In the CSSA program, I have had the opportunity to implement programming that utilizes creativity, innovation, and technology to reach diverse learners and audiences. Through my work in Career Services and in my various internships, the programming I’ve facilitated impacted student learning and engagement, and it was fun! Some programs are still in process, some change frequently, some happen only once a year, but I’ve learn an incredible amount from all of them that I will take with me to my next adventure.
Each term at OSU, I have conducted targeted outreach presentations for Career Services. These presentations can discuss everything from what Career Services has to offer students, to how to create a strong resume and cover letter, to honing interviewing skills, to career exploration strategies. I have designed and given presentations using PowerPoint and Prezi software, incorporating video and audio as well as group activities, to engage students in different ways who may have different learning preferences. When I give a presentation, I use humor and storytelling to interest students even further in what I have to say, and I always take into account the specific context within which I am giving the presentation. For instance, if I am giving a presentation on resume and cover letter writing to a room full of Resident Assistants, I will take into consideration how they can represent that experience on their resume, offer some examples, and show how well leadership experience can translate to employer needs. One particular presentation I gave recently was for the OSU Women’s Network (OWN), which is an organization of women staff and faculty at OSU. Presenting to professionals, I designed my presentation to speak their specific situations, utilizing their time in their current positions to best prepare for their next career move. This presentation was quite successful, and I will be giving another OWN presentation with Jennifer Busick Stewart at the end of April.
I’m particularly proud of my work, along with several others in Career Services, with the team in the Center for Civic Engagement on the Nonprofit and Volunteering Fair, which broke attendance records this past February. The program puts students in face-to-face contact with nonprofit organizations that need volunteers, interns, or employees in order for relationships to blossom and service work to become another avenue to gain experience. This event reaches students that the traditional Career Fair does not reach, because it appeals to students with interests in different disciplines and varied life goals. We used various marketing strategies to get students there, including a successful social media campaign, and the representatives from the various organizations were impressed by the conversations they had and the connections they made. We also provided food, breakout sessions on topics that students told us would interest them, and received excellent feedback on an attendee survey.
Another program that I helped to design was the first General Engineering Student Organization Fair. My internship supervisor and I created this one day event to get students who had not yet declared a discipline within the College of Engineering to connect with Engineering student organizations. We hypothesized that talking to other students about their co-curriculur engineering projects would engage undecided students and encourage them to make connections. Many of the organizations are discipline specific, like the Chemical, Biological, and Environmental Engineering Student Club, and General Engineering student would be able to see where their interests fell by trying out some of these student organizations. The event was a several hour fair and the feedback we received from students who attended was positive.
I was fortunate to be able to redesign and implement the Career Assistant fall training in 2012. This program is developed in order for new student workers to learn the basis for the work done in Career Services, feel comfortable with the space and the rest of the professional and para-professional staff, and practice the techniques and strategies they would be using to critique resumes and cover letters in drop-in appointments, as well as prepare them to take on outreach presentations. I looked at feedback from the previous year, reflected upon my own experience with the training, and talked to the current CAs about their experiences with training, before I began changing the structure or altering the techniques we utilized. One factor I found immensely important was the initial focus on self-assessment and personal career development, emphasizing that we take a developmental approach in this office. I also made sure that there were times for the new CAs to meet various members of the full-time professional staff and the staff in the other offices within our suite. Streamlining the schedule, I gave the trainees homework to gather more complete and complex views of career development, so that our time together would be productive. I employed hands-on activities, arts-based games, and used various software to model presentation strategies. This training program was a huge amount of work, but it paid off with positive feedback on each day’s activities and student employees who felt confident in their jobs, beginning the year off right.
I have written in other posts about Career Trail, the program I designed during the summer of 2012 based on a program at Willamette University, and I feel confident that this program will be successful in the coming years. It isn’t a short-term initiative, like the one-day fair in the College of Engineering; it is a program that Career Services hopes will result in a long-term cultural shift at OSU. We hope that in the coming years the focus in the OSU classroom is on student learning, as well as preparing students for the workforce. The goal of the program is to make students transition ready for graduation and to use classroom curriculum to require students to do this much needed preparation. The program encompasses seven assignments that students can complete, each bringing them one step closer to being transition ready, including getting to know themselves, researching careers, developing job search tools, and cultivating a network. Using online assessment tools, websites, search engines, videos, online presentations, and Beaver JobNet the program reaches diverse students in multiple ways. It uses a friendly tone in the written text and vibrant imagery to help students make connections between assignments and the bigger picture. This spring we hope to conduct a “soft launch”, marketing the program to individual faculty members for use in their classrooms so that we can collect some data on the success of the program before marketing it to the entire campus next fall.
Although I most love advising and working with students one-on-one, programming and program planning is really fun and exciting, engaging students in multiple creative ways to encourage their learning and growth. I hope I have the opportunity to continue to design and implement accessible and innovative programs that all students will get learning and enjoyment out of in my next position.