career services to prep for applying for internships.
Alumni are a fantastic resource for college students, whether they serve as a connection to job or internship opportunities or simply a sounding board for career guidance. Career services can act as a gateway to high-value alumni connections. Get creative when it comes to alumni-student opportunities.
Instead of a standard networking event, consider hosting a speed-dating style gathering within career services. This could be a chance for students to get resume feedback and interview practice directly from alumni. Another example would by featuring pop-up mentoring opportunities throughout campus with well-known alumni.