ARTICLES, BLOGS & VIDEOS

The latest news, trends and information to help you with your recruiting efforts.

Posted July 22, 2016 by

8 tips for beginners in career services

Photo courtesy of StockUnlimited.com

Photo courtesy of StockUnlimited.com

Beginning a new career is a challenge, no matter the field.  It is logical, then, to view starting a new job in career services as borderline daunting.  Landing a career where you help others develop their own careers?  Yikes!  But don’t sweat it.  If you’re a newbie to career services, take a deep breath and check out these helpful tips from someone who has recently stood in your shoes.

 

That’s right.  I’m right there with you.  I have logged less than a year in career services – 10 months, actually – and I can tell you that it’s taken each day in those ten months for me to develop a clear picture of how I’d like the services this office provides to look in three years.  I’ve also come to realize that to remain effective and relevant, this office can’t stay the same forever but must change with the times and the students who walk through its doors.  I’ve learned so much in the last 10 months, and I’m content knowing that I have much more to learn and more opportunities to pursue within this office.  That being said, here are eight necessities I’ve embraced in taking on my new role in career services.  Good luck to you, and pay close attention to number one.
1) Get excited! I mean it! Get. Excited. This is an amazing, dynamic field where each day you’ll have clients leaving your office happier than when they arrived and where your colleagues are always looking forward. Hope abounds. Potential is realized. You’re part of one of the most important services a college campus can provide, in my opinion, because you help the future drivers of our economy and leaders of our workforce develop the skills they’ll need to succeed in life beyond college. What an awesome space to occupy!

2) Know your history. If you’re coming into a position previously occupied by another individual, be sure to network with that individual to determine the direction of the career center up to the point of your arrival – including the career center’s current strengths, challenges, and opportunities. Read last year’s annual report as well as those from two-three years prior. Knowing where you’re coming from helps you develop a map for where you’re trying to go.

3) Know your target audience. This is perhaps the key to effective operation of a career center. Whether you serve Millennials, non-traditional students, students of a particular academic background, or any other group, knowledge of your target audience is an integral factor in developing student programming, opportunities, marketing efforts, and career coaching practices. A resource I’ve enjoyed for learning more about Millennials (my primary target audience) is Lindsey Pollak’s book, Becoming the Boss, though I’ve also learned from her presentations at the Kennan Summit 2015 and the NACE Conference keynote address.

It’s important to note that there are more factors in identifying your target audience than generational attributes alone. For example, what percent of your students are first-generation? How many receive financial aid? How many are international students? How many are business majors? How many are from the state in which your institution operates? How have these things influenced your students’ career development thus far? All of these factors and more will help you create a clear picture of the human beings you’re going to help and how best to help them.

4) Inventory your resources. Any good carpenter can tell you what tools he/she has, what they’re used for, and how to access them. The same can be said of any good career services professional. Upon entering your new role, you’ll want to ascertain what tools you already have at your disposal – a website? Social media accounts? Job boards? Support staff? Professional memberships? Established student programming events? How about colleagues in other departments with whom you can potentially collaborate on future planning or programming?

This is something your predecessor can really help you with, but keep in mind that he/she is not your only resource. Support staff is always an EXCELLENT resource, particularly if they’ve been around a while. I am very lucky, for instance, to have come into a position where just 20 feet away sits the kindest, most professional administrative coordinator who has worked for the college for many years. Her knowledge of program and general institutional history comes in handy daily, and she is a wonderful sounding board.

Make yourself a list of resources such as those listed above. Go through existing files on the network drives to which you have access. Once you determine what you have, you’re able to decide what you need.

5) Prepare to partner. Career services professionals absolutely must partner with other departments on campus. Neglecting to do so will prohibit optimization of career center programming. In other words, you’ll be missing out, big time, and as a result, the students you’re hired to serve will as well. Collaboration spreads the workload and allows for use of resources your little office will not have on its own.

