When you want the best for your staff, students and institution, it can be extremely frustrating to face ongoing organizational challenges with no apparent solution.
Maybe you are constantly receiving negative feedback from dissatisfied students, concerned administrators/faculty, or unhappy employers about the career center’s performance. As the pressure to make changes mounts, you might compare your center to those at other universities and wonder why you aren’t enjoying the same level of success. It might seem like your center doesn’t have the capacity to adopt new technology, meet changing students’ and parents’ expectations or otherwise adapt to current trends in college career services. Perhaps, you’re also concerned about the overall efficiency of the internal operations of your career center, and how to ensure it is positioned to become a best-in-class, innovative career center for years to come.
Although you have some idea of the issues sapping student engagement and satisfaction, it seems you only have a few pieces to a much larger puzzle. To make sustainable improvements, you need help looking at the whole picture.
Most institutions of higher learning find it difficult to invest the resources necessary for a career center’s optimal performance. In part, this is because career centers were, until recently, primarily considered places where students revised their resumes or found an internship. Today, students—and their parents—expect a great deal more.
With the cost of tuition and the weight of student loans in the forefront of many minds, college job placement rates are under increased scrutiny. Students and parents know they are making an enormous investment. If they are going to spend tens of thousands of dollars on a degree, they want to ensure they’ll enter a stable, well-paying job after graduation. So, they are searching for universities that can make and meet that employment promise.
Despite this mounting pressure, many universities still don’t view career education as a distinct discipline to develop and nurture. Therefore, career centers are often dramatically understaffed, often with a 5,000 students to 1 staff member ratio, when the professional standard should be approximately 1750 to 1. Further, directors and other career staff members rarely have opportunities to learn and adopt evolving best practices in career services.
Although these challenges can seem insurmountable, it is possible to improve your career center. With the support of a career services-focused university consultant, you can pinpoint the specific challenges you face and implement immediate, comprehensive solutions.
At Dynamic Transitions in NYC, we have over 15 years of experience working within career development, with specific expertise in higher education. In fact, consultant Dr. Richard Orbé-Austin was the Founding Director of NYU’s Graduate Student Career Development Center. In addition to building this well regarded career center, he has worked in a variety of public and private institutions, bringing a unique, expert perspective to the common challenges career centers face. He has been in your shoes, and he knows how to cultivate solutions and success.
Our consulting services are individualized and collaborative. We focus on helping you identify your organization’s specific strengths and areas for growth.
First, we engage with you to understand your present concerns and to develop a uniquely tailored intervention plan. This plan may involve conducting an external review of the career center, where we connect with various stakeholders such as students, faculty, employers and senior administrators to fully grasp your current challenges. Then, we craft a vision for optimizing your career center’s functioning, including desired long-term outcomes and the specific steps needed to achieve them.
Next, we use the information gleaned from the review to productively restructure and reorganize your career center. With awareness of both up-to-date best practices and insight into your institution’s specific needs, we develop and implement a career services strategic plan. This means looking at every relevant piece of the puzzle.
We have facilitated countless organizational transformations, and we’re confident that the same transformation is possible for you.
We encourage you to consider the tangible outcomes you wish to see in your career center. Like many others in your role, you likely wish to increase the employment rate for students, which goes hand-in-hand with greater student satisfaction, improved university ranking, and increased enrollment. Achieving these outcomes means attracting more engaged employers, satisfied alumni and potential donors, which demonstrates a great return on investment.
When graduates thrive in their careers, everyone benefits. Investing in career center consulting means investing in a sustained path toward your university’s overall success.
At Dynamic Transitions, your goals are our goals. That means we won’t make unrealistic suggestions or rush sloppy, superficial changes. Instead, we will develop an achievable career services strategic plan that serves your center’s needs and supports your institution’s objectives.
Because this is a significant undertaking, some of the growth you see might be incremental at first. A key part of the career center development process is honing in on small, immediate victories that highlight progress toward your overall goals. Celebrating those steps forward encourages staff and others to embrace change, and even to dedicate further resources toward your restructuring efforts.
With your team’s support, as well as the backing of the administration, change is absolutely possible.
Once you start achieving some of your smaller goals, your career center’s victories will likely build on themselves. Growth generally disrupts stagnation and creates opportunities for even more growth.
Your center’s improvements can foster more positive relationships with employers, established alumni, recent graduates and more. These relationships become pipelines toward mutually beneficial networking and ongoing opportunities for collaborative growth. In this way and others, making the right changes now can certainly lay the groundwork for sustainable change.