IU Board of Trustees hears update on career counseling strategies

The Indiana University Board of Trustees heard an update from leaders across several IU campuses about strategies and initiatives aimed at integrating career advising into students' lives.

"IU educates students for almost any career they want to pursue," Executive Vice President for University Academic Affairs John Applegate said. "Our career advising programs make that critical connection between educational experience and career pathway. Connecting students and careers is a priority for every campus and the university as a whole."

Jessica Baker at a career counseling conferenceView print quality image
Jessica Baker, an academic advisor in the IU East School of Humanities and Social Sciences, participates in the 2018 EDGE conference held in May at IUPUI. Photo courtesy of IUPUI's Division of Undergraduate Education

Rebecca Torstrick, senior assistant vice president for university academic affairs and director of the Office of Completion and Student Success, described the university's work through Career EDGE -- Exploration, Development, Graduation, Employment -- a Lilly-funded initiative to build career modules that faculty can embed in their coursework.

"Career EDGE is an effort to use our learning management system in a new way to bring career knowledge directly to students by allowing faculty to embed career content and skills directly into their courses if they choose," Torstrick said. "Now, we're in the midst of turning it into a self-enrolling version so that, regardless of whether it's part of a course, students will be able to access it. They're very practical modules that walk students through creating a resume, interview practices, creating a network."

Misti Jones, assistant director of IU Southeast's Career Development Center and a career coach/employer liaison, highlighted her campus's work with the Advising Center for Exploratory Students, focused on ensuring beginning undergraduate students find a career path early in their academic career.

"Our statistics show that about 40 percent of beginning undergraduate students drop out in the first year if they remain undecided on a major, so it's important to get with them early so they've got a clearly marked path and know why they're here," she said.

On the IU Southeast campus, she said, that involves a three-pronged approach that includes hosting an exploratory section at orientation, a summer workshop and, if students still haven't declared a major by the end of their first semester, a one-credit career course in the spring that is intended to further their decision-making process.

Our vision is to make career preparation and planning an unavoidable component of our undergraduate student experience by embedding our programs and services within the student academic experience.

Joe Lovejoy

Joe Lovejoy, IU Bloomington College of Arts and Sciences' director of career services, shared updates on the College's new career support initiative, the Walter Center for Career Achievement. The career services office was built around the unique career development needs of liberal arts students.

"Our vision is to make career preparation and planning an unavoidable component of our undergraduate student experience by embedding our programs and services within the student academic experience," he said.

Lovejoy provided an overview of the center's career community model, which helps students connect their chosen liberal arts disciplines to meaningful work opportunities through interactions with a network of alumni volunteers. He also discussed the center's academic advisor cross-training program which, to date, has equipped 25 of the College of Arts and Sciences' roughly 40 academic advisors with training in career coaching best practices.

"Our goal is to get as many people as possible involved in supporting our students' career development, and our academic advisors are often a students' first stop when discussing career-related issues," Lovejoy said. "Our cross-training program helps us ensure that when the career conversation takes place, our academic advisors are well-prepared to engage students in a meaningful coaching conversation."

Meanwhile, IUPUI has begun to share survey information from its students who've earned degrees. That information is publicly available on the IUPUI Career Services website.

"We're now able to be completely transparent with students, employers and other stakeholders regarding what our students do after graduation," said Matthew Rust, senior executive director of campus career and advising services with IUPUI's Division of Undergraduate Education. "This empowers students to make better-informed decisions as they explore majors and careers and as they negotiate starting salaries; it enables employers to appreciate the full range of majors that might serve as preparation for the fields they are recruiting for; and it communicates to our stakeholders throughout the state that an IUPUI education provides excellent return on investment."