Heart of the Matter

Andy Chan's Blog for Parents, Mentors and Teachers

OPCD Updates

Students Helping Students

At Wake Forest, there is peer tutoring available for calculus, biology, Spanish, and British literature amongst other subjects; so why not for career related topics? Well, now there is.

Five senior business students are volunteering their time to assist underclassmen of all majors in their career development by connecting them with resources during evening hours on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights. These students are called the UBCC Fellows and will be assisting the Undergraduate Business Career Center counselors by sharing their job and internship search experiences, discussing the resources and strategies they used effectively, and examining the different business options available to students. There is one UBCC Fellow representing each of the undergraduate business majors.

  • Steven Millard – Finance
  • Jenny Turner – Business & Enterprise Management
  • Nick Stanzione – Math Business
  • Andrew Russell – Math Finance
  • Megan Mancosh – Accountancy

The UBCC Fellows will be available to answer questions students may have regarding: networking, resumes, interviews, the business school, or just share their experience with job search process. There is no appointment necessary so students are welcome to stop by Manchester 245 on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday nights from 8:00 – 10:00 PM.

Parents, this is a great resource for your undergraduate student who is hoping to learn more about the career process as well as business career fields. Encourage your first-year or sophomore student to stop by one night to discuss potential career fields and the steps necessary to get there.

Professional Development at Wake Forest

Like a train moving full steam ahead, so is the semester nearing its end, and Wake Forest students are getting excited about what the summer months hold for them. Whether they are embarking on their first job, internship, graduate school, or other experience, your students can and should start to prepare now by building important professional and life skills necessary for life outside of college. Thanks to the leadership and hard work of Allison McWilliams and Amy Willard, the OPCD has a robust Professional Development department that provides tools, resources, and a framework to guide your students in developing their professional selves.

According to the 2013 NACE Job Outlook survey, an annual survey of employers, the most sought-after skills (in order of importance) that they look for in recent college graduates are: 1) oral communication; 2) teamwork; 3) problem-solving; 4) organizational skills; 5) critical thinking; 6) analytical skills; 7) technical knowledge; 8) computer skills; 9) written communication; and 10) interpersonal skills. At Wake Forest, students have the opportunity to develop these skills through their academic coursework; research opportunities; educational workshops; and experiential activities such as internships, student organizations, study abroad, and volunteer experiences. In addition, we have created a skill-building directory that allows students to search for and find opportunities where they can begin acquiring these critical skills.

In addition to these key skill areas, financial literacy is critical to post-graduation success. Research increasingly indicates that students possess aloof attitudes and behaviors toward fiscal responsibility until faced with debt and expenses that comes with living on their own for the first time. According to Everfi’s survey of 40,000 first-year college students, “Nearly 80 percent of students said that they “frequently” worry about debt.  Yet many of them also acknowledged risky financial behavior, such as carrying a credit-card balance of $1,000 or more.” To combat this, the Office of Personal and Career Development has partnered with the National Endowment for Financial Education to offer CashCourse, a free online interactive financial literacy tool for Wake Forest students. CashCourse provides topical advice and resources to students delivered through worksheets, financial calculators, quizzes, courses, videos, and budget guides to help students build financial literacy and make sound fiscal decisions now, in order to prepare them for their future.

At Wake Forest, we are committed to preparing your students for their lives outside of college, by equipping them with the tools, resources, and knowledge they will need to be successful, positive contributors to society. CashCourse and the Skill-Building Directory are just two examples of how we are constantly seeking new and innovative ways to provide the guidance and information that students need. Check them out and let us know what you think!

2012 First Destination Data

Each year, the OPCD surveys graduating seniors to acquire the first destination outcomes of the graduating class within six months after graduation. We strive to capture information about every student, but we typically are able to capture the first destination information from 75-85% of each class. The following results are based on the 828 student outcomes we received this year, representing 78% of the class of 2012.  The best news is that 95% of the class of 2012 either had a job offer or a graduate school acceptance within six months of graduation demonstrating the impact of the significant investment and transformation of how personal, career and professional development is delivered at Wake Forest.

