EACE contribution by Carol Crosby, Assistant Director in Career Services at Bridgewater State University.
If you have been following my blog postings, you will know that our office had developed a new mission to help students learn professional skills. We had begun to intentionally incorporate specific skill development and practice into our workshops and programs.
At the same time, we also needed to review our on-line resources for skill development. Although we had posted our new mission statement online, we had yet to look for opportunities for skill development through our social media sites.
At this point, I was in the process of moving our alumni networking program from an old-fashioned looking database to LinkedIn. This was the perfect time to add a learning opportunity for students.
As I was creating this new LinkedIn site, I made a list of skills students needed to connect professionally with our alumni. I wanted our students to:
- Create a polished LinkedIn profile
- Know how to appropriately use a social media site
- Use appropriate etiquette when networking with an alumnus
- Prepare a professional discussion thread with appropriate responses in the discussion thread
- Message alumni in an appropriate manner
This list led me to create a webpage on our main website that our students view before they join the LinkedIn site. On this page, they can see a great sample of a student profile on Linked, created by the LinkedIn group; read a list of Group Rules for using the site as well as networking with alumni, view a sample of a Discussion thread; and read a sample of a well-written Message requesting a networking opportunity with an alumnus.
In addition, as site manager, now that our BSU Student and Alumni Networking Group on LinkedIn is live, I recommend a variety of actions to individual students participating on the site, as needed, from attending a Networking Appointment so a counselor may review their LinkedIn profile to recommendations for rewriting a discussion thread.
By taking these steps, our office is now not only providing a site for students to network with alumni, we were also intentionally providing a social media classroom for learning networking skills that will serve them well in their future professional roles.
Our new, more skill-directed approach in our office now reminds me of this quote, whose origin is unknown:
If you give a man a fish you feed him for a day.
If you teach a man to fish you feed him for a lifetime.
So, now we have expanded our breadth of opportunities for students to learn skills on social media and you can, too, by following the below-listed steps.
Developing a Student to Professional Project in your own Career Services Office
- Add the learning and practicing of professional skills to your office’s mission statement;
- Survey employers, faculty and staff in your community to determine these skills;
- Create a list of skills necessary for your students’ professional development;
- Review your office’s materials, on-line presence and programming for missing opportunities for skill development;
- Intentionally create active learning and practicing opportunities for specific skill development.
In my next blog, I will provide examples of adding skill development to our final resource – the materials we hand to our students.
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.