The connection between education and career is a significant priority for students. According to the 2017 Freshman Survey, published by the Cooperative Institutional Research Program (co-ordinated by the Higher Educational Research Institute at UCLA), 85% of entering students are motivated to attend college by the opportunity to secure a better job following graduation. Economic factors are increasingly becoming the primary driver of college participation.
While most students have access to career services, those who are juggling work, school and extracurricular activities often find it difficult to find the time to access them. Consequently, universities, in particular career services, must find ways to meet students where they are – in the classroom.
In March of this year, career professionals from 16 countries came together in Toronto for the Global Career Services Summit. Integrating career into the curriculum was a hot topic. This blog will share advice on how to do this at your institution based on the conversations that took place.
Creating a shared language
As career professionals, we must remember that curriculum is the purview of faculty. An effective way to influence our faculty colleagues is through a thorough well-reasoned paper highlighting as much relevant data as possible. At the University of Kansas (KU), we reviewed the relevant literature and leveraged professional experience to create the KU Employability Curriculum. The KU Employability Curriculum is a plan to guide students toward lifetime employability that is founded upon previous academic and practical work, with examples. The KU Employability Curriculum provides a framework for faculty and career professionals to follow when examining and discussing how best to prepare students for post-graduate professional outcomes.
“How often have career services professionals heard from faculty members, “Teaching career or employability is not my job.”
The creation of a career or employability model creates a shared language around career for your institution. Once this has been established, campus career professionals can create learning outcomes for each dimension or competency included in the model. This step is important as it ties campus partners together to further the discussion of integrating career into the curriculum.
How often have career services professionals heard from faculty members, “Teaching career or employability is not my job.” Kate Daubney, King’s College London, shared at the Global Career Services Summit that instead of beginning conversations with faculty by asking them to include employability in their courses, we should help them identify what in their courses already contributes to the career success of students. Once we identify and categorize these points of employability, faculty members have fewer concerns over additional work preparing course content. Also, identifying existing career content addresses the belief that career content is irrelevant to their course or the perception that career content will result in a reduction in academic rigour.
It is important for career professionals to take time to creatively prepare for and have conversations with faculty members about integrating career into the formal curriculum. This might include offering examples of in-class assignments that faculty can use with students or connecting learning outcomes from career competencies with faculty members’ course content.
There are many ways institutions can leverage career courses. They can be specific to a field of study or they can be more general in nature. A growing number of institutions are creating career courses that are taught and administered by the career centre. Traditionally, career courses have been in person and focused on career exploration or job search. A growing number of career courses are being offered online through platforms such as Blackboard and Canvas to address student limitations regarding availability. Work with instructors and designers to include the institutional career model as individual courses are created and administered.
Career services professionals should be the career experts on campus, and that should include how career fits into the curriculum, particularly since the majority of students attend college for career reasons.