What Does a Career Services Office Really Do?
EACE contribution by Carol Crosby,Assistant Director in Career Services at Bridgewater State University.
If you read my last blog, you know that I:
- Had a great distaste for the term “assessment”
- Wanted to not only learn to like assessment, but I also wanted to create an assessment process that all the counseling staff understood and wanted to do.
In other words, I needed to find something that was important to our career counselors.
So I asked myself – If we need to assess our office, what should we assess? What is important? Why do we exist?
Well, there are a lot of things that we – and other career services offices across the country – do on a daily basis. The list includes:
In fact, we do so much that oftentimes our students are confused about the purpose of a career services office. Generally, when a student – in my rounds on campus – asks me what our office does, I select several words from above and hope that one of them appeals to that particular student.
So I needed to develop a simple statement about what we do.
After mulling over this thought for a few weeks and thinking about all of the above services, I found my statement:
Career Services helps students learn and practice professional skills for their transition from a student to a professional role.
I tried this phrase out on a number of students who came to my office over the next few weeks and they all immediately comprehended what our office did. Instead of a blank or confused stare when I listed different services, students were excited about what we offered and what they could learn. This statement said that we were providing something to them that they needed and wanted.
I then brought the statement to my director and, a little later, to the rest of the counseling staff and they all loved it. In fact, we liked it so much that we decided to add it to our mission statement:
Career Services at Bridgewater State University intentionally provides all BSU students with opportunities to learn and practice specific skills essential for their transition from student to professional. The Office is committed to forging learning relationships between students, from their first year through their senior year, with Career Services staff, employers, faculty, alumni and other members of the broader community to advance the professional development of all students preparing for their careers.
Now when our staff speaks to students about our purpose, we simply say, “We help you learn and practice the skills you need to transition from a student to a professional” – very simple and very effective.
But we still needed to define what those skills were.
In my next blog, I will explain how we developed a list of professional skills that worked for our office and our population.
Carol Crosby is Assistant Director in Career Services at Bridgewater State University. She has also worked in Student Affairs at Wesleyan University, University of Connecticut, and Brandeis University. She received her M.S. in College Student Personnel from University of Rhode Island and her B.A. in English from Wheaton College. You can connect with her through LinkedIn or by e-mailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org.