Op-Ed: A progress report from the leader of career services

A little more than a year ago, I stepped onto GW’s campus for the first time to interview for the position of assistant provost for University Career Services. With each passing interview, I became more intrigued and inspired. It became clear to me that GW “got it” – that the University was dedicated to building a University-wide career culture and was putting resources behind it.

So I asked myself, “How does one build a University-wide career culture?” I believe it takes time, it takes a village and it takes a lot of heart.

From what I’ve experienced in my first year, I am confident the University’s investments are already having an impact. Here’s what we’ve been working on.

One of our most significant accomplishments has been the establishment of the Knowledge in Action Career Internship Fund, which provides funding for students in unpaid internships. Since last summer, the fund has awarded nearly $60,000 from generous alumni and parent donors to 45 students.

And we have sought input from two student representatives to the Career Services Council, Courtney McClain and Ari Massefski. As undergraduate representative Ari Massefski said, the fund “is probably the ‘coolest’ part of career services in that it gives away free money to students looking to have experiential learning opportunities.”

Additionally, over the past year, the Center for Career Services has hired six new career consultants and rolled out the My Career Success Plan, which provides an individual, developmental strategy for students to learn about themselves, enhance professional development, build skills and gain knowledge and experience to facilitate a lifetime of career success. We also expanded consulting and workshops ranging from career assessment to skill building to programming focusing on specific industries, such as arts, media, and communications or science, technology, engineering and mathematics, just to name a few.

Total student and alumni engagement – which includes participation in career consulting, resumé critiques, career fairs and classroom presentations, just to name a few – increased by 16 percent from fall 2012 to fall 2013. We expect this trend will continue.

We also are working to build and enhance employer partnerships. We hired three new employer development consultants, who are promoting GW students and alumni, and creating new opportunities for Colonials to connect with employers. We’ve been targeting organizations and working with them to establish a recruiting presence. This fall, employer engagement increased by 15 percent from fall 2012 and, again, we anticipate similar increases in the future.

My colleagues and I remain committed to building a University-wide career culture, acknowledging such change and progress takes time. I welcome feedback from all members of the community about how we can have an even greater impact in the years to come.

Rachel Brown is the assistant provost for University Career Services.

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