As the media, politicians and general public debate the value of college and President Obama promotes his College Scorecard, I think that it’s time for colleges and universities to be more transparent and informative about the outcomes of its graduates. Many colleges do not reliably gather and report this information each year. So it is high time to initiate new procedures and policies to obtain and report this now mission critical information on many college campuses. Everyone wants it and expects it, so why don’t we share it with them?

At Wake Forest, this outcome information is readily available on our website, including the first jobs of our last 5 years of graduates for every major. We share this information with our faculty and they appreciate knowing the wide range of jobs our students secure no matter what they choose to major in. We plan on adding more types of career-related information and metrics over time.  Our aspiration is to provide a model that other colleges and universities can follow to be more transparent and accurate in communicating their value proposition.

Until then, prospective student applicants should proactively ask probing questions about how their college-of-interest invests in the college-to-career process for EVERY student. Also ask admissions and career center representatives for their graduates’ First Destination outcome data and trends.  Remember to ask about the survey response rate as you’ll find that most colleges’ data is not representative of the entire student body.

Overall Results

95% of reporting graduates are employed or attending graduate school.

Employment by Function

The 566 employed graduates’ positions are reported in the following functional areas:

*Other includes functions each with less than 2.1% of respondents: Accounting, Actuarial, Advertising, Athletics/Coaching, Creative, Customer Service, Entrepreneur, Fundraising/Development, Human Resources, Insurance, Legal Services, Logistics/Transportation, Manufacturing, Military, Nonscientific Research, Operations/Production, Professional Athletics, Public Relations, Real Estate, Religious Occupations, Scientific Research, Writing/Editing


The 566 employed graduates’ positions are reported in the following industries:

Graduate School

217 graduates reported attending graduate or professional schools:

Debunking An OPCD Myth

A common misperception among students, parents and faculty is that the Office of Personal & Career Development primarily helps students interested in business or who study business as their major. Contrary to this myth, the OPCD supports students from all backgrounds and with diverse interests. We have a number of resources and initiatives dedicated to students who are especially interested in non-business and non-traditional career fields.

The first method in which we assist these students is by bringing a diverse group of organizations and employers to campus. A recent example is the CIA information session in which 145 students attended! In information sessions, representatives from the organization discuss the opportunities available, the daily work life, the desired skills and attributes for applicants, and logistical information about the application process. Representatives always remain after the formal presentation to engage with eager students who want to learn more about their experience and their organization. These information sessions are a valuable opportunity for students to interact with potential employers and learn more about an industry or organization without even leaving campus. Examples of other notable employers include Teach For America, Gallup Polling, City Year and the State Department.

The second initiative is a pilot program for seniors interested in non-profit careers. A number of seniors have joined Non-Profit Career Action groups in which they meet with a dedicated career counselor to help guide them in the job search process focused on non-profit careers. These groups meet three times in the fall semester to help students prepare for the search process. After each group meeting, they are given “homework” by their counselor such as conducting informational interviews or bolstering their LinkedIn profile. In the spring semester, these groups meet three more times to hold them accountable in executing their job search strategy. These groups help students secure non-profit careers which is often difficult because the non-profit sector does not have structured recruiting and hiring timelines and processes like those in large corporations.

The third resource the OPCD offers to students are Career Weeks. These weeks are focused on unique career fields and are intentionally timed throughout the year to correspond with the recruiting and hiring timelines of the relevant careers. For instance, from February 4-8, the OPCD will be sponsoring the Advertising/PR/Event Planning week, which is an area of significant student interest. During those five days, alumni panelists will discuss their experience, dynamics in their job, organization and industry, and important job search and career management advice. In addition, internship search strategy workshops will be held for students seeking to get their foot in the door in these competitive career fields. Finally, the week will culminate with a 25-student career trek to Woodbine advertising agency to experience get a hands-on view of life in advertising. Last year, several students who visited Woodbine were hired as summer interns!

Outside of these examples, OPCD has numerous other resources and programs to assist students interested in non-business and non-traditional careers, as well as graduate school options. Encourage your student to complete their DeaconSource profile and visit the OPCD regardless of his or her interests as we have the capabilities and resources to help your child navigate the path from college to career with clarity, competence, and confidence.

The OPCD Helps Students in Record Numbers!