Partnering is an expectation and, in my opinion, a gift. Embrace it. And keep in mind that partnering isn’t limited to institutional departments. While it’s great to partner with faculty, for example, to market a career fair to students, it’s also excellent to partner with student organizations to boost participation in career center programming. For example, before that very same career fair, you could partner with Greek Life to host an interactive workshop where students prepare for the fair. You’re effectively providing programming for a large, “captive audience,” while at the same time bolstering attendance for your upcoming fair. Plus, your visible connection with this group will encourage other student organizations to partner with your office, thereby boosting your reach. I could go on and on about partnering. Don’t limit your work to the confines of your office! Get out there, and I can promise you, you’ll be happy and effective!

6) Attend a professional conference. The best ideas are often those you learn from colleagues, but your prospects are limited on campus. Professional conferences, such as the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) conference, allow for a meeting of the minds, where career services staff and professionals from the working world can share best practices, trends, and ideas. I attended the NACE conference in June and came home with ideas for events, new partnerships, assessment and reporting techniques, and several new contacts – including employers and other career services professionals with invaluable knowledge and expertise. State and regional-level professional conferences are wonderful resources as well. Look online to find appropriate events for you.

7) Build your network(s). For a career services office to function successfully, the staff must have connections with employers, volunteer services organizations, graduate and professional school reps, other career services professionals – the list goes on. You want to develop a list of contacts you can access and refer to easily throughout your day. If this doesn’t exist upon your arrival, its development will be one of your top three priorities. You’ll refer to this document when you send invitations and save-the-dates for major events, such as career fairs, grad school expos, and student/alumni networking events.

The key to harnessing the power of these connections is getting started. Create a LinkedIn account, if you don’t have one, and begin connecting with company recruiters, career services professionals, and your institution’s alumni group. If you’re like me and are the sole career services professional for your office, consider forming a board of advisors with ten or so alums and professionals whose networks and influence can help you locate campus speakers, boost alumni support of career development efforts, and discover new career opportunities for current students. Remember that your network isn’t limited to you. You have access to your colleagues’ connections as well as the ones you forge yourself. Many times asking for help or advice is the best way to establish a connection, so don’t be afraid to reach out.

8) Keep records and get creative in reporting them. Most career services offices already keep track of how their programming is operating – how many students they reach, what the students are saying about their services, what types of services are used by which students, etc.; but this isn’t enough. Prospective students and their families want to see how your institution’s students are faring in the “real world” before making the financial commitment to attend. Along the same line, prospective donors and business partners like to see the impact of their donations of time and treasure. For these reasons, it’s imperative that career services professionals track current students’ and graduates’ experiential learning achievements and post-grad destinations (their first job or where they go to graduate or professional school) and share that information with other departments on campus. If your office isn’t currently pursuing this data, this is an effort you’ll want to initiate.

Annette Castleberry, Co-Director of Career Services at Lyon College

Annette Castleberry, Co-Director of Career Services at Lyon College

For more great tips for building your career services program, follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

 

About the author, guest writer Annette Castleberry:

Currently Co-Director of Career Services, Annette Castleberry is excited to be promoted to Director of Career Development at Lyon College beginning August 1, 2016.  You can connect with Annette and with the Lyon College Career Center on Facebook or www.lyon.edu.  

 

 

Posted April 16, 2016 by

6 apps for college students

Long gone are the days of card catalogs, Trapper Keepers, and other broken systems our parents had to wrestle with in order to do A-grade productive work. We are a generation of cyborgs forever enhanced by technology such as smartphones, tablets, laptops, and the apps these machines enable.

LD prod/Shutterstock.com

LD prod/Shutterstock.com

Okay, so maybe calling us a generation of cyborgs is a bit of a stretch, but to be successful a system is necessary. Thankfully many of us are lucky enough to take advantage of a plethora of great applications that make having a system a little simpler which makes being a student a little more manageable and a little less stressful.

Task Management is basically what life boils down to once you’re on your own and you don’t have mom and dad forcing study habits on you and trying to instill within you the virtues of priority. This is why it is imperative that you replace your parents with a task management app. My personal choice is Todoist. Todoist is a minimalist to-do-list app with all the features needed to keep tabs on what needs to get done and when. The app features natural language dictation, which basically means that instead of having to click through various tabs and settings to create a task, just type, “Algebra homework Thursday at five pm” and Todoist will create a task titled, “Algebra Homework” and remind you to do it at five-o’clock Thursday night. Todoist is available on almost any platform for free and is easily the most intuitively designed to-do application there is. There are, however, many other options like Wunderlist or Anydo if Todoist isn’t right for you.

