Summary of the 2010 Advising Summit: Career Development and Alumni Relations

The topic of this year’s Advising Summit was Career Development and Alumni Relations, which grew out of discussions at the Advising Academy, and was quite timely given the increasing concern with and focus on post-graduation plans by our students.

We had wonderful panel of advisors from departments and representatives from the Career Center and the Alumni Association. Kalli Federhofer from the German department spoke about their internship program, which is one way in which majors can explore careers and gain concrete work experience. He also presented two databases that he maintains to track alumni and to connect them with one another and with current students based on common career or graduate program interests, or even having gone to the same high school. The department also uses one of these for development purposes with at least one spectacular success. He discussed the department’s use of social networking sites to assist in tracking alumni and talked of the possibility of making his databases more publicly accessible, at least to German majors and minors so they could search for and connect with one another.

Jennifer Taylor from the Psychology department discussed how they have partnered with the Career Center, who offers training sessions for both Psychology advisors and peer advisors. Career Center advisors also do co-advising sessions with Psychology advisors, so that students can meet with both at the same time and have the opportunity to benefit from the synergistic advising that this entails. At the mandatory orientation for Psychology majors, the department presents the majors in terms of the kinds of transferrable skills that they offer, as well as career lists of the sorts of careers into which many majors go whether immediately upon graduation or further out. The department maintains graduate program, internship, and career resources both in their physical offices and through their website, which also has alumni profiles. The department hosts various events such as a Career Fair, a workshop on applying to graduate school, alumni speakers, etc., as well as conducting exit and alumni surveys. They also gather data on their alumni from the Career Center’s First Destination survey. They maintain a database of alumni and send an annual newsletter.

Acrisio Pires from the Linguistics department presented the ways in which they introduce their students to the discipline of linguistics, both in terms of its relation to other academic disciplines, as well as in terms of the kinds of directions in which their students go after graduation. In addition to preparing students for future work or study in linguistics-related fields such as English as a Second Language, American Sign Language, and Speech Pathology, the department frames the major as a rigorous form of interdisciplinary training that gives their students flexibility and widely applicable and transferrable skills. The department offers an experiential learning course that, similar to German’s internship program, gives students exposure to different career fields through an internship experience. They also offer career- and graduate school-focused workshops, and maintain a database of alumni email, and utilize social networking media to maintain contact with their current students and alumni.

Amy Hoag from the Career Center gave an overview of their services and resources for students, beginning with their “i • Plan” (internship and job search) framework of story, presentation, and community. She discussed some of the ways in which they currently collaborate with departments, such as on-site and co-advising, and in the development of departmental Career Guides. She briefly described their First Destination survey, which they administer on an annual basis sometime around November. They are happy to share results from this survey with departments, and also to engage in new collaborations. In their experience, student success in the job search has a strong correlation to how early they begin it, so she encouraged departments to take this into consideration when planning career-focused programs, as well as collaborations with and referrals to the Career Center.

Laura Turner from the Alumni Association also gave an overview [ppt] of their services and resources for students (both current and alumni), including 30-minute Mentors, Alumni NetWorks, InCircle, and of course membership in the Alumni Association. She also described their Real Life 101 program, and opportunities for departmental collaboration/sponsorship through their Welcome Wednesdays or other joint programs. They are very willing and eager to work with departments, from assisting with advertising, to using their space, to helping with program content.

During the subsequent Q/A period, there were two primary recommendations that emerged in working with students on career development and in maintaining contact with them once they join the alumni ranks. The first was simply the importance of working collaboratively with units such as the Career Center, Alumni Association, and LSA Development (and of course also colleagues in Advising and in the academic departments). The second was the importance of beginning to prepare students early on in their college careers and careers in the departments for life after college, precisely through making the connections from their current activities (curricular and co-curricular) to their future goals, while also priming their expectations for remaining in contact (e.g., through forwarding their umich email account to whichever account they plan to use after graduation, such as gmail, joining the department’s Facebook group, etc.), and working to maintain this contact through alumni surveys, events, and invitations to serve on career panels, as mentors, etc.

See also the Brown Bag summaries for Career Resources and Counseling and Alumni Connections.

Alumni Association Powerpoint Presentation Nov 18 2010 (Powerpoint presentation)


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