As part of BYU-Idaho’s mission, the university aims to provide a high-quality education that prepares students for lifelong learning and employment. Although there may be many motivating factors for why students choose to obtain higher education, employment is a main determinant.
Additionally, because the effects of a college education and meaningful employment can lead to an increase in a student’s ability to lead in their home, the Church, and their community, the university has created a strategic priority plan with the goal to increase the percentage of students who obtain employment or other career outcomes within 120 days of graduation.
The university’s strategic plan for employment includes three goals: enhance and improve current career readiness efforts, deepen collaboration among university stakeholders, and develop a more formal, visible culture of career preparation earlier in the student lifecycle.
One major facet of this plan is to create an employability model that encourages a combined effort and shared responsibility for academic leaders, administrative services, and students themselves to work together to accomplish career outcomes. Their involvement will include defining, creating, and communicating this model among other responsibilities. For example, employability is now a formal agenda item discussed within the Student Success Council, and there’s been more coordination within Student Life departments to develop focused messaging on the topic earlier in a student’s academic career.
Additionally, a new academic leadership position has been created in each college titled as the associate dean of student success. Employability isn’t the only focus of this new position; however, the associate deans of student success are leading the initiative to create professional development plans in each college to help students know early in their educational journey what they need to do to be ready to obtain meaningful employment at graduation. Student Advancement Managing Director Derek Fay explained that this model is an opportunity to combine the efforts of faculty and administrative departments across campus to better help students.
“The model makes sure that efforts across campus combine and have more power and visibility behind them and signals to students that if they come to BYU-Idaho, they can succeed at getting a great job and a great career,” Fay said.
The responsibility of helping students obtain meaningful employment is shared between many stakeholders—as mentioned earlier. Although each area of campus should foster a career–readiness culture and help students achieve career goals through their unique scope of influence, the Career Center has a role in helping influence how the employability model is implemented throughout campus and coordinates with stakeholders.
The BYU-Idaho Career Center itself has implemented many strategies to provide resources for students to obtain employment.
In the past year, the Career Center has implemented digital tools such as VMock and BYUI Connect. VMock is a software tool that gives students constructive feedback on their resumes, and BYUI Connect provides networking opportunities for students by connecting them with BYU-Idaho alumni in their area of study. The office also established a creative council composed of employees from the Career Center, University Relations, and faculty to discuss ways to improve the experience in the new Career Center when it opens in 2021.
As 2020 continues, the Career Center plans to implement the following:
- Create professional development roadmaps for each program and establish a strategy through I-Plan to meet tracking, reporting, and accountability needs.
- Drive a higher adoption rate of Handshake, VMock, Portfolium, and BYU-I Connect.
- Expand the full-time employee allocation in career preparation.
- Develop sharable, digital content about career readiness that students and employees can use (especially in the classroom).
- Complete work on a new Career Center website that is focused on educating, motivating, and inviting students to take early action in career readiness as well as sharing student and alumni success material.
- Create behavior reports by college that show how much students are engaged in career and job market readiness activities.
Along with this action plan, the Career Center plans to collaborate with Executive Strategy and Planning to use employment data gathered from alumni at 120 days, 1 year, and 5 years after they graduate to know how to better inform students on how to make decisions around career planning.
“We started a year or so ago to try to understand where our students were really landing in terms of jobs,” Fay said. “It will be an advantage to have a clear picture about career outcome attainment and then determine the best way to use and share that data.”
At the end of the day, the purpose of these efforts is to help students succeed in their future and give them the confidence to begin a career.
“At BYU-Idaho, everybody owns some responsibility for fulfilling employment goals,” Fay said. “This model helps BYU-Idaho steadily improve the way we help students have good jobs and good careers when they leave here.”