Connections.Collaborations.Careers: Build Your Network with Career Consortia
EACE contribution by Aaron Basko, Assistant Vice President for Enrollment Management, Salisbury University
The career field is a web of overlapping partnerships. We advise students to network, network, network as they put out feelers for that next job opportunity. As career professionals, we are also always building our networks in our role as connectors to opportunity.
On the college side, career professionals are no longer the placement offices of decades past, nor are we solely student developers. Today our role is to be expert facilitators who know how to identify expertise and opportunity in many forms. We do, of course, still connect individual students to jobs, but we also connect employers with faculty, current students with alumni, prospective students with outcomes information, and university administration with research on the latest trends on employment. We stand at the crossroads of student success, institutional promise, and the job market.
On the employer side, our recruiter colleagues have also become expert opportunity creators. They do not just represent their organizations at fairs, but design innovative programming and marketing campaigns to build brand awareness among current and future recruits. They use social media, sponsorship, and a personal touch to help their organization stand out from the crowd, and they model the kind of professionalism that new graduates need to emulate.
But the common coin of the field is networking in its best sense. It is the relationships we build and cultivate that allow us all to create more opportunity for students. Our own success as career professionals is also heavily influenced by our ability to connect with and learn from each other.
We are very fortunate to work in a field that is still highly collaborative. While there is certainly competition in very specific markets for both students and positions, our default setting across the career field is to share best practices, generate ideas together, and to support each other in making a case for the importance of our work. This is a huge asset, but sometimes one we do not fully utilize.
Salisbury University, where I work, is a member of the Maryland Career Consortium (MCC), a group of like-minded career offices from colleges and universities across the state whose members collaborate to promote the career profession. I attended my first MCC directors’ roundtable last fall and was so impressed by the group’s commitment to mutual success and advocacy of the profession. My guess is that many people in our field do not realize the work state and regional groups like MCC do to pool resources to better serve students, employers and Career Center staff.
For example, each February, the consortium hosts the joint MCC Career Fair with participation
from 14 campuses and 130+ employers. I had also not really thought about what an advantage groups like this can be for recruiters, who can use these area networks to share job postings with a larger audience, test out ideas, disseminate information, and discover new promotional opportunities.
Additionally, MCC organizes an annual Professional Development Conference for the staff of MCC member institutions and other regional career professionals. By leveraging the consortium’s resources and expertise, we’ve allowed for ready access to professional development and the opportunity to build and strengthen relationships.
If you are not currently connected with a regional or state consortium of this kind, I encourage you to find one and actively engage with it. If your experience is like mine, you’ll be surprised and impressed with the collective wisdom you’ll find there. A consortium can be an important part of your widening network and a great way to keep from being isolated in your own organizational environment. If you are a recruiter, it is a terrific resource for taking the pulse of the campuses that are most important to you, and an efficient way to maximize your exposure. If you are a campus professional, it is an easy way to build an inner circle of professionals that you can trust to give you advice and feedback.
The more our overlapping network grows, the stronger our profession becomes. So make the most of the networking opportunities in your backyard by connecting with your colleagues in local and regional consortia. Let’s connect, collaborate and create new opportunities.
Aaron Basko is Assistant Vice President for Enrollment Management and Career Services at Salisbury University where he leads Career Services, Admissions, and Financial Aid. He is the author of two career development books What’s Your Function? (2014) and Help Wanted (2012), both published by Judson Press. Aaron has written for Career Developments Magazine, Career Convergence, Campus Life, Student Affairs Leader, and Recruitment and Retention. His passion is to help people discover who they are and imagine who they could become.