Lori Kayes teaches a College of Science course

Winter 2020 — A growing number of incoming students to U.S. higher education institutions say that getting a better job represents a critical factor in their decision to enroll in college. Oregon State’s Career Development Center recognizes the importance of preparing students for career readiness and partners extensively with colleges and other university partners to integrate professional development into the student experience.

“Universities play a critical role in helping students develop career readiness competencies and prepare for life after college,” Executive Director of the Career Development Center Brandi Fuhrman says. “Every facet of the university plays a role in students’ career development.”

The Career Development Center website provides faculty and staff with resources to make career development a central part of the classroom and co-curricular programming. In addition to creating career-focused assignments or incorporating Career Development Center presentations into courses and programming, faculty and staff can help students prepare for their professions by providing them feedback on their skills.

Employers are looking for new graduates who know how to articulate their skills, talents, interests and strengths. The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) has identified eight key career-readiness competencies that employers look for, regardless of degree. Faculty and staff can help students understand the competencies they are developing in the classroom and in co-curricular activities — and learn how to communicate effectively about these experiences using NACE language.

“Career competencies provide students with a flexible vocabulary to connect learning from across disciplines to career-related activities,” Fuhrman says.

The center also encourages faculty and staff to talk with students about how they can gain experience through internships or volunteering and to introduce students to alumni and industry professionals. Connecting students with professionals for informational interviews and networking opportunities is one way that faculty and staff can help address systemic inequities for historically underrepresented students who may not have access to resources available to more privileged students, Fuhrman says.