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Engaging Students Earlier in their Journey


Engagement with Career Services can have enormous impact on the student experience. The frequent perception of incoming students is that career resources and programming is more geared toward students ready for the job search, not starting life as a newly minted college student. As career educators, you know how monumental the influence of career programming and resources can be - especially when it happens early in the college journey - and yet transactional activities like interview prep, resume review, and preparing actual applications can seem irrelevant, and even anxiety provoking, for students who don’t yet identify as 'career ready.'  

Consider this: If a student first engages with the career center their junior year, it's likely they've let two years pass without giving much consideration to what they might want to do upon graduation. Without career pathways in mind as Freshmen, students might overlook relevant coursework, early internships and important connections with alumni mentors. As a sophmore, engagement with student clubs and experiential opportunities that support relevant career pathways can come and go. Without early engagement, it becomes nearly impossible for students to make the most of the valuable resources and services their school offers that, as we've seen so many times, can have such a profound impact on personal, academic and career outcomes for students..

Earlier this summer, at the NACE17 Conference, we raised the question of 'how do you do engage students earlier in their journey' with a number of Career Service professionals. Some of the responses we received focused on initiatives to provide joint programming with other departments (FYE, Advising, Faculty),  and a number of career educators also viewed the 'earlier' challenge as an opportunity to change the existing assumptions about the role of career services on campus.  

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Specifically, we heard from career departments carrying out all sorts of creative, resourceful, and innovative strategies to engage students in thinking about career exploration from the moment they enroll.

Some of the fantastic examples from our NACE conversations:

  • Connect with student club leaders to leverage their wealth of specialized, peer-perspectives (BYU)
  • Pilot a career exploration-focused first-year experience program (see UCLA, above)
  • Partner with faculty, advising, and others to help promote an accurate representation of career services (see University of Central Florida, above)
  • Career services presentations during orientation (IUPUI -Science)
  • Facilitate workshops for high school seniors (IUPUI - Infomatics)
  • Incorporating career exploration resources into career courses in conjunction with retention initiatives (University of Arizona)
  • Use humor to relate to students organically (University of New England)
  • Couple assessments with career exploration workshops 
  • Helping Freshmen and Sophomores create career discovery road maps (Colby College, above)
  • Career Development 101 Courses for Freshman (Bentley University)
  • Setting career services engagement goals as early as first year (Pace University)
  • First year Freshman internship orientation program (NYU Abu Dhabi)
  • Starting at orientation, partnering with faculty (Pittsburgh Technical College)
  • Meeting students 'where they're at,' like student clubs and social settings (UNH)
  • Guiding Sophomore 'expeditions' (Cedar Crest, click the image below!!)

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Comment below to get the conversation going or reach out to us directly to learn more

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Hannah Chouinard
Hannah Chouinard

A talented marketer, wordsmith and culture curator