Some colleges are teaming up
with outside groups to find mentors who can help students explore careers and build up the social capital to land a job. The Chicago-based One Million Degrees
, for example, taps volunteers
from businesses and professional associations to serve as professional coaches to students who are enrolled at the City Colleges of Chicago.
Kaplan recently announced a new spin on this service. The education company, which years ago stopped issuing
its own university degrees, will offer shared career services to an initial group of higher education partners,
including Florida International University, Point Loma Nazarene University, and the University of Arizona.
The new Career Core is designed to extend even high-end university career services, with a particular focus on underserved students. For a fee, universities will be able to connect students with professional career advisors who specialize in particular fields. Students at participating institutions also will be able to access course content on careers, which Kaplan designed in partnership with Wake Forest University.
The project has been in the works for three years, says Brandon Busteed
, Kaplan’s chief partnership officer and global head of learn-work innovation. The project began with scoping which parts of Wake Forest’s nationally recognized approach to career services could be offered at scale through a pooled model.
“We’re building a team of industry and role-specific advisors,” Busteed says. The diverse group of advisors will have experience in the fields students are interested in breaking into, he says, but they will also be trained as coaches. “That’s not something for an individual university to build.”
, executive director of the National Association of Colleges and Employers, says he can see the potential gains for students if multiple institutions can band together to provide career services and resources that they would not be able to offer on their own. This is particularly true, he says, if students are given practical tools and experiences to improve their confidence as well as their marketability to employers.
“Students, particularly those that are the first generation to go to college, don’t always have access to professionals that are in the industries or careers they are presently exploring in their coursework,” says VanDerziel. “Providing an opportunity for these students to gain practical insight from them in a thoughtful, structured way could have many benefits.”
Whether Career Core takes off remains TBD. But Busteed says many colleges appear to be making career exploration more of a priority, particularly where there’s buy-in from senior leadership.
“The value of career services is going to be a differentiator,” he says.