#TBT…University of West Florida Career Services Engages International and Study Abroad Students

Katie Hudon, University of West Florida

The University of West Florida (UWF) Career Services Department has partnered with the Office of Diversity and International Education and Programs (ODIEP) to afford UWF international and study abroad students the opportunity to learn about techniques and best practices in career planning and to understand the availability and advantages of engaging in experiential learning.  Both international students and study abroad students have unique needs, opportunities and challenges they face.  UWF Career Services has worked to become well informed about these populations so that the office can better  support, offer programming, and assist these students in communicating their experiences to bolster their credentials and help ease the transition for them into their future careers.

In addition to extensive research conducted by Career Services staff, representatives from Career Services from both the Career Planning Team and the Experiential Learning Team reached out to the Director of the International Student Office as well as Program Coordinators/Advisors for International Students, the International Center and Study Abroad.  Setting up meetings with these ODIEP staff members created an ongoing series of forums for learning about students with which the ODIEP regularly worked.  Career Services representatives were able to ask pointed questions about how to best reach out to and serve international and study abroad students.  Moreover, to get a pulse on the needs of international students, discussions with the ODIEP included uncovering common questions and concerns related to Career Services that were asked by UWF international students.  For study abroad students, opportunities such as international internships and future participation at the ODIEP-hosted Study Abroad Fair were explored.

From these meetings, Career Services gained valuable insight on participation and partnership opportunities available through events and activities hosted by the ODIEP.  For example, participation through volunteerism at large-scale events hosted by the ODIEP (such as UWF Celebrates the World and Cultural Explosion) allowed staff members to meet and interact with many UWF international students and those students interested in study abroad.

In addition to learning more about ODIEP events and international and study abroad students, Career Services was able to share its own upcoming events.  Representatives of the office were also able to inform the ODIEP team about the full range of services available through the Career Services office.

As a result of this newfound relationship between the two departments (which are housed in two different divisions at UWF), the lines of communication are fully open between the ODIEP and Career Services.  For example, recently, job scam alerts were discussed in a Career Services staff meeting.  As this issue was being discussed in the staff meeting, Career Services staff quickly recognized that this information should be shared with the ODIEP, as many of these scams target international students.  Soon after the staff meeting, this information was relayed to appropriate individuals in the ODIEP.  In addition to protecting students because of the free flow of information now existing between the two offices, international students are very frequently referred to Career Services for various career needs.  The close relationship between the two offices keeps Career Services forefront in the minds of ODIEP staff as a helpful resource for both students and staff members.

Finally, a capstone programming initiative was launched in the Fall of 2012, an initiative that further demonstrates the impact of the flourishing collaboration between the two departments.  In an effort to focus on the specific needs of international students, a series of career-related workshops targeting international students were held.  The first workshop provided an overview of Career Services and gave some specific information related to job search strategies, networking, and goal setting.  The second workshop, held early in the Spring of 2013, provided students with techniques for interviewing, networking, and engaging employers at career events.  This presentation was strategically situated for relevancy less than three weeks before the UWF Spring Career Showcase, which was the largest career expo of the Spring 2013 Term.  Several international students attended the career expo after coming to the workshop.  The third workshop, which was a resume workshop, allowed international students the opportunity to identify similarities and differences between resumes in their home countries and in the U.S.  All of the workshops were infused with well-researched content highlighting best career development practices for international students.  Students from both the Pensacola and Emerald Coast campus attended the workshops, and international students representing each of the three UWF colleges were present.  Students attending the workshops were very engaged and asked in-depth and specific questions that allowed Career Services staff to convey their knowledge gained from research and experience.

 

#TBT…UCF Career Services Takes the Lead – Ready Room

Kathleen Rancourt, University of Central Florida

On Oct 3rd, UCF Career Services offered a new initiative at the already popular Career Expo – The Ready Room.  This year we had approximately 1700 students and over 200 employers who attended the Career Expo.  Career Services spends a lot of time prior to the event providing programs and services to help prepare our  students to meet employers. In addition to current programs and services, we implemented a new approach this Fall by hosting a Ready Room.  The Ready Room provided an opportunity for students to get immediate feedback and coaching prior to meeting with employers.

