Can you be a career champion?
We want each student to develop their career aspirations and move toward their career goals, but we can’t meet the needs of 14,000 undergraduate and graduate students alone. As a College of Arts + Sciences faculty member, you’re already well-positioned to make an impact on students’ career readiness through your time spent in the classroom and the trust your students already have in you.
Get started by incorporating these career development strategies into your classroom:
Alumni Stories: A Great First Step in Career Development
The skills developed in a liberal arts curriculum prepare students for a seemingly endless variety of careers, but often this is overwhelming to students who don’t know where to begin. We recommend showing students in the early stages of career development what career paths alumni of the degree program have taken.
The goal is to never be prescriptive or limiting but to provide inspiration and examples to students who haven’t made many decisions about the world of work. If a student is interested in an alum’s career path, it’s a great launching point to further career exploration and research. Likewise, if they’re disinterested it can be a helpful way for them to rule out potential careers or industries from future consideration.
Either way, exposing students to different careers is a great way to kick start their career decision-making. Use these strategies to incorporate the career paths of your department’s alumni into your courses:
- Tell stories about past students who are now doing interesting work inside and outside of the discipline.
- Host a Career Panel featuring former students in a variety of careers. Or even just a Zoom call with one alum doing interesting work!
- Help connect your current students to your former students and make introductions.
- Talk about your own career trajectory — even if your students aren’t interested in academia, there’s much to be learned from everyone’s individual career development stories.
- Assign your students to conduct an Informational Interview with a professional in a career of interest to them using this assignment.
Articulating Skills: A Key Component to a Successful Job Search
Employers across the country are polled every year on what skills are most important to them when hiring college graduates and each year, the same transferrable skills make the top of the list: written and verbal communication, problem-solving, ability to work in a team, initiative, analytical and quantitative skills, work ethic, leadership, and detail-orientation.
Students develop many of these skills through their liberal arts majors but don’t always know how to articulate them in resumes and cover letters or when interacting with employers in career fairs and job interviews. Help students connect the dots and get them thinking about the skills they learn in class:
- Articulate the transferrable skills from your courses in your syllabus alongside your learning outcomes.
- Invite a representative from the Walter Center to visit your course and work with students to articulate the skillsets derived from your course for use in resumes, cover letters, and at career fairs.
- Require your students to visit the Walter Center for a 1:1 resume critique with a career coach to practice articulating the skillsets learned through your course and their liberal arts curriculum. Contact Justin Zuschlag, Senior Associate Director, Career Education, to organize this assignment.
- Partner with an employer to develop projects and assessments that require students to apply their learning to real or simulated industry problems. Contact Will Reed, Senior Associate Director, Employer Relations, to connect with employers.
Employer and Alumni Networking: The Highest Impact Practice Most Students Avoid
It’s estimated more than 85% of open positions are filled through networking, but many students are hesitant to engage directly with the alumni and employers that can connect them with these opportunities.
One of our goals at the Walter Center is to ensure students are comfortable and skilled networkers. We also want to reframe networking as a necessary and genuine way to engage professionally throughout the world of work. Students are able to interact with thousands of alumni and employers through IU networks, and doing so will exponentially increase their chances of getting full-time employment after graduation. Encourage students to practice networking with alumni and employers:
- Require or incentivize your students to attend a Walter Center program, such as a Career Fair or alumni event – the Walter Center can verify attendance from your classes.
- Invite a representative from the Walter Center to visit your course and showcase how online networking tools, such as the Walter Center Success Network or LinkedIn, can help students in their job search.
- Require your students to conduct an Informational Interview with an alum through the Walter Center Success Network, our personalized networking tool for students and alumni in the College of Arts + Sciences using this assignment.
- Partner with the Walter Center to develop a Liberal Arts Impact event for your department. Contact Justin Zuschlag, Senior Associate Director, Career Education, to organize an event.
The following handouts detailing Walter Center Services and instructions on attending Virtual Events at IU with Handshake can be printed out or added to your Canvas site.