It’s easy to get lost in the excitement and confusion when adjusting to coming back to school. But, as you know, planning for internships, building portfolios, updating resumes, and looking for post-grad job opportunities can’t wait until everyone is comfortable. In fact, time is of the essence for many students to get their foot in the door in a competitive market.
Many students recognize the urgency to begin piecing together the picture of their ideal industry, role, or employer. The trouble is they don’t realize career services has the information they need to establish themselves as professionals before they graduate.
Here are a few ways you can get students ramped up for career services from their first impression:
Get it in early and make it fun. Use a video introduction to make a personal connection and make sure your personality shines through. Students, especially those new to campus, may be nervous to come out to meet the career services team. This is the prime time to get in front of students and make it personal.
Have members of career services record brief video introductions that share what they do in the day-to-day to help students map their academic to career paths. Include a few fun facts as well. Students’ nerves will be put to ease recognizing career service team members who binge-watch the same Netflix originals, follow the same social influences, or love the same spicy taco sauce.
You’ve tried this before, and only a few students showed up, right? You could dissect the details of your events from timing your invites to hor d’oeuvres but the ways students connect with social engagements, especially in an academic environment, changes as frequently as year to year.
Instead, look at current trends, whether through exploring social media or surveying students in your network, and identify entertainment and resources that resonate with college students. Perhaps you can host an escape room-themed event or American Ninja Warrior challenge.
Relate the theme, the best you can, to the job search and encourage students to show their grit and come out triumphant. The key is to show that your career services team is relatable and invested in helping students launch into their career journeys. Even better, you can show them it can be fun.
Admittedly, depending on the size of your campus or professors’ schedules, blocking out time for class-to-class career services awareness presentations may not be practical or worthwhile. You could consider popping into different buildings and catching professors and students in conference halls and classrooms to share a fun fact, relevant to the course or career path.
Then you could leave some career services marketing collateral, maybe some mints or post-it notes, or pens with social handles and contact information. Make it easy for students to connect online by asking professors to share and even hang a URL code students can easily scan and save the career services page to their bookmarks.
The key is to get in front of students, show professors you’re serious about student success, and make your services memorable and accessible.
I don’t have to tell you this, but it’s worth acknowledging. Your budget for career services is stretched thin. You want to host events and give every student complimentary care packages, but quite frankly, there’s a hole in the bucket.
In fact, following the pandemic, NACE revealed one-third of career services professionals reported cuts to personnel budgets and over 50% reported a decrease in their non-personnel budget. This can be devastating for students who desperately need your guidance.
Deflated budgets will make it more challenging to blast career services presence, but there are plenty of ways to make the most of your resources and skills. For example, many businesses offer free hats, t-shirts, pens, and koozies. Reach out to employers to build connections that could open more doors for internships and recruiting opportunities.
When you share job opportunities and the guided paths students need to follow to earn top job offers following graduation, you can toss in a career services business card with merch from an employer that caught their attention. Be creative and be smart with your budget. Don’t throw it all down for the biggest back-to-school event if you can get a better turnout once students settle in. You know your students, school, and surrounding community best. Lean into the support and resources they offer.
Set Students Up for Succss