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The Tremendous Benefits of connecting Academic and Career Advising

The integration of academic and career advising services is gaining momentum across university campuses as the life-long benefits of this approach for students become increasingly clear. The National Academic Advising Association (NACADA) clearinghouse is a key resource that hosts a wealth of scholarly work on the topic, including information that addresses the need for linking these two advising models.

Students often begin their college experience with the hope of attaining a better career after graduation, but may struggle to articulate a clear professional goal or a process by which they might evaluate the academic and career choices needed to get there (McCalla-Wriggins, 2009). Advisors and faculty members, however, are uniquely positioned with the resources to assist students in exploring their strengths, skills, interests, and passions to make effective academic decisions that hold both personal meaning and the potential to maximize their future career opportunities (McCalla-Wriggins, 2009).

Yet, given the wealth of resources and information available on both academic and career advising, the combination of these two fields can appear daunting. So why and how should an institution undertake an initiative to link these two previously independent domains? Outlined below are the nine reasons we believe in an integrated approach, three key ways these two fields can be linked, and four examples of initiatives we have implemented to introduce this new model for academic and career advising and education at Tulane University.

Reasons to Integrate

At Tulane, we believe that preparing a student for a career and life after college requires the strategic collaboration of the entire university. Combining academic and career advising allows us to better work together in guiding students toward identifying the right action steps at Tulane, so they will be on the right path after Tulane. Through our process of integrating academic and career advising, we have found that not only is integrating academic and career advising is good for the student, it’s also good for the university and the advisors. Here are 9 reasons why:

Integration is Good for the Student

The integration of these two fields can provide the student with:

  • Clearer academic and career direction

  • Intentional and connected exploration of academic, personal, and career interests

  • Career advantage through enhanced skills and confidence in professional knowledge and abilities

Integration is Good for the University

Combining academic and career advising also aids in achieving university-wide goals such as:

  • Retention through increased student engagement

  • Differentiation of the student experience based on individual interests and goals

  • Better advising that illuminates connections between personal interests, educational choices, and career planning to create a holistic path for the student’s future

Integration is Good for the Advisor

Integrating academic and career advising is also advantageous to advisors because it provides:

  • An increase in professional development opportunities and deeper engagement

  • Career Enrichment and/or advancement through enhanced roles, differentiated responsibilities, and opportunities for collaboration

  • A broader skill set with diverse competencies

Three Ways to Link Academic and Career Advising

Embracing the advantages of integrating academic and career advising, how can we best begin to utilize campus resources to encourage student and staff engagement in this holistic approach? There are three ways to link academic and career advising that build toward full integration, our goal at Tulane. They are:

  1. Connection: Keep offices and staff separate and meet infrequently, such as once a year, but link to each other’s websites and information and refer students to each office.

  2. Coordination: Keep offices and staff separate but have monthly or regular joint meetings to coordinate training, workshops, and information. Partner on events such as major weeks or sponsor joint internship or graduate school workshops together, etc.

  3. Integration: The most ambitious and challenging initiative—full integration of staff, training, systems, location, information, and philosophies.

Four Special Initiatives to Maximize Career Success

Adopting an integrated approach to academic and career advising and education can also mean introducing new initiatives across the university to achieve this goal. Tulane operates through a decentralized system wherein its schools approach academic and career advising from their specific areas of expertise. With that in mind, students within the School of Liberal Arts and the School of Science and Engineering are benefiting from a new model that adds unique value to a Tulane degree. Four special initiatives for students (Career Education, Career Advising, Career Information, Senior Year Experience) provide support and resources centered on their personal development and academic success while identifying their career hopes and dreams (Check out the Tulane Hopes and Dreams Survey).

Career Education for All

All students will have access to Career Education through CRDV 1090. 48 hours of instructional and learning time.

CRDV 1090: Majors, Internship and Jobs, a career development course, helps students to clarify their strengths, values, and goals to maximize their potential and connect academic and extracurricular experiences with career pursuits. Students create and refine professional documents, evaluate decision-making processes, and learn to utilize professional social media to network more effectively. Students are guided through the career development process by incorporating various assignments such as building a resume and cover letter, developing professional correspondence, creating a LinkedIn profile, completing a StrengthsFinder assessment, practicing job interviews, and creating a four-year plan.

Career Advising for All

All students will receive holistic academic and career advising that bridges personal development, academic choices, and career hopes and dreams. 4-8 hours of advising time.

One knowledgeable, caring academic and career advisor will be a go-to resource for each student, helping them to see how academic and career choices go hand-in-hand. Advisors are trained in cutting-edge career development models as well as proven academic development theories and practices. Student career questions and issues are addressed starting in their freshman year and every semester throughout the student experience at Tulane. This is a proactive approach in guiding students to find appropriate and excellent experiences and careers in addition to experiencing success in the classroom.

Career Information for All

All students will have access to relevant, up-to-date online information that is specific to their major(s).

Organized by major, our online portal allows students to browse customized information at any time throughout the year. Based on their academic and career interests, students are able to explore career areas, employers who hire their major, employment strategies specific to their field, professional organizations associated with their major, Tulane Alumni with similar majors, and current job and internship postings specific to their majors and minors (see an example for sociology majors here). Additionally, students can access a step-by-step guide to start their job or internship search complete with links to valuable supplemental information. The information on the portal reinforces the CRDV course content and career advising meetings—allowing students to continue their process on their own timeline and at their convenience.

Senior Year Experience

Students in their senior year have access to additional support services through a Senior Student and Employer Advisor (SSEA), a trained and or certified career coach who maintains relationships with a broad network of employers, alumni, and parents. 5-8 hours of advising time.

Students can join this program by nomination or by applying based on their career search needs. Once accepted, students will sign a contract with the program outlining their expectations and responsibilities in the process. Working with the SSEA, students will use their career hopes and dreams to formulate a personalized and detailed job search plan. Based on that plan, the SSEA will make network-based connections between their students and relevant employers to best position students to gain employment. While ultimately students are responsible for being hired, the SSEA will share accountability and responsibility during the process. In addition to job search assistance, students will receive information and resources for success after Tulane, such as the opportunity to meet with a financial advisor and other tools that facilitate the transition to the world of work.

Amjad Ayoubi is a change agent, creative thinker, problem solver and futurist who currently serves as Senior Associate Dean for undergraduate education at Tulane University. He oversees Academic and Career Advising, Success Coaching, and Academic Support Services such as Tutoring and Supplemental Instruction and Academic Services for Student Athletes. Amjad joined Tulane University after Hurricane Katrina to help rebuild Career Services operations and later helped reorganize, expand and enhance Academic Advising. Amjad is currently innovating in the use of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) in Higher Education and serves on the executive committee of the Higher Education Advisory Council for Salesforce.

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