A Calendar App like a to-do app is there to help you prioritize what you need to be doing and when and where you need to be doing it. However, instead of making lists of each individual task, a good calendar app allows you to quickly block out sections of time to plan out your day and easily view that day so it can be kept up with. The app I use is called Fantastical which also has natural language dictation like Todoist. Fantastical also syncs seamlessly with your Google Calendar, your iCloud Calendar, and any other calendar you might be tied into.

However, in spite of Fantastical’s inclusion in my productivity system, it is not the calendar I would recommend. Instead consider Sunrise Calendar. Sunrise Calendar has basically all of the same functionality as Fantastical, but it’s free and available cross-platform whereas Fantastical has a hefty price tag of $4.99 and is available on both IOS and in the Mac App Store.

Note Taking apps are a no-brainer. Try as you might, you are not going to do well in any lecture based class if you can’t take notes. App developers know this, and that is why there are too many note taking apps to count. Fortunately one sticks out above the rest, and that is Evernote. Evernote is the note taking app for any project really. The app finds use well out of college to collect recipes, shopping receipts, bank statements and some even use it as a word processor. Evernote takes any kind of note from text notes to audio recordings. Once a note is taken you can organize them all by notebooks or by tags or by ways I haven’t even tried yet. Evernote is free to use, very powerful, and accessible on just about any device. If you don’t like Evernote, you can try Microsoft’s OneNote which ties in nicely with the Microsoft ecosystem if that’s your thing. You could also just use Microsoft Word or Google Docs, but Evernote is a cut above the rest in my opinion.

File Storage apps for the most part go unnoticed and just sit there on your computer screen or tucked away into a folder on your phone, but they are far more useful than we give them credit for. Day one at college you are going to receive about a thousand syllabi. Do yourself a favor;  tuck all the hard copies away into a folder where you can find them later for back up. Then ask your professors to send you the syllabi digitally and save them all to an app like Google Drive, Dropbox, or Onedrive. This way you will always be able to access them and tweak them to accommodate snow days or when your professor moves a test around. It doesn’t really matter which of these apps you decide to use; just pick whichever one offers the most free storage possible.

Finally, in a category all their own are Miscellaneous apps. These are the apps that don’t really fit in any of the other categories but are still hugely helpful. First is Flux. Flux is actually a piece of software you can download onto your computer that will change the type of light your computer emits throughout different times of the day. At night Flux adjusts your computer screen to stop using blue light which can mess with your sleep patterns and switches to a less disruptive red light. The change on the screen is subtle, but when you have to pull an all-nighter and need to get a few hours of sleep, you’ll be happy to start the day feeling a little more refreshed than you otherwise would have.

Next is an app I use almost every day called Pocket. Pocket is a digital “pocket” where you can tuck things into to be viewed later. Reading an interesting article but have class in ten minutes? Save it to Pocket. Your roommate sent you a funny fail compilation, but you have a paper to write? Save it to Pocket. Pocket also has an article view function that takes the articles you save and converts them to plain text while removing advertisements and page-fluff. Finally an app that automates your life! If This Then That or IFTTT for short lets you create little recipes that help eliminate pesky tasks. One example is If I tag an article in Pocket “#research” Then save it to my research paper notebook in Evernote. I could go on and on, but for the sake of article length just download these apps, give them a whirl, and thank me later.

Billy Stidham, guest writer

Billy Stidham, guest writer

I coasted through high school and was never a productive student. I put all my homework off until the last minute if I even did it at all. However, during my senior year, I started to take my grades and the idea of college seriously. Once I got to college I lacked basic study habits. I had no system, but now these apps have turned me – a super procrastinator – into a cyborg of proficiency.

Billy Stidham is a writer and blogger. Hoping to earn a living by writing, Billy is pursuing his Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature at Lyon College in Batesville, Arkansas. You can follow Billy on Twitter @I_R_Beast  and on Linkedin.