Willamette University's Career Roadmap Update
by Jerry Houser, Ph.D., Director/Associate Dean, Willimatte University Career Services
November 2012 Update
Our goal: “every graduating senior will have a thoughtful career plan.” This will happen because faculty will assign career planning tasks to all the students in their major.
We recently surpassed the half-way mark. Over 50% of all students at Willamette University will be assigned Career Roadmap career planning assignments by faculty. As the Roadmap snowball rolls along, unforeseen additions stick to it. We picked up support from the academic dean’s office to include The Career Roadmap assignments as part of academic advising, we received funding to create an online training program on professional behavior for all work study students, academic internships are increasingly including Roadmap assignments, the new president’s 5-year university wide strategic plan includes “having a thoughtful career plan” as a core objective, and I just learned that a some faculty are requiring students to complete certain Roadmap assignments before they will write a letter of recommendation for them. These are very encouraging advancements in integrating career planning into the curriculum and college life infrastructure.
Although it has been more successful than I expected, it has not occurred without a few bumps.
In spite of these challenges the dream continues. In the end, The Career Roadmap may look and feel different than it does in these early stages, but if the pace keeps up, it will take only a couple more years before nearly every student will be assigned by faculty to complete up to 10 career planning activities before they graduate, which far surpasses the rate when we began.
This is our last VISTA update and we want to profusely thank the MPACE 3i committee and you the members for your support for this innovation program. We hope this project can serve as a model and provide resources (such as samples, handouts, links and advice) for other colleges who want to engage faculty in more meaningful ways.
I will also be presenting the program at the MPACE conference. See you there.
August 2012 Update
We won three gold medals this summer in The Willamette Career Roadmap Olympics.
Gold Medal 1 – Advising. We are doing the Macarena victory dance right about now because Willamette University is upgrading their Datatel academic advising system and we found a way to put The Career Roadmap on the computer screen that all students and faculty use each semester to do a degree audit. The Roadmap is embedded in our 4-year plan which students and advisors will see and discuss for course registration. Here’s the first draft of the 4-year plan. http://goo.gl/fHDxw. You can see Roadmap links embedded. Faculty and students really like it. The goal: every semester, all students and their faculty advisors will formally discuss co-curricular engagement which includes career planning.
Gold Medal 2 - Classes. At Willamette, all first semester freshmen are required to take a Colloquium class taught by a tenured professor. The courses include topics such as graffiti, infinity, ugly, white weddings, etc. - depends on the professor’s interest. I hoped and hoped, and then it actually happened: the Colloquium professors agreed to assign students the My Credentials section of The Roadmap (resumes) and several will include My Profile (testing and choosing a major). That insures that every entering freshman will have a working resume, take a career test, and start exploring their major.
Gold Medal 3 – Presidential. Willamette’s new President is embracing The Career Roadmap principle that all seniors have a career plan. This will be embedded in the strategic plan. Imagine my surprise, and delight. This provides great momentum for The Roadmap program to be institutionalized. I believe some of the motivation for the president’s goal includes the national conversation about the ROI of a college degree, AND faculty are getting on board with The Roadmap anyway. What a great way to justify college costs - when we can confirm that every graduating senior has a career plan.
We don’t want to be a boutique office; we want to be part of the structure so that career planning is built into classes, advising, and supervision. Students can run (ignore us) but they can’t hide (from professors). They will be assigned Career Roadmap activities in their required courses, during advising sessions, and soon - by supervisors (film at 11 – our next application)
FYI – here’s the Roadmap link: http://www.willamette.edu/dept/careers/pdf/roadmap.pdf
You can join the LinkedIn Career Roadmap discussion group - just look me up on LinkedIn and join. BTW, Oregon State, The University of the Pacific, and Azusa Pacific Online University are very smart people because they are implementing Roadmap-like programs this fall. There may be others….
May 2012 Update
I’ve never had this happen before. I actually knew the names of half the faculty and recognized the faces of another 20% at a recent farewell event for a retiring academic administrator. In bygone days, I would recognize maybe 10% of faculty in the room, but this Career Roadmap project has injected me into their world. Imagine my surprise when faculty invited me to work on four faculty committees and a faculty interview…and presented at 13 faculty meetings and 50 classes.
You may ask “So what?” Well, here’s what. The Career Roadmap goal is to guarantee that every graduating senior has a career plan. And the only way that happens is when faculty assign career planning homework in their courses. When faculty know and trust you, they are willing to actually listen to you. When they listen to you, hopefully they discover you aren’t the idiot you always seemed to be (although I may be the exception). Then they learn that requiring students to complete simple stand-alone Roadmap assignments takes no work on their part yet catalyzes students’ career progress. When they understand that, you have new BFFF’s (Best Faculty Friends Forever).
All seriousness aside, that’s what we’ve been trying to do – get faculty to assign students to complete career planning activities in classes. And it’s working. To influence faculty we use Cialdini’s weapons of influence including reciprocity, social proof, scarcity, and liking (glad to talk you about this – just call). Here’s some statistics that are not lies or damn lies (but since you can’t fact-check it you have to just trust me on this one).
In the last two semesters, between last year and this year, we have increased student use of the following career services
+ 20% increased use of Optimal Resume (resumes and mock interviews)
I presented at 50 classes taught by 42 professors for “Don’t Cancel That Class.” When I present I ask faculty to require Roadmap assignments to their students which is why we had such a steep increase in service use.
Here’s a couple recent cool developments: I was invited to create a 4 year planner to be integrated into the faculty academic advising appointments, and I expect that 100% of all Freshmen will be required to complete career testing and resumes by the end of their first semester through required colloquium courses.
More to come…
Questions? Join my Career Roadmap discussion group in LinkedIn and ask a question. http://www.linkedin.com/in/jerryhouser
February 2012 Update
Here is an update on the progress of our new program “The Career Roadmap.’ It was a pleasant surprise to receive the 3i Innovation Excellence Award.
Challenges thus far:
Read more about the Career Roadmap HERE.