Until recently, LDS Business College in Salt Lake City focused its career preparation resources on the typical strategies. Career Services’ two counselors prepared 2,200 students for post-college job searches. They helped students craft résumés, write cover letters, and practice interviews through career prep courses and in-person appointments.
Each semester, an estimated 130 students took advantage of one-on-one counseling and 20 students participated in courses. Also, semi-annual job fairs on campus drew around 100 students. Challenged to do more with less, the college revamped Career Services, spearheaded by career counselor Barbara Thompson under the direction of her former supervisor, Craig Nelson, vice president of advancement, who oversees the Employment Center, and continuing under her current supervisor, Adrian Juchau, chief student services officer. Both centers play an important role in helping students prepare for employment.
The college started by leveraging existing assets, especially courses into which career prep lessons could be included. Thompson developed 13 career development milestones that were woven into the curriculum in 2012. “Instead of getting students into a career prep course, we got career prep into many more courses,” she says. Some faculty questioned the value of that process, but a few semesters later, “they are converts.”
Besides serving more students, this new approach allowed LDSBC to expand and enhance the depth and breadth of training students were receiving. New units on networking, and presenting themselves professionally in person and online were added. And faculty had the flexibility to teach lessons in class, assign as homework, ask Thompson to guest teach, or send students to a career development conference hosted by the college. Each unit requires one to two hours of study.
Thompson curated online resources for students and faculty, shared YouTube videos, and tapped into tech teaching site Lynda.com, to which students have access. She created a career development milestones training resource to aid faculty in providing industry and career information to students and developed a system to train students, faculty, and volunteers to provide one-on-one consultations. And resources were centralized to help students better prepare for a scheduled consultation and get the most out of the counseling session.
Finally, the traditional career fair model was replaced by the Career Development Conference in 2012 to attract more students and provide more useful instruction and connections. Working with community HR experts, industry professionals, and faculty, the conference, which spans two days and replaces regularly scheduled classes, serves 2,000 students, instead of the 100 who used to attend the fair.
Now, Juchau says, students are taught how to fix their résumés themselves and are expected to prepare for counseling sessions by watching videos and completing online modules “ahead of time,” says Juchau, rather than simply arriving at an appointment.
By spreading responsibility for preparing students for careers throughout the college, rather than retaining it as the sole job of one career counselor, LDSBC has increased student involvement in the process and enhanced the quality of the services they receive, all without adding staff or expensive technology.
Applications are being accepted for the 2013 Models of Efficiency Winter Program. Apply now!