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What Alice in Wonderland has to do with your Employer Relations Plan?

EACE Blog contribution by Akanksha Aga, Assistant Director of Employer Relations at Johnson & Wales University

If you don’t know where you are going, then it doesn’t matter which road you take.

As Alice navigates Wonderland, she stumbles upon the Cheshire Cat – a “Management Guru” in feline clothing. His advice to her is extremely relevant to career services professionals. Alice asks the Cheshire Cat which way she should go and his wise response is, “Well, it depends on where you’d like to get to?”  When Alice indicates she isn’t sure, the Cat’s sage advice is, “If you don’t know where you are going, then it doesn’t matter which road you take.”

Experiential Education & Career Services professionals can easily get caught up in the day-to-day operations of career fairs, workshops, interviews, meetings and lose sight of our overarching goals. The unfortunate result-we could lose our way like Alice! We have many stakeholders that we are directly, or indirectly, accountable to including students, employers, university leadership, faculty, regulatory bodies and more. Timely planning can help ensure we keep our promises to them.

So, where are you going this academic year? Here are 3 questions to consider for your employer relations plan:

  1. Are you Measuring Activity or Results?

Busy isn’t productive! How is your employer relations plan helping you achieve your department goals and aligning with your university mission? It’s important to consider why you are doing what you are doing. As the Cheshire Cat said “Where would you like to get to?” It is even more important to consistently track those results so you can plan future activity. For e.g.: If you held 5 career fairs but didn’t collect data on student employment engagement it’s hard to evaluate their success. Measuring data from your career fair can not only help you plan future activity and make budgetary decisions but also celebrate successes with academic leadership and employers.

  1. Are you Identifying New Opportunities with Employers?

Before the new academic year begins meet or call your key employers to discuss mutually beneficial goals. Ask about their recruiting priorities and share yours in order to plan initiatives for the new year. Perhaps they have a brand new internship program or you have a student group on campus that’s making waves. Be creative with your plan by trying something fresh: perhaps a social media campaign, video chat with alumni, fun competitions with student groups. Discuss realistic outcomes with your employer partners and agree upon annual goals so both parties can head in the right direction come September.

  1. Are you Prioritizing?

While it’s important to have new initiatives and explore new ideas it’s just as important to know your tipping point. Saying No isn’t easy for some of us but if you are trying to do it ‘all’ are you doing it well? Make the most of your time and resources by prioritizing…sometimes re-prioritizing. While evaluating ideas ask yourself if this project will get you closer to your department goals? Will it strengthen your brand among students? Help employers recruit more interns or hires? Will it improve operations? If it isn’t going to help you meet your short or long-term goals then you may be headed down a rabbit hole and should reconsider that project.

So, where are you going this Fall?


Akanksha Aga

Akanksha Aga

Akanksha Aga is the Assistant Director of Employer Relations at Johnson & Wales University, Providence, RI. She is responsible for developing mutually beneficial recruiting relationships with industry partners for the purpose of internships and hiring. She is the primary relationship manager for employers such as Marriott International, Nordstrom, Wegmans, Target, Amica and more. Akanksha started her career with the Taj Group of Hotels, a five-star hotel chain, in India. She acquired her MBA in Hospitality Management from Johnson & Wales University in 2002. Akanksha was the student commencement speaker for her graduating class. She is actively involved with the Women’s Foodservice Forum. Akanksha is married to fellow JWU alumnus Samir Dhamija. They have a toddler and reside in North Providence, RI.

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