Heart of the Matter

Andy Chan's Blog for Parents, Mentors and Teachers

The Wake Forest Model of Career Development

I recently gave the keynote address at the Intern Bridge Career Services Online Conference. Career development professionals from across the country attended my session to learn about the Wake Forest Model of Personal and Career Development, which we have come to learn is one of the most unique and innovative programs of its kind.
One common challenge that all career centers face is the increasing pressure to “do more with less”, so how can collegiate career service centers succeed in this climate?  I offered a few transferable lessons based on the model that we’ve created at Wake Forest:

1. Design an ecosystem, not a service unit.
Individual career services departments cannot shoulder the burden of educating, advising and supporting students on their own. It is crucial that other constituents (faculty, staff, parents, alumni) are trained, encouraged and motivated to help students in a variety of ways – as advisors, connectors, influencers, and mentors.
2. Align your office’s vision with the university’s educational mission.
By aligning the career development department’s mission with the educational mission of the university, the more you will be seen as a strategic resource. Communicate this mission widely, especially to faculty.

3. Secure top administration support.
Build consensus with those in the administration who can support your office initiatives. Start with the president and vice presidents. They need to understand that your students expect the university to help them successfully navigate the college-to-career path. If you don’t, these soon-to-be-alumni won’t be very interested in staying connected with the school in the future.

4. Develop faculty partners-one person at a time.
Meet with faculty who care deeply about their students. They likely care about their personal and career development as well. Identify ways to work together and offer resources and programs to help their students. Over time, you’ll develop new ways to work together – all in the interest of your students.

5. Spend your time effectively.
Most career center leaders focus on spending time with their staff, with students and with employers. To take a career center to the next level, the leader must develop (or hire) a team of managers who can run the daily operations. Then, the leader must build cross-campus relationships so that the community participates in the process. Finally, the leader must devote time to securing additional resources. At Wake Forest, I spend about ⅓ of my time on friend- and fund-raising activities.

I am very thankful to Intern Bridge for the opportunity to speak to the vision of what can be possible for many colleges and universities. If you are a career services professional who would like to learn more, I encourage you to review my keynote address or consider attending our conference on Rethinking Success: From the Liberal Arts to Careers in the 21st Century this April.

*If you have difficulty opening the keynote address, please contact Robert Shindell at robert@nullinternbridge.com.

Category: OPCD Updates, Rethinking Success