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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 June 09, 2016 by

Taking onboarding to the next level

Photo by StockUnlimited.com

Photo by StockUnlimited.com

Congratulations! You’ve landed your dream job – or at least the job that now represents a stepping stone on the path to that dream job. Either way, a new experience is on the horizon.

All companies, regardless of size, have an onboarding process. The onboarding process welcomes new employees to the organization. Some companies formalize the process and run it through a distinct human resources department. Others may have a more informal process that connects new employees with a more seasoned professional to help you learn the ropes.

Regardless of which process you encounter, making the most of your onboarding experience is a great way to begin your new career.

Since you never have a second chance to make the first impression, take the bull by the horn and rock your onboarding experience.

Be Punctual

This should go without saying, but show up on time – early even – when starting a new job. Showing up on time shows that you respect your colleagues’ time. They are busy professionals, and the onboarding process may be tightly scheduled in among a number of competing priorities.

If you’re unfamiliar with the area, take a dry run at locating the office in normal traffic to ensure you know the route. Above all, leave extra time for unexpected events.

Be Personable

A smile goes a long way when meeting new people for the first time. Dust off your most social persona and make it available during the onboarding process. Find out what you can about the company culture, important dates to consider, and what it takes to be a successful employee with your new employer.

Be Proactive

Many companies will assign workplace mentors to new hires. Mentors generally serve as someone who can help you get established, answer routine questions as you get settled, or direct you to the appropriate resources to find the correct assistance. If the mentoring program is not defined, ask your contact if they can recommend a senior employee and make the connection. Mentors are likely extremely busy, so reach out to a workplace mentor and set up a lunch meeting. Use that downtime to establish a relationship, seek advice, or learn more about the company’s culture or advancement prospects.

Be Pensive

Ask questions. Use the onboarding process to find out as much as you can about the new company, your new positions, and your new coworkers. If applicable, find out as much as you can about expectations for someone in your position. Learn as much as you can about training options available. Connect with any social or philanthropic organizations sponsored by your new company to connect with other employees and begin building your network.

Be Productive

While you were hired for a specific position, the onboarding process may expose you to a wide range of functions and opportunities available in the company. Gather as much information as you can. Look for opportunities to make your mark – even on your first day. If there are processes that can be improved or angles which can be exploited for cost savings or revenue generation, find out who would be the best person to submit those suggestions moving forward. Innovative ideas and process improvement strategies are valuable skills to help you stand out.

For more onboarding tips, check out our blog and follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel.

Guest writer Vera Marie Reed is a freelance writer living in Glendale, California. This mother of two specializes in education and parenting content. When she’s not delivering expert advice, you can find her reading, writing, arts, going to museums and doing craft projects with her children.

Posted September 04, 2015 by

Losing A Dream Job- Learn How You Can Handle The Situation With 6 Easy Tips

office, the head of a woman worker's release

Office, the head of a woman worker’s release. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

Losing your dream job seems like a nightmare as it rips your self-esteem to shreds. Not only such a situation leaves you with a very limited lifestyle but sometimes, it also pushes you into deep depression and stress. However, below you will learn some wonderful tips that will help you cope after losing your dream job and start working towards a new career: (more…)

Posted April 13, 2015 by

Changing Gears: Where to Start When You’re Making a Huge Career Switch

A modified road sign on career change

A modified road sign on career change. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

Making a huge career switch is a tumultuous, exciting and scary time in every job seeker’s life, and with today’s ever-changing economy, it’s very likely that you’ll find yourself making one of these changes at some point during your career. Searching for a fulfilling career is full of ups and downs; it’s a frustrating and exhausting experience that leaves many job seekers in a state of worry and disarray, but in the long-run, finding a new career that fits your goals and ambitions is better than being stuck at a job that you hate.

Follow these tips to help you get started with your career switch, and you’ll easily manage your doubts and fears during uncertain times: (more…)

Posted March 30, 2015 by

Why You Should Clean Up Your Social Media Profiles – and How to Do It.

Lisa Green photo

Lisa Green

The growth of social media has turned our focus online and made digital friendships, statuses and profiles just as valid as ones that exist in “real life.” Though there are countless advantages to a fleshed-out online presence, there are also real and unfortunate downsides, particularly to those who are on the hunt for a new career. (more…)

Posted July 23, 2014 by

Want to Change Careers, College Graduates and Find New Jobs? 5 Ways Not to Limit Yourself Mentally

For college graduates who want to find jobs in new careers, it is important for them not to limit themselves mentally in these five ways found in the following post.

You probably fell into your current career. Yes, I know you planned. You carefully considered your choice of degree. You got a job you were qualified for. But you only assessed opportunities that were right in front of your nose.   Your choices were (unwittingly) limited. Limited by your environment.

Original article –

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