Back to School Means New Changes and Creativity for Career Counselors

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It’s time to set expectations for yourself for the new school year. The year of virtual. 

If your school is going completely or mostly virtual this year, your typical day of career counseling is not going to look the same as it once did. But that’s OK. Frankly, it shouldn’t.

Working from home means more than just a lack of face-to-face time with students and colleagues. There are many considerations for your return to career counseling this school year.

Your productivity will change, so reset your expectations. According to NACE’s Career Services Benchmark Survey, career services folks spent 55% of their time student-facing last year. If that’s what your day used to look like, don’t feel like you need to hit those same quotas in a virtual environment. 

For one thing, it’s not as easy to access your students since they won’t be walking by your office throughout the day. Therefore, walk-in appointments are a thing of the past. 

For another, you need to avoid burnout. In a recent survey from Monster.com, 51% of workers said they’re experiencing burnout while working from home during the pandemic. You need to take care of yourself in order to successfully take care of your students.

Adjust the way you think about helping your students. Instead of meeting with them in person, support students virtually through a number of platforms:

Video calls 

The easiest change to make will be your standard appointments. Simply replace your scheduled, in-person meetings with scheduled Zoom meetings. We’ve been using video calls all summer to meet one-on-one or in group settings, and you can do this in the fall as well. 

Just make sure not to book your whole day with back-to-back calls. Give yourself time to take more breaks than you did when your meetings were in person. Staring at a screen all day can be more exhausting than you’d imagine.

Emails 

If you don’t have one already, create a career counseling email address where students can write in with their questions. Students already have access to email, making this an easily accessible resource. And it offers another way to have in-depth conversations with students who might have otherwise stopped by your office.  

Your team can rotate monitoring the inbox and replying to students’ questions or getting them scheduled for follow-up video meetings.

Twitter chats

Another way you can replace your walk-in office hours is to host Twitter chats. Schedule specific times during the week when you’ll monitor your school’s Twitter to respond to questions.

One of the biggest benefits of this communication method is that you can share frequently asked questions with all of your students who are following along in the chat.

You can also rotate who’s turn it is to host the chat among your colleagues.

Online chats 

An alternative to Twitter is to set up an online chat system where students can visit your platform to ask quick questions and get tips in real time. 

This is a great way to engage with students during your scheduled office hours. The benefit of this method — over Twitter — is that students can ask questions more privately. Plus, they don’t need a Twitter account to connect with you.

An online chat forum is another platform where your colleagues can take turns hosting.

Texts 

One other rapid-response option you can look into is texting software. Texting is an incredibly convenient way for students to reach out with their questions and get feedback from your team.

Some texting platforms even include artificial intelligence that can respond to FAQs before a conversation makes its way to your inbox.

Some examples of this software include: AdmitHub, GoogleVoice, ClassPager, and SendHub.

Virtual job boards or career fairs 

The last piece of the virtual puzzle is to bring the jobs to your students through job boards or career fairs. You might have already had a combination of these offerings in place, but accessible opportunities to connect with employers are crucial in a completely virtual environment.

There are tons of options for going virtual. You just have to pick what works best for your team and your students!

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Val Matta
Val Matta
Val Matta is the co-owner and leader of business development at CareerShift, a comprehensive job hunting and career management solution for companies, outplacement firms, job seekers and university career centers. You can connect with her and the CareerShift team on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, LinkedIn.