We did it. As a field, we converted all our services into a virtual service model with a moment’s notice. One day we were on campus, and the next all our appointments were taking place via Zoom. Now, we must ask ourselves, how well are we doing this? How do we continue preparing our students for an uncertain economy?
Career services is a social justice-focused field – it’s one of our core values as a profession to promote equity, and to help to level the playing field for our students who may lack social capital. During these challenging times, it’s more important than ever that we serve our students and make decisions grounded in that principle to ensure equal access and opportunities for our students.
Explore Availability of Campus Resources & Emergency Fund Options
The disruption in the academic year has proven that not all our students have the resources at home to make the unanticipated jump to distance learning and virtually accessing campus. The students who need the most support may not have the ability to easily access all our resources that have gone virtual.
Take the time to review what options are available to support students who may need additional mental health, or financial assistance right now. At Hofstra University, our emergency fund has been used to provide students with funding needed for technology or other educational related expenses, the Pride Pantry is supporting students with food insecurity, the Student Health & Counseling Center is still seeing students using telehealth technology - and the Career Center has been referring students to each of these resources and others throughout the past several weeks.
Review Your Student Data & Create an Outreach Strategy
A student may have been working toward a specific career goal with an advisor prior to the disruption. Now is a great time for advisors to outreach to the students they were working with. You can send a targeted e-mail or pick up the phone in between appointments to see how the student is doing, and to provide reassurance that support – and opportunities - are still available.
Another population of students that require outreach right are those students who have not previously utilized the Career Center. We know graduating students are anxious about the economy and need help. But we feared that if they hadn’t used our services while we were on campus, they may not seek out our assistance on their own right now. So, we created a targeted campaign to encourage the students who had registered for graduation but who hadn’t previously utilized our services to come in for a “pre-graduation” check-in. Within the same afternoon, over 60 of those students had scheduled an appointment.
Provide programming and services both synchronously and asynchronously
With students in various time zones, it’s important to offer career readiness opportunities when all students can access them. We have continued to offer employer programming during our university’s common hour and have begun to record these sessions, so they are accessible for those who are unable to log into the session synchronously. We also have had a great response from students by offering asynchronous e-mail resume and LinkedIn profile reviews. This allows students in different time zones or those who are unable to log into zoom the ability to still access our services.
Continue Internal Partnerships
Relationships with faculty and colleagues across campus are imperative for creating a culture of career readiness during normal times – but are especially important right now in reaching students who may be too overwhelmed to seek out an opportunity to engage with career services. Throughout this crisis we have worked with faculty, colleagues in Student Affairs, and our alumni relations office to coordinate practice virtual interviews with students for students across campus. We have also continued to offer classroom presentations and our Employers in the Classroom program to assure that all students have access to our career readiness curriculum. Alumni Relations is helping us connect our students with successful alumni who graduated during an economic downturn. We’ve also partnered with our Commuter Student Services and University Relations to have career content hosted in newsletters and University-wide social media over the next few weeks.
It takes a village to assure our students are prepared to enter this uncertain economy, and it is our responsibility as career services professionals to make sure our students are ready for success.
Michelle L. Kyriakides, Ed.D., is the Executive Director of the Career Center at Hofstra University
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