Many students see career advising as logging onto a website, uploading a resume and praying that some employer on GWork will notice.
But with the University’s ongoing career services overhaul, students can hopefully look forward to a more constructive process.
One of the major questions the Career Services Task Force will have to address is the relationship between academic and career advising. The GW School of Business has an interconnected model, in which career and academic advisers work alongside one another. The Elliott School of International Affairs has a more informal approach, in which a career adviser spends several hours a week in the advising office to answer questions from students.
As the Career Services Task Force debates how to balance the different roles of academic and career advisers, it should adopt a model similar to that of ESIA.
But it’s not as simple as just assigning two different sets of advisers. It is critical for the Career Services Task Force to strike a balance when defining the roles of academic and career advisers.
With the influx of new advisers, there will inherently be more collaboration and interaction between academic and career specialists. And while each college will have somewhat of a distinct system, there should always be a clear division between the two.
At a time when interdisciplinary studies are becoming more prevalent in academics, students need academic advisers who will be able to help facilitate their exploration into different fields of study.
While academic advisers should certainly be aware of career opportunities for students, their primary focus should be to help students develop effective four-year academic plans.
Academic advisers should be knowledgeable about courses offered throughout the University. For example, students in the School of Engineering and Applied Science should be made aware of a digital design course in the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences.
By keeping the advising models separate, students would not feel pressure to translate every course they sign up for into a career opportunity.
Having this division between academic and career advisers would provide students the freedom to craft an advising system that works best for them.
Under the new model, students shouldn’t feel pressured or constrained by also having career services advisers. If students are already comfortable with their academic adviser, then they can look to them specifically for advice about academics and beyond. And the same goes for those who feel comfortable working with a career mentor rather than an academic one. The University must allow for sufficient flexibility within the new system, as students should be able to retain control over their specific academic and career choices.