The Ready Room had four stations.

1. How Do I Look?  Students stood in front of a mirror and were able to get their business suits critiqued.  Scissors, safety pins and bobby pins were all on hand for last minute fixes.   Students were very appreciative for the helpful suggestions on how to dress to impress at future expos and interviews. It was great to see how open students were to getting feedback; some students were literally dashing through the turn-style and asking “How do I look?”

2. Picture Perfect – Students were dressed and looking sharp for their LinkedIn profile photograph.   They were very excited to be able to replace their casual photo for a professional one.  It was also a great  opportunity to educate students on LinkedIn as a powerful networking tool.  This was such a popular station that students who were not able to take their photo before the career expo made sure to return after the expo to have their photo taken.

3. Google Employers –Some students are often unaware of the importance of researching employers  prior to attending a career expo. Students were offered a work station with laptops and practical guidance on how to research employers.  Having knowledge of the companies they were interested in meeting was valued by both students and employers.

4. Practice Run – This station was definitely a hit.  Students were able to practice maintaining eye contact, a firm handshake, a smile and a strong introduction. Students had the chance to work one-on-one with a career professional to try out their pitch.  Not only was this great practice, but also a great confidence booster.

We were excited about this new initiative, but were not expecting such a great turnout.  We had almost 500 students come through the Ready Room and the student feedback was overwhelmingly positive.  After visiting the Ready Room, students were asked to complete feed-back evaluations.  Over 200 evaluations were collected and one hundred percent of students indicated they would recommend the Ready Room to other students.

“I’m so glad this was available.  It is such a valuable resource and made me feel more confident in myself and ready for the career fair.”  – UCF student

 “This was a great addition to the job fair.  It allowed students to not only prep, but release nervous energy before meeting with employers.  Very satisfying!”  – UCF student

#TBT…E-Mail Communication…It Works!

Sarabeth Varriano & Rex Wade, University of West Florida Career Services

Higher Education institutions are under the microscope to demonstrate students’ return on investment for their  attained degrees. Included in that assessment is student success in realizing their career goals. Career Services offices rightfully focus on career education and job search strategies and preparations with their constituent students. The authors of this monograph rightfully remind us of the importance of strategic employer development that results in meaningful partnerships, sponsorships, and effective talent recruitment.

A helpful review of employer relations history and evolution over the past several decades provides a context for developing a comprehensive and effective employer development strategies that aligns with an ever changing world of work and economy that is in flux. A thoughtful treatment is provided for approaches, programs, marketing strategies, event coordination, fundraising, technological support, and program assessment no matter what the number of staff or size of the institution.

In just a few pages, the authors provide not just a approach to employer relations but practical examples that include sample job descriptions, event checklists, report charts, staff performance review forms, employer evaluation examples, miscellaneous printed and electronic ads, and much more that are a part of an information packed Appendix.

The authors stress the importance of having a dynamic program with a final chapter that provides insight into future employment relations issues and trends including topics such as accountability, internships, distance learning, recruiting trends and social media.

This monograph is a must for any new Career Services professional. As a veteran of over 20 years of Career Services experience, I also found it thought provoking and inspiring for new ideas, approaches, and strategies. As I add this book to my library, I am confident that I will often refer to it’s practical resources while developing and assessing an effective employer relations program.

We are looking forward to growing this communication process and are excited to explore new ways to measure its success.

ace

 

#TBT…Student Success Celebration at Florida Tech

Tace 2he Office of Career Management Services at Florida Tech just held the second Student Success Celebration to honor students who have completed a job/internship/co-op from Summer 2013 to Fall 2013 (dates could vary) and/or have a job already set for them upon graduating in December 2013. During the first of these events, which occurred in Spring 2013, the Office of Career Management  Services was looking for students with the same criteria but for Summer 2012 through Spring 2013.

This celebration, although for the students, helped the department with assessment.  The students were able to enjoy light refreshments and have a chance to win great prizes in a raffle. The Office of Career Management Services hopes to continue this activity for many semesters to come.

