Career services in Canadian colleges support students in managing and taking responsibility for their career paths. They also support academics in helping students apply the value of their academic experiences to their future careers. Fanshawe College, located in London, ON, offers a unique model that has been highly successful in helping students and graduates find jobs.
This model was recognized in a CERIC-funded study by PSE Information Systems in 2016/2017, which named Fanshawe’s Career Services the most impressive overall in Canadian post-secondary colleges. The study, “Insights into Canadian Post-Secondary Institutions,” sought to identify Canadian Colleges and Universities with “impressive models” of service delivery measured on four criteria:
- Evaluate services regularly
- Measure outcomes
- Are proactive in delivery and
- Collaborate with campus stakeholders
Fanshawe’s Career Services department encompasses career services, co-operative education, community employment services (Employment Ontario) and student entrepreneurial services (LEAP Junction), all under one senior manager. We offer a holistic approach to student employment supports throughout the student life cycle from pre-admissions (CES), to admissions (co-op and career), to graduation (career, entrepreneurial Services and CES). The team works harmoniously with employers, students and alumni to deliver comprehensive services. Fanshawe stood out in the study with three key items: a holistic approach, Ignite – the student career conference and Don’t Cancel that Class.
“We offer a holistic approach to student employment supports throughout the student life cycle …”
Recognized best practices
- An annual Employment and Student Entrepreneurial Report Card. The Report Card identifies student interactions, jobs posted, employers recruited, co-op hiring rates, number of student-created start-ups, graduate employment rates and more. This report card is presented to the Academic Leadership Team and the Fanshawe Student Union to demonstrate the value add of Career Services.
- We share an annual list of job postings on the student job board sorted by program and school, so our academic partners can see the numbers of employers that are seeking their students.
- We offer a variety of workshops and often review the return on investment for delivery of certain workshops through student surveys and attendance records.
- This year, we are evaluating the use of our interview software program with a PhD from the University of Prince Edward Island to see if it alleviates or increases anxiety about interviews.
- We recently initiated a Tuesday-Thursday drop-in service for students to see career consultants on duty. This service was created after we realized that students would make appointments, but would not return for them; now we ensure if they have a need, it is met immediately. The service is now going on the road to area campuses to guarantee their career service is just as high-calibre as it is on the London campus.
- The co-operative education programs are monitored and evaluated regularly for relevancy to labour market, quality of work terms and currency of pre-work term course information.
- A key example of proactive delivery is our signature event, Ignite. Ignite is a daylong career and leadership conference for our students delivered at no cost to them. The idea was for students to appreciate the experience of a conference prior to heading into the workforce. The day includes a keynote speaker, concurrent workshops, lunch and an employer panel. This year, the theme of Ignite is Healthy Self, Healthy Career.
- Recognizing that not all students are prepared or can afford to be dressed appropriately for interviews, we solicited clothing from the staff and the campus community and currently offer Career Closet to assist our students in looking their best for that ever-important interview.
- We are one of the few remaining colleges that still conducts work-term visits for students on co-op. We often will bring a career consultant along who the student can transition to working with after co-op on their post-graduation employment.
- Annually we host a dinner for 300 employers to say thank you for hiring our students. It is our way to say thank you, but also to generate new business. We request returning employers bring a new employer with them. We do not hand out employer awards because we believe every employer is valuable.
- We recognized a need for career assessments, so we have recently trained a number of staff on Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, Personality Dimensions, Strong Interest Inventory and Guiding Circles.
- We identified that our Indigenous students were not making use of our services and, even when they visited the First Nations Centre, they were somewhat apprehensive, so we hired an Indigenous career consultant. This individual is of Indigenous heritage and works directly with the First Nations Centre.
- Our most recent campaign is the HIRED Campaign. Every time a student gets a co-op work placement, a part-time job or post-graduate employment, we take their photo at their workplace and post it on our Facebook page. Student photos also rotate on the many monitors throughout the college. Both employers and student are actively engaged with this campaign.
- First, our academic guide, available in both print and online. This guide details all the services we have to support our academic partners.
- The second is “Don’t Cancel that Class.” When academics know in advance that they may have to cancel a class, they can call our consultants to deliver a workshop to students. Topics may range from resumes to the Personality Dimensions assessment. This program is in very high demand and has built strong alliances with our academic partners.
- Community entrepreneurs (students and/or grads) speak to classes of like-minded students on their entrepreneurial experiences through LEAP Talks, and faculty deliver some of the programming to cross-disciplinary students participating in our summer incubator. Additionally, entrepreneurial co-ops are encouraged and co-facilitated by the co-op consultant and the LEAP Junction manager.
We are now exploring the growth of mentorship in the college, expanding our student leadership program and our student career peers programs. We are so proud of the work we do every day, which puts student success at the core of everything we do. Check us out at https://www.fanshawec.ca/student-life/campus-services/employment.