“College students should have significant practice solving complex problems with diverse groups of collaborators in order to prepare for the challenges they will face in the workplace and in civic life.”
– Kathryn Peltier Campbell, Association of American Colleges and Universities
Our goal is to fundamentally change how we think about Career Services.
We see Career Services as a workshop — a studio — where new and continuing students can have guided exploration and practical advice to find their areas of strength, confidence, and career direction, and perhaps along the way to discover new strategies to challenge themselves in their own professional growth.
Our approach is driven by a commitment to work with you — our students and alumni — to co-design and co-create a compelling professional career that will enable you to succeed and prosper on your unique journey.
Our focus is to work with you and help you and your peers along the path:
- To continually awaken in you the vision and possibilities of an exceptional professional career and life purpose
- To achieve what really matters to you and the communities entrusted to you,
- To embark upon a career that fulfills the values and the ideals that define your spirit and energies,
- To explore career areas that are aligned with interests and core values of each student
- To engage students in community outreach that provide opportunities for impacting urban challenges
- To pursue a career that is equally just, compelling, generative, and evocative
Working together, we strive to find a set of questions and conversations which we hope will be made visible, and in this process tap into possibilities that unleash the awareness that enable one to fulfill his or her own life’s promise.
While many of the practical activities may be similar in form if richer in quality (resume, cover letter, LinkedIn, portfolio, interviews, informational meetings, assessment and career skills and development modules), we want to expand the scope, effectiveness, and impact of these traditional approaches.
Our Career Coaches will continue to provide constructive feedback on the main job search components, but they do so within a wider framework that invites the student to be guided by what inspires them, and then to weave this together with learning, skills development, and self-presentation. In doing so, the students will think critically about how they are presenting themselves vs what they want to celebrate about themselves.
We do not intend this vision to be too limiting. The true value of career services goes well beyond helping students get jobs and explore careers (though both are vital). We see at least three other emerging developments within the field of career services, including:
- An important value proposition in the actual, real-time interface among employers, Illinois Tech, and our students
- An important iterative and feedback loop which will ultimately influence and shape 1) what is taught in the classroom, 2) how we expand and understand our the experiential learning beyond the formal curriculum to ensure alignment among the curriculum, and 3) transferrable job skills. It will also help ensure that students understand and can explore various career paths well before the search for their first internship, while also gaining the key skills necessary for any job (eg networking, communication, etc) from Day One.
- And finally, this could encourage authentic alumni engagement, as they provide real-time mentoring for students and advocacy for Illinois Tech.
We see an opportunity to seek and leverage innovative and even untraditional tools and processes to engage and help our students. We see Illinois Tech’s career services as a strong foundation of how it all begins, and we believe we can continue building this horizontally by adding new and game-changing resources for our students. Not only this will help us with our current students in a more complete way, but also (given our growing young population having millennial & tech-aligned and human-centered approaches and solutions) will be the key to better engagement. We are working on some of these tools and frameworks with internal and external partners as well as with our alumni to connect the multi-generational depth of our alumni and draw deeply upon the diversity, inclusiveness and the communities which frame their professional and life experiences and wisdom.
And to this enterprise, we welcome all those who care deeply about Illinois Tech — our students, alumni, faculty and staff, employers and trusted advisors, parents and extended families, community and civic– and the mission and vision of this university. Our work – philosophically and literally – will be open to neighbors and collaborators near and far, from Bronzeville to the world.
We wonder …
- If change in learning patterns will come largely through student choices, particularly self-directed learning
- If “education” might become more and more obviously a self-directed lifetime journey weaving together many strands and resources
- If, in this way, “the market” might inspire change in the institutions – those who are aware and listening will respond and thrive. Those who are are not may miss an opportunity?
- If the focus needs to be first on serving and empowering the student in their growth and choices as they learn and interact with both educational resources and employers (with help of course from visionary educators, business people, alumni, community where we find them – as you suggest) though surely making the learnings transparent to those institutions who are willing to listen. Certainly, this process involves continual, dynamic interaction and learning with employers about their needs and wants.
We believe that Illinois Tech is one of those listening, but we see the challenge for every traditional educational institution.
We hope/suspect that this kind of career services entity might be a constructively “subversive” influence in this regard – and indeed may need eventually to be independent of any one educational institution.
We invite you to join in this conversation with us.
Our purpose remains to support the women and men who have chosen Illinois Tech as their university. We want to help create and deliver something extraordinary to address the epic challenges, problems, and ideas that are most urgent and important to our students, alumni, and indeed the entire Illinois Tech community.
We know that this might seem a grandiose mission, but we believe that the vision of a flexible, efficient, and effective modular course for lifelong learning and career development – one that is both diverse and inclusive — the sort of “north star” that is needed.
Welcome to Career Services at Illinois Tech.
Vice Provost, Office of Student Access, Success and Diversity Initiatives
Illinois Institute of Technology
Note of thanks:
I am most grateful to the review and contributions of colleagues and associates who have provided constructive and inspired feedback to earlier versions of this brief essay including Jeffrey Moss, CEO & Founder, Parker Dewey; Dr. Lydia Patton, City Manager, Portsmouth, Virginia; Scott Downs, Vice President Enterprise Agility Advisory, Temenos+Agility, Amir Badr, Founder & CEO; and James Mwakichako, Illinois Tech College of Science, M.S Data Science 2017, B.S Applied Mathematics 2016. They have enriched and added to the thinking and focus of these ideas; a work in-progress, the failures and what remains to be developed and unfolded remains entirely the responsibility of myself.