 

#TBT…Email Etiquette: The Art of Writing in the 21st Century

Jairo R. Ledesma, Florida International University

For centuries the art of writing a letter was just that: an art.  Writing was reserved for scribes, whose job it was to draft carefully edited letters and books that would be read by the elite. Over time, with the advent of technology the scribe was replaced and the production of books and letters was accessible to many. That was a good thing I guess. The drawback, we could surmise, has been that we no longer pay attention to detail and the power that the written word has. Take for example the manner in which we communicate today. Electronic mail, or email, is perhaps the number one way we communicate (I do believe this is changing, and how you communicate has to do with the age bracket you fall under) and it is perhaps the only way we have to get our point across in great detail, since the days of actually writing a letter by hand are all but gone.

Email in its purest form is a representation of who we are. It allows the reader to infer our character, mood and overall mental well being. IF I WRITE TO YOU IN ALL CAPITAL LETTERS, you will assume that I am either very angry at you or that I simply forgot to let go of the Caps Lock button. if i rite to u like this, u may think that i am younger and hip, or maybe you will think I am your friend or something. Or if I write to you like one my students did recently “Yo Ledesma,  I uploaded my resume go ahead and approve it because I needed ASAP” you may think I was a bit rude.

So, where have all the etiquette and manners gone? Over the course of my almost 13 years in higher education, I have noticed that etiquette as it pertains to writing has diminished and seems to be spiraling downwards. Gone are the days of paying attention to detail, to the tone and to our audience.

The internet/information revolution perhaps has made us go a bit faster than we were previously accustomed to. In our haste to keep up, perhaps we have neglected the details, or is it that in our early educational experience, the emphasis on writing and grammar has shifted? Could it be perhaps that these deficiencies were always there, but is it only now when the written word is more important than ever, that we notice this? Whatever the case may be I find myself having an internal battle of whether or not I should take the time to “school” a student on proper email etiquette. I think about whether the student will actually take into consideration what I just wrote to them. I contemplate whether I now will get into a back and forth with a student who may take offense to a “teaching moment.” In the end, the educator in me always wins out. In my line of work, every moment is a teaching moment, an opportunity to share information and/or an opportunity to make students reflect and think.

Alas, there is hope; I think, I hope. Just browsing the Linkedin website, I come across hundreds of professionals who profess knowledge of email decorum. A quick Google search finds a plethora of articles on the subject. But in the end, I am convinced that it will be the educator in all of us to let our students, our future professionals, know how important communication is and how vital email etiquette is to their professional development and future. I usually do my best in the most polite fashion to let the   student know first what the mistakes were, and then next how it can be done better. More importantly, I let them know why it matters so much that they get this figured out before they reach the professional world. I sometimes provide links to articles (such as this one from inc.com) so that students do not just hear it from me. Lastly, remember that as Career Services professionals, if we don’t take the time then someone else may.  BECAUSE if u dont…some1 will,  butt it May be 2 LATE!!!!!!!

#TBT…4 Surefire Ways to Optimize Your Career Center

Val Matta, CareerShift

Think of your career centers as hidden gold mines: Although they’re there at your disposal, few college students are aware of their advantages. A National Association of College and Employers (NACE) survey showed only 36 percent of students frequently take advantage of career center services. What’s more: 27 percent of graduating  seniors who plan on entering the workforce do not make use of their college career centers services. So while many students and young professionals may be aware of their career centers, not all use it as much as they could.

What are some ways to optimize your career center, especially during the job search? Check out these tips:

Find an advisor who understands you

First things first: You have to find a career center advisor who gets you. This is important for a few reasons. First, an advisor who understands your major, your personality, and your career path will be able to steer you in the right direction more efficiently. In addition, when you feel comfortable around these kinds of advisors, you’ll likely be inclined to seek and later take their advice.

Tip: Before you meet with an advisor, research their history and professional background. Then, try to see if your professional interests and values align with theirs, ensuring you find the right match.

