Creating a Career Services/Classroom Partnership
By Jo-Ann Raines, Director, Career Development Services, NJ Institute of Technology
Another academic year is upon us. One of the challenges often facing career services offices is building strong relationships with academic departments. A strong relationship can help students to become aware of Career Services and career planning. At NJIT we have formed an alliance with the College of Computing Sciences (CCS) that has been mutually beneficial for all.
In the fall of 2011, the undergraduate academic advisor in CCS expressed her concern that her second year students were not as strong as they could be in self-marketing skills and general business savvy. She proposed a mandatory internship prep course for one credit that would include input from and interaction with Career Services. Held in the spring of 2012, the first group of 90 students in three course sections attended Career Services workshops that focused on resume writing, interviewing skills, and career fair preparation. Career Services staff visited each of the sections and critiqued each student’s resume. Participants were also directed to online tutorials for interviewing. Mandatory attendance at the spring career fair was an additional requirement for the course.
Since 2011, the College of Computing Sciences and Career Services have worked closely to continue to grow this program. The second-year course has grown to include internship and co-op preparation as well as mandatory attendance at Career Services’ programming such as the Sophomore Success Workshop Series. As a final requirement, the students wrote reflection papers on their experience in the course and what they learned.
The program has also expanded to a mandatory senior level one-credit career development course. As part of this course, students are required to participate in Career Services’ events such as Practice Interviews with Employers, Career Fair Preparation Workshops, and the Senior Workshop Series. Career advisors facilitate some of the in-person class meetings and students are encouraged to meet with their career advisor.
CCS now has a means of exposing its students to career preparation that is tied to their course work and makes them better candidates for internships as well as full time positions. Career Services has a cadre of students who are now aware of our services and programs through firsthand experience and also augmented its pool of students for computer-related co-op positions. The students have grown in confidence in their ability to compete for positions they desire. Students now have a better idea of how the classroom and experiential learning interact. The university’s reward is a new retention tool for second year students who are at risk of leaving but now have an incentive to remain. Students understand the connection between classroom and career, and are motivated to succeed in co-op, internship, and full-time positions.