Founder & CEO
The Career Leadership Collective
Happy New Year, colleagues! I would have preferred to been given the chance to review the terms and conditions associated with 2022 before agreeing to another unpredictable year, but alas, here we go!
In all seriousness, I am thoroughly excited to see many of you in-person in 2022, and more so encouraged by the volume of career center leaders who are leading change with courage...and senior administrators who plan to learn how to transform their campus career efforts in 2022. ROI, Equity, and strategic use of career center time on high impact career practices are more important than ever; global health scares, student anxiety, and the enrollment cliff are not going away; and career success is still the most important variable in choosing a college degree.
What a complex, dynamic, and challenging adventure!
As you ponder the volume of choices and changes ahead of your career center this year, I'd like to encourage you to be laser-focused on what you plan to start, stop, and dream about as a career team.
After five years of leading The Career Leadership Collective and hundreds of incredible conversations with campus leaders, here are some of my suggestions to help you begin 2022:
Embed culture, belonging, and identity into your career exploration curriculum. It is fairly common knowledge that 50-75% of career exploration answers the self-reflection question, "who am I and how does that relate to my vocational pursuits?". However, if your toolbox for helping students to answer that question is only VIPS - values, interests, personality, and strengths/skills, and is absent of culture, identity, and belonging, then your office is doing a grave injustice to the dynamic nature of the question itself...and to students. I urge career offices to prominently feature identity-based discussions in your career exploration curriculum.
Adopt a curriculum to teach students how to build social capital. This has potential to be a game-changer for students. Teach, yes, teach. Don't just point them toward a platform and call it building social capital, although you want great access platforms. The Collective is a champion of the thoughtful work of Career Launch to address this equity issue. Give students with no connections the skillset and confidence to build meaningful employment connections.
Showcase a more robust career success story in the enrollment experience and across campus. With all love to a good placement rate and average salary marker, my goodness is the story much bigger than those two data points...as is the mission...as is the prospective student expectation of what they get out the degree. We have seen the difference first hand as we coach our NACM and EMBARK campus partners to thrive in this area. You won't regret growing in this area.
Presenting to faculty without data. Whenever you get to present to your faculty, bring data. Good, bad, and ugly. Insert it. Allow them to wrestle with it. invite their participation in it. Your credibility, connectedness, and return-invites will all increase.
Sitting in a holding pattern when senior administrators change jobs. It is not going to stop. And changes at the top should not stop your forward movement as an office. Plan to brief your soon-to-be new senior leaders on all the great things you are strategically pursuing and why, rather than waiting for them to show-up so you can ask them what they want you to do next.
Spending too much time on repetitive tasks you can either sunset or outsource. Identify the repetitive tasks that don't require a masters degree, and turn them over to google, technology, student workers, and videos. Or find a trash can when necessary.
About scaling career services to reach every student. It can be done.
About embedding career reflection activities into every course. It can be done.
About hundreds of faculty and staff career champions on your campus. It can been done.
But most of all, take care of yourself and invest in you. The world needs you and your unique contributions more than ever right now!
Jeremy Podany is the Founder and CEO of The Career Leadership Collective, home of The National Alumni Career Mobility Survey and EMBARK for FDS outcomes. He spent nearly 20 years inside higher education at three institutions prior to founding The Collective. His specialty involves helping senior college administrators to weave career education into the fabric of the campus and maximize results. The Career Leadership Collective has done business with over 1,000 colleges and universities since 2017, providing big data, research, and consulting solutions.