Naspa career summit presentation public
Sheila Curran presentation to participants in the NASPA President's Summit on College, Career and Employability
Published on: Mar 3, 2016
Transcripts - Naspa career summit presentation public
on College, Career & Employability
A NATIONAL VIEW OF CAREER
TRANSFORMATION INITIATIVES ON THE
Alexandria, VA, July, