For the second straight year, Bentley Unviersity in Waltham, MA has been ranked within the Top 5 Career Centers nationwide by Princeton Review as part of their annual college guide, “The Best 379 Colleges.”Bentley was ranked #4 in the 2015 edition after holding the #3 designation in the 2014 ranking. The rankings are based on over 130,000 student surveys conducted by Princeton Review, in which students are asked 80 questions about their school, ranging from academics to the student body on campus.
The national recognition signifies Bentley’s differentiated approach to engage students in Career Exploration that focuses on a journey beginning when students enter as a freshman and continues even as they graduate and become alumni.
Recently, Farouk Dey of Stanford and Christine Cruzvergara of George Mason authored a paper noting the “10 Future Trends in College Career Services” and it’s no surprise that Bentley’s success can be tied to the school’s ability to understand and leverage these trends. Here are a few of the trends as noted by Dey and Cruzvergara:
- Elevated Career Services
Colleges are understanding the importance of Career Services to the health of the entire institution and are giving Career Services leadership increased influence. Schools are starting to anoint Vice Presidents and Deans of Career and Professional Development that are working across the organization to gain buy-in for their programs.
- Customized Connections & Communities
As a product of the elevated Career Center, the customized connections & communities approach focuses on leveraging the entire University network to facilitate Career Exploration. Career Services Offices can help establish meaningful connections with employers, alumni, and faculty rather than being the sole source of Career advice, thereby acting as a “hub of connectivity” for more tailored feedback for students.
- Buzz Worthiness
In the same approach as any company with its target audience, the branding of the Career Center is essential to its effectiveness on campus and how it resonates with students. To quote Dey and Cruzvergara, “an effective brand resides within the hearts and minds of our students, employers, alumni, faculty, families, and many other stakeholders. It becomes the sum total of their experiences and perceptions.” There are many items fighting for students’ attention, and strong branding by the Career Center is necessary in engaging students and driving proactive career exploration behavior.
- New Technology
Higher education, and specifically Career Services, has not historically been driven by technology innovation, but the emergence of social media has changed the way in which millennial students engage with members of their community. Forward-thinking Career Centers are able to understand how students are communicating and are able to organically reach students in this manner, further driving the career exploration conversation.
Once again, Bentley’s approach resonates directly with these points. Their HIRE Education program has two career development seminar classes that get students thinking about their careers from when they start school as a freshman.
The entire institution has “bought-in” to this career-focused approach, and it is displayed through how the University brands itself on the whole. The university’s PreparedU project is a commissioned market research study examining how prepared graduating students are for the working world, and what steps do colleges and universities need to take to help bridge the gap from education to employment.
Finally, the school has embraced new technology, with a focus on engaging and communicating with students. With email alerts, real-time content, and social media integration on their website, Bentley has continually been able to engage students and help them develop professional development behaviors that will serve them well after they graduate.
In working with Career Services Offices across the country, our team at uConnect has similarly seen these trends evolve and become exponentially more important as colleges are faced with continually higher expectations about the “employability” of their students post-graduation. Our technology solutions are geared towards helping Career Services Offices better engage with students and create a buzz both on campus and externally.