Get resume help

About 71.3 percent of those who use career centers take advantage of resume services. Think about it: You have experts at your disposal ready and willing to optimize your application materials. In particular, your resume is usually what a hiring manager or recruiter sees first, so it needs to be at its best.

Tip: The best way to get resume help from a career center to come as prepared as possible. Have a rough draft ready to go, even if you know it may be edited. That way, there’s a solid foundation for you and the advisor to go through.

Practice, practice, practice

The NACE survey also indicated that about 42.8 percent of career services users go there for mock interview sessions. This is great way to learn and understand the best interview methods, such as how to answer questions appropriately or the best ways to follow-up. You may also learn how to dress professionally or how to conduct your body language in a way that shows you’re professional, enthusiastic and eager to get the job.

Tip: Don’t be nervous! Your career center advisor is there to help you. Ask for feedback on what you’re doing right and what you need to improve upon. This way, you’ll get the bad out of the way and be able to emphasize the good.

Find those hidden opportunities

After all your proactive work is complete, it’s time to utilize your career center’s best asset: Hidden job opportunities. Eighty percent of open jobs are never advertised, which means members of your network, including your career center, may be aware of jobs you would never see listed. So it’s vital that you use this resource to your advantage.

Tip: Be sure to jump on those hidden internship and job opportunities. Just because they aren’t advertised, it doesn’t mean others haven’t gotten wind — they may be applying for the positions as well. In addition, if your advisor has a connection or can give you a reference, you may have an easier time getting into the organization.

Visiting your career center is an absolute necessity, whether you just started school or are about to graduate. Be sure to take advantage of this resource and use it to its full potential.

This article was originally published at http://www.businessinsider.com/4-surefire-ways-to-optimize-your-career-center-2013-6 and may be re-published with permission from the author.

 

#TBT…Employee-Crafted Goals Pay Off

Robert Liddell, Saint Leo University

Goal setting and performance management are often cited as supervisors’ least preferred responsibilities. Cascading performance goals down through a large division or organization is a complex undertaking.

Coordinating everyone’s goals around activities that contribute to productivity requires communication, planning, rewards and support.

To create strategic alignment among the organization’s direction, the manager’s performance expectations and an employee’s annual objectives, consider having employees design their own goals. This practice provides rewarding opportunities for employees to assume responsibility for their contributions and development.

In some cases, it makes sense to assign an annual objective to the individuals or small groups most capable of delivering the desired work product. However, companies in which employees have a say in how they make contributions benefit from increased job satisfaction and reduced turnover.

Prepare.

Employees who are aware of top-level objectives and how their department supports those objectives are better prepared for this process. As manager, your first step is to review top-level objectives and understand how your team’s goals contribute. Then, consider what goals need to be delegated.

Next, clarify employees’ key responsibilities and begin to anticipate the goals you might expect them to achieve. Having already set your annual goals and ensured that they fit into the company’s direction, ask employees to do the same.

Prior to a goal-setting meeting with a subordinate, share relevant information and clarify expectations. Define the resources required. As your direct reports draft performance goals, have them include at least one measure for each goal to specify the results expected or the level of performance required.

Review.

Emphasize that employees are writing their goals, but, as their manager, you are responsible for ensuring the relevance of their tasks and how they fit into the organization’s plans.

At a minimum, employees’ goals should represent key responsibilities of their positions. Consider if it is appropriate to delegate a specific goal or pieces of the goal to another employee. Break large goals into smaller components.

Stretch goals should advance your goals and those of the organization. As a manager, you must oversee the efforts of others to produce these results. If their tasks don’t fit into your tasks, you will be wasting effort. Question whether such tasks need to be reassigned to another department or discarded.

Align.

After reviewing the drafts, meet again with each employee to agree on final goals. Those who are part of the goal-setting process are able to articulate how their work directly contributes to annual goals.

As their manager, you will see ultimate rewards such as higher job satisfaction and employee engagement. Managers who consistently achieve this alignment and engagement are often given the opportunity to contribute to strategic initiatives and, perhaps, be rewarded with a promotion and career advancement.

This article was published on July 1, 2013 in HR Magazine and has been reprinted with permission from the author.