The OPCD is off to a blazing start this academic year. We’ve experienced double-digit growth in student engagement compared to last year at this time. These results reflect our progress towards achieving our goal of changing the culture at Wake Forest, where personal and career development is an essential component of every student’s college experience.

Counseling appointments are one of the primary ways the OPCD assists students in their career development journey. We have experienced a 20.4% increase in appointments, with over 100 more than this time last year. Career counselors help students in a variety of ways and address each student’s career-related questions including self-assessment results, up-coming interviews, job or internship search strategies, and refine their career action plan. In post-counseling appointment surveys, 100% of students report that their counseling appointment was a helpful and positive experience.

In the past, mock interviews have been one of the more underutilized services offered by the OPCD so we are pleased to experience a 38.1% increase. We have one staff member, Don Masura, solely dedicated solely to mock interviews because it is one of the most crucial job search skills that students practice the least. In mock interviews, the student gives his/her resume and a job description to Don; then Don conducts a tailored interview representative of the industry and job description. Once the interview is complete, Don analyzes the student’s performance with the student and offers detailed feedback on the student’s strength and opportunities for improvement.
The number of self-assessments taken has increased over 30%. Self-assessments are a vital tool to help students make significant decisions like identifying options for major selection and potential career fields. These assessments enable students to understand their interests, values, skills, strengths and personality to make well-informed decisions regarding their academic and career development.

Finally, attendance at OPCD programs has increased by 11.4%. These programs are topical in nature and can be designed for particular audiences or be offered to the student body at large. The subjects range from creating a collegiate resume to building a professional LinkedIn profile to job search strategies. These programs have been embraced by students because our staff meets students where they are. Whether our staff speaks at a sorority’s chapter meeting, in a residence hall or in a faculty member’s classroom, students greatly appreciate our meeting them where they are.

Parents, make sure your student is taking advantage of all that the OCPD has to offer. The first step is to complete their profile in DeaconSource so that they receive relevant news and information tailored to their specific interests,. Students from all class years are connecting with the OPCD and increasing their capabilities to successfully find internships, full-time jobs or graduate school admission. Please encourage your student to come into the OPCD today to get started.

New Passport for Career Success

There is a quote by Winston Churchill that one of my staffers often references: “Every day you may make progress. Every step may be fruitful. Yet there will stretch out before you an ever-lengthening, ever-ascending, ever-improving path. You know you will never get to the end of the journey. But this, so far from discouraging, only adds to the joy and glory of the climb.” These powerful words explains a truism about our professional life that we often overlook. Fundamentally, our career journey is just that – a journey.

We truly do not know where our career journey will take us. It is increasingly common for professionals to not only move from organization to organization, but across job functions, industries and careers as well. The Bureau for Labor Statistics reports that the average number of jobs held by Baby Boomers in their working lifetime was 11; we can assume that this number will only increase with the Millennial generation. In line with this theme of a career journey, the OPCD developed a brand new and unique resource for students this year – our Career Passport.

The Career Passport details the most important steps students should undertake each year in order to achieve successful career results at the end of their college experience, whether they attend graduate school or secure a full-time job. Much of the research regarding the Millennial generation states that they are planners; they love to check off the boxes and track their progress to ensure they are on course for various objectives. As a result, we have provided start and completion dates for each of the action steps to insure that students know what they need to accomplish and by when.

At the First-Year orientation program, we distributed the Career Passport to all 1,357 new students, which they really appreciated.  One student commented, “It’s adorable!” which we hope means she won’t ever lose it. The Career Passport encourages students to begin reflecting on their career journey early in their college experience. For first and second year students, we recommend that they take self-assessments, gather career information through a variety of sources and channels, and find internships to begin exploring and understanding the world of work as well as their own personal interests, values and strengths. During the first two years, we are equipping students with the information to make well thought-out decisions in their remaining two years, when the stakes are more significant. As I like to say, “An informed decision is a good decision.”

In their junior and senior year, students develop and execute a personal career action plan depending on their career interests and personal capabilities and circumstances. This involves refining interview skills, leveraging existing relationships to form new networking contacts, and applying for job and internship openings listed both in DeaconSource and other job sites. In addition, the Career Passport helps your student prepare for future, post-graduate job searches.

When preparing for an international journey, there are numerous items on your packing list: your phone charger, adapters, medications, foreign currency, etc. But there is one item that is absolutely necessary in order to even board the plane: your passport. The OPCD Career Passport is equally essential to students at any point of their career journey at Wake Forest. Encourage your students to consult our Career Passport in order to thoughtfully and intentionally prepare for their career journey during and after their time at Wake Forest.

Death, Taxes, and First Destination Surveys

It is a guarantee of life: if you recently graduated from college, you will receive a request from your institution to fill out a survey detailing your post-graduate plans. In fact, you may receive multiple requests if you don’t answer the survey. While it is commonly recognized that colleges use this information to understand their graduates’ first destination outcomes, the full function and importance of these surveys is not widely understood.

Most importantly, the first destination survey is one report card of the university, especially the career office. It measures how effectively the institution supported and guided students in their personal and career development. With the student feedback provided, the career office can improve their communications, programs, resources and events. For instance, if graduates’ responses indicate a low level of awareness and usage of mock interview services, the career office can improve the publicity and communication of these services especially around the time of career fairs and on campus recruiting interviews.

In the case of the OPCD, we also ask students to report their clarity of career direction, their competency to conduct a successful job search and their confidence that they will achieve their career goals now and in the future. We also share the first destination outcomes with faculty advisors so that they can accurately inform students, in a major or when deciding on a major, about what jobs and graduate schools outcomes resulted given the major. In many instances, this information has freed students to pursue their true academic interests while also developing interesting career-related options.

If you are a parent of a recent graduate, please encourage your son or daughter to take a few moments to complete our survey. The results we receive will help us more effectively and efficiently educate and equip the next class of Demon Deacons for their academic careers and their post-graduate paths.

Wake Forest Celebrates "Pro Humanitate Days"

Anyone who knows Wake Forest knows how important the school’s motto, “Pro Humanitate”, is to our students.  From the moment that students arrive on campus (and many even in the summer before!) Wake Forest students volunteer their time and energy to help others.The OPCD is very excited to participate in this year’s “Pro Humanitate Days”.  These “4 days of good” were originally created by Kim Shirley (‘85) and are being implemented across the country from June 1 to June 4.  The concept is quite simple: Wake Forest alumni from all over the country can volunteer and show their Pro Humanitate spirit in their local area.

The Wake Forest Alumni Group has organized a “Pro Humanitate Days Kickoff Event” on campus this Friday.  Scores of Wake Forest students, staff, faculty, and local alumni will volunteer with the Wake Forest Campus Kitchen, the Wake Forest Campus Garden, or our local Enrichment Center.  This is a great opportunity for all of us at Wake Forest to not only give back, but to spend quality time with like-minded individuals that have the same Pro Humanitate mindset.

We hope that you or your student are able to participate in a local Pro Humanitate event.  For more information follow this link.  Whether you participate or not, don’t forget to follow the hashtag #4goodwfu on Twitter to hear all about these 4 days of good!

The OPCD is in Overdrive!

As graduation nears, the Wake Forest campus takes on a different energy.  Some students are excited for the long break. Others are sad to be leaving friends and faculty.  In seniors a different energy can be felt. Some seniors feel the buzz of accomplishment and excitement for things to come, but for others, graduation evokes a sense of panic and anxiety.

To make sure we’re meeting the needs of all of our seniors the OPCD has gone into overdrive! We have continued to offer our traditional services, including; daily resume, cover letter, and LinkedIn profile reviews, one-on-one counseling appointments, online assessments, events and workshops, G-Chat hours with our career counselors, mock interviews in the office or on-line, and hundreds of job postings through DeaconSource.

In the past few weeks we have also begun reaching out to target employer populations to increase the number of available jobs, opening the career counselors schedules to allow for more senior-only appointments, adding programs and workshops specific to the senior job search, extending resume book submissions, and providing more networking opportunities for students.  The introduction of these additional services not only opens doors for our seniors, but also gives all of us in the OPCD the opportunity to work with these spectacular students before they leave Wake Forest.




Graduation outside of Wait Chapel

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.