by Shirley Farrar, Rowan University
One fall stormy day at the Glassboro campus, I was interacting with students in front of the Office of Career Advancement (OCA). I encouraged each student that passed the OCA that day, to take advantage of the on-campus career services we offer. Within 90 minutes, after conversing with over 45 students, I was astonished that more than half were unaware that professional career services were offered at
Rowan University. Although I was standing directly in front of the OCA, I was also caught off guard when most of the students questioned where the office was located on campus. In the midst of this “Twilight Zone” moment, several personal emotions swirled- disbelief, uncertainty, and sadness. I thought to myself, “How is it possible that students did not know the purpose or location of the university’s career services center?”
Startled but appreciative of the student responses and feedback to my questions, I began to dig into the research to determine the national norm for student usage of career services resources. What I found out was alarming! According to the Gallup and Strada 2017 reports, less than 20% of students nationwide in higher education utilize on-campus career centers. This has become a discussion that monopolizes conversations of career counselors, advisors, and other practitioners within the career services field. This is opposite compared to the data from 1988 to 1990 where career services offices
had the highest interview numbers (Pennsylvania State, 1990).
Considering student utilization of the Office of Career Advancement reflected national patterns and trends, it was important for me to address this gap. Thus, the ON THE SPOT campaign was birthed. This model’s tagline “Taking it to the streets” in addition to interactive information on the career website, markets and promotes the purpose of the career center by offering students professional career services on-the-spot in their environment. Students saw me set-up in various colleges on campus, in the student center, at campus events, even in the dorms, peddling career services.
Within two semesters of implementing the ON THE SPOT model, I acquired 1110 student surveys (Farrar, 2018). Over 65% of students indicated that they were made aware of the OCA through ON THE SPOT. In addition, many students stated that they would be more likely to visit the office if more ON THE SPOT set-ups were offered. During the first year, I (along with a few grad interns) engaged with over 1000 students regarding career services. Using professional resume critiques as the primary attractor for students, we took advantage of the opportunity to increase student awareness of all services that the OCA offers.
As I reflect on the data and prepare for the second year of the program, I am reminded of my true purpose. Engaging with students, understanding and meeting their needs, and partnering with them on their college to career journey is my passion. Accordingly, I knew in my heart that the best way to reach
them was to go to them because clearly the majority of the students were not motivated to come to me.
Shirley Farrar is a Career Counselor for the Office of Career Advancement at Rowan University. She has over ten years of community and faith-based advisement experience, a Bachelor degree in Psychology, a Masters in Higher Education in Administration, and a Masters in Counseling in Educational Settings. Shirley has a published thesis entitled Motivations for participation in adult education of predominately African Americans in a religious organization, in addition to an action research thesis entitled On The Spot Career Readiness Awareness. She is currently working on community consultation and education through a New Jersey 501C3 nonprofit organization.
Farrar, Shirley S., “ON THE SPOT Career Service Awareness”, Rowan University, Action Research, (2018). Retrieved from https://s3.amazonaws.com/rowantk20com/fileshighered/-
Gallup-Purdue Index Great Jobs. Great Lives. The Value of Career Services, Inclusive Experiences and Mentorship for College Graduates (2016). Retrieved
National Association of Colleges and Employers, Career Services Benchmark Survey Report for Colleges and Universities, (2016-17). Retrieved from
Rayman, Jack R., Pennsylvania State University. Contemporary Career Services: Theory Defines Practice. New Directions for Student Services. No 62 (summer 1993). Retrieved from https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1002/ss.37119936203
Strada-Gallup College Student Survey Crisis of Confidence: Current College Students Do Not Feel prepared for the Workforce (2017). Retrieved from https://news.gallup.com/reports/225161/2017-