“It is truly harder now for young adults to get a job. And there are fewer ‘good’ jobs out there,” said Andy Chan, vice president for personal and career development at Wake Forest University. So he argued that career development should become mission-critical at colleges and universities.
Chan has been making that happen at Wake Forest, which has positive post-graduation outcome plus employability for life as part of its value proposition. The Office of Personal and Career Development helps students develop clarity of direction, job search and professional competencies, personal and professional connections, and confidence to navigate the future. “The goal is strategic career outcomes for every student. That’s the new value proposition,” said Chan.
Chan said that making career development mission-critical has to start at the top, with the president, and it helps a lot if the head is a cabinet-level position. Maximum success requires bringing in a new model, new people, new branding, and a new office. “Career Services must die,” said Chan (referencing the name). “You can’t put a new operation inside the old shell.”
Other tips from Chan:
—Align the mission of the office with the mission of the college, because the language matters.
—Activate the entire university network of influencers and connectors, because it takes a lot of cross-university collaboration.
—Do continuous marketing to highlight outcomes, success stories, and metrics.
Chan also noted that “it won’t cut it” to talk about outcomes as if the learning is ethereal and it all just works out. Instead, make the general argument for the liberal arts more specific by talking about how learning outcomes happen at your college.