We recently took part in Career Leadership Collective's online accelerator session, Deeper Connections between Academic Advising and Career Services, which explored why and how schools are attempting to bridge the important gap between, you guessed it, academic advising and career services departments. For those interested in the topic but unable to attend the accelerator, we've summed up our takeaways below: As we wrote in last week's blog, Career Services Best Practices: 5 Reasons for Advising Collaboration there's no shortage of justification for why career and academic advising need to get on the same page. And while it's not realistic to expect everyone to cozy up and start sharing offices (or job descriptions), the accelerator's panelists, Amjad Ayoubi, from Tulane University, Jo Chytka from University of Wyoming and Carla Harcelroad from Portland State, offered salient advice and simple steps to ensure that both career and academic advisors work together to offer students more holistic and integrated support:
- Clearly communicate the 'why': One panelist said it best, "We've gone in this direction because, to help student succeed, our faculty and academic advisors needed to be able to answer the common question from students: What can I do with this major?"
- Keep it simple to start: Gaining institutional support and budget resources to build deep connections between academic advising and career services isn't easy and will likely happen over time. In the meantime, start with simple, foundational steps like making sure there is open dialogue and frequent conversations between career and academic advisors through shared programming, staff retreats and transparent strategy and planning.
- The importance of shared resources as an important early step: Panelists stressed the importance of developing a common digital presence to integrate shared resources so that career resources, in particular, were more visible to faculty and academic advisors. Start by asking: Can we just make it easier for students to FIND and access academic and career information in one place?
- In response to a question about how to build courage to lead a staff through change: One panelist said: "Remember, someone will always be mad at you for something but, at the end of the day, we have to do what is best for our students."
- On supporting staff through change and gaining buy-in: Everyone agreed that professional development for staff is hugely important. If formal cross-training isn't an option, creating online toolkits with basic resources to educate staff about the principles and strategies for providing more integrated support is a valuable interim step. Send email updates to staff regularly with new resources to help them stay current on best practices. As one panelist suggested, to build staff buy-in, don't overlook the importance of setting clear expectations for advisors, starting in your job descriptions.
- The word "Retention" was used a lot. As career services raises its profile on campus, their work becomes more commonly associated with strategic University initiatives including retention, recruitment and revenue -- as if there needed to be more of an incentive to evolve our outdated career services delivery models.
- For those beyond implementation and thinking about scaling integrated advising: Thinking about providing both reactive and proactive support will drive earlier engagement and allow you to reach students who might not otherwise engage.
We can't wait to join @CareerLeadershp for their other upcoming online accelerators which will look at making connections between enrollment and advancement respectively, and of course, for their fall forum AMPLIFY, taking place in Nashville in Novemeber. Stay tuned!