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NACE 2017: Lessons from Las Vegas


uConnect @ NACE 2017: Las Vegas

We’re still glowing from our incredible time at last week's NACE (National Association of Colleges and Employers) conference in Las Vegas. A midst the ubiquitous buffets and roulette tables, thousands of attendees from the higher education industry and some of their biggest and best employer partners came together with their ideas and enthusiasm to forge new partnerships while supporting career readiness.

The uConnect team flew in late Monday evening from Boston (after multiple delayed flights) and set up shop in the Paris Casino & Conference Center, with the goal of connecting with, and learning from, some of the most forward-thinking career center professionals and partner vendors in the field.

What we learned…

A Push Toward Earlier

Although career centers have traditionally focused on facilitating opportunities for juniors and seniors, there is a palpable shift into how to engage students earlier in their campus journeys. Multiple presentations spoke to the need for this specific transformation in the profession, sharing strategies for more inclusive marketing and communications, new programs for underclassmen, and in some cases, a shift in the overall service design of the Career Services office.

A New Recipe: Purposeful Engagement

With "earlier" being a major topic of conversation, we also engaged in conversations focused on efforts to inform career pathways. It may be surprising, but initiatives to encourage collaboration between, or even combine, the career and academic advising offices stood out as a new recipe for student success.

Encouraging students to choose classes based on the necessary skills needed to achieve a desired career - rather than a class's meeting time, how a professor is rated, or which friends are taking it - and linking those classes and areas of interest to career exploration, and even specific employers who can provide those future opportunities, is a dream for some offices.

We also even saw some offices working specifically with student life to inform students about campus clubs, activities and volunteer programs can be value added given different career ambitions.

Las Vegas is overwhelming

The strip is a wild place, and so was NACE. There were so many concurrent sessions that it was hard for us and for some of our network to attend every event we wanted to, even with a full team in attendance.

An approach we’ll be using next time is: be prepared, and do your research early to get the most out of the conference. Spread out your resources and team to different parts of the event that you think will be interesting and valuable. Whether that be the various vendors you want to work with, or all the speakers and sessions you want to attend, early preparation is the key to NACE success. Encouraging career exploration before a students even step foot into the career center by making career services a bigger part of the student experience can offer enormous potential value to a student's journey - just as early engagement is emerging as a key to student success ;)


Please share any thoughts you have with me here:

If you'd like to connect with us about your time at NACE or share ideas about reaching students earlier, schedule a time here.

Some of our favorite NACE 2017 sessions…

  • “Early Pipelines & Early Deadlines” presented by Kevin Grubb & Maggie Songer of Villanova
  • “Building a Brand Using Your Smartphone Camera” by Matthew Stackowicz, Bethel College – Indiana
  • “Transforming Career Centers Through Service Design” by Amber Graham, University of Rochester & Iyad Uakoub, Stanford University
  • “Career Center Marketing” the uConnect team! *shameless self promotion*


Increasing Reach & Impact with Streamlined Content
The Career Center Redefined: How uConnect Cofounder David Kozhuk is Helping Students Find Their Calling Sooner

About Author

Ed McDonald
Ed McDonald

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