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Your Mission, Should You Choose to Accept It….

Your Mission, Should You Choose to Accept It….

At this point in my EACE Trending blog series on assessment, you have:

  • Found your institution’s strategic goals or priorities and highlighted any language that pertains to your office’s work.

You now need to follow the same procedure and find your division’s priorities and related language. If you are not sure where this information is located, google (or search your internal website) your institution and your division’s title and the word “goals.” You may find a mission, vision, goals and student learning outcomes or your division may have chosen to only create goals or a mission. Once again, highlight any words that defines your office’s work.

For instance, I googled University of Vermont’s Student Affairs Goals” and found a simple and direct mission:

To provide a wide spectrum of programs and services that promote student development and learning. We work together and with our academic colleagues to ensure that all students are healthy, engaged, and successful.

There is some great language in this mission that could be used in a career services office mission: “wide spectrum of programs and services,” “promote,” “development and learning,” “academic colleagues,” and certainly ensuring that students are “successful.”

Once you have the terminology of your environment, all you have to do is work with your staff to weave this language into your office’s mission. For example, a few years ago, I met with the counseling staff in our office and I asked two simple questions:

  1. What do we do for our students?
    What do we want to do for our students?

The staff had some great responses:

  • “We try to be intentional in our work.”
  • “If we can get students to both learn and practice skills, then they are really learning.”
  • “We help students prepare for the transition from a student to a professional role
  • “We help students learn professional skills.”
  • “We try to work with the whole BSU community to help our students.”
  • “We would like to support all students from their first year to their senior year.”

I placed the language I had culled from both our institution’s strategic priorities and our division’s mission and student learning goals on the table. We then worked as a team to combine this language and our responses listed above into a new mission for our office:

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.

As a result of this exercise, we now have a mission statement that not only links to our institution’s priorities and divisional goals, we also have language describing what we do to support our students every day.

I know there are more complex ways of developing a mission, but I am a true believer in making life – and work – as simple as possible.

Stay tuned for my next blog posting: I will explain how we transformed our office through this mission statement.

About the author: Carol Crosby is Assistant Director in Career Services at Bridgewater State University (BSU) in Bridgewater, MA. Her work in higher education has spanned 20 years and she has worked in career services offices for 12 years. She has a M.S. in College Student Personnel from the University of Rhode Island and has attended the HERS Institute at Wellesley College, NACE’s Management Leadership Institute, and the Fulbright International Education Administrators Program in Germany. She has been a member of BSU’s Student Affairs Assessment Committee and has participated on the program review team for accreditation for her office. She presented her office’s approach to assessment as it relates to students’ skill development at NACE’s 2015 Annual Conference in Anaheim, California.

 

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