Our blog series, CoffeeBreak Conversations, is meant to be read in less time than it takes you to enjoy a cup of your favorite break-time beverage. We'll be interviewing members of the career and education technology ecosystem and sharing their different perspectives, experiences, and predictions for our industry. Stay tuned!
In this second installment of the series, we caught up with Rick Delvecchio, Director of Career Development at Quinnipiac University College of Arts & Sciences (QU CAS) in Hamden Connecticut.
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At QU A&S, you worked with the faculty advising team to integrate academic and career advising. How long did that process take, and what advice would you give to other schools looking to do the same?
All in, the planning process took about two years and we’re still refining and training. My best advice for other schools looking to integrate in this way is to get buy-in from the Dean or Provost first, and then find formal and informal ways to give the faculty a voice in the process before you do anything else. This initiative was tied to our strategic plan so we had overall buy-in at that level. Ultimately, we did well because faculty had input from day one in helping to set expectations, processes, and tools. They weren’t surprised by anything, they had flexibility in how to implement it, and nothing was forced on them.
After the last academic year, what kind of responses have you gotten from your advising team and students? How does the feedback loop work when so many people are involved?
So far, the response has been very positive from both students and faculty. For us the feedback loop runs through the advisors to an advising committee consisting of faculty representing each academic area, administration, and career staff. The student feedback is directly with their advisor and we hope the relationship is such that they can mutually agree on changes as they go to best suit the student’s experience. I also interact constantly with students through one-on-one appointments, present in classrooms, and participate in all faculty and department chair meetings, so I get informal feedback on a regular basis to make minor adjustments as needed. We are currently working on a more formal assessment process that will be tied to the NACE competencies.
What trends in career services do you anticipate for the 2018/2019 academic year?
I think we’ll see an embrace of a more holistic view of career services that acknowledges that a lot of career advising is already happening around the university. Students are seeking advice from multiple sources already, so we should listen to that. It’s better for us to empower, inform, and partner in some way with our colleagues around campus who are being confronted with these questions than it is to try to restrict all career work to the career center only. We want students to receive accurate information and a consistent message, but it doesn’t need to come from only one office. We can’t stick to the 100% “don’t worry about it, refer them to us” model any longer--and most of us aren’t adequately staffed for that anyway. This kind of in-depth collaboration will be feasible in different forms and with differing degrees of formality in different environments, but I’m already seeing it and I expect it to keep growing.
What’s next for QUAS Career Services?
Next for us is the constant updating and evolution of the online resources and in-person training for our faculty advisors. In addition to the basic advising training we have for new faculty, we are developing a series of “lunch and learn” topical mini-trainings throughout the year, as well as a more in-depth and formal “CAS Career Certification” faculty training that will be optional.
Who's someone you'd like to sit down with for a CoffeeBreak Conversation? (related or not related to career services, real, fictional, living or not!)
I’m not sure a coffee break would be long enough, but I’d love to talk to Leonardo daVinci (and some credit him with writing the first resume, so it even has a career tie-in!). I spend a lot of time looking at where careers are predicted to head in the next 20-30 years and some of the skills that made him so successful—creativity mixed with technical skills, curiosity, broad based knowledge, and adaptability to change—seem like the most commonly cited skills for the future. I’d love to hear his thoughts on how to train students for a future like that. I’d also like to know how he pulled off the Mona Lisa’s smile!
What aspect of the uConnect platform has been most helpful in streamlining academic & career services integration and delivery?
For us it’s the ability to aggregate information thematically in the Career Communities. The two biggest obstacles for faculty to overcome in order to take on career advising were that they didn’t feel they had enough time overall, or enough career knowledge in areas outside their expertise. Most had only 20-30 minutes per student and reported that they would often spend 15-20 of those minutes sorting through five different systems and locations for information to answer the basic questions students posed.
With uConnect, we are able to easily share content and resources by community (academic departments in our case) so they could simply go to their department page and find all the info they needed, as well as links to the other systems we use across the university. We were then able to design our career resources as more in-depth training tools which allowed both student and faculty users to have quick access to basic questions, but also learn in more depth while they used the system. Since students and faculty shared the same view as users, this meant that the act of searching itself became a learning experience for students. Working with students to find the answer to a question during a session allowed faculty to model the information-seeking behavior we want the students to take ownership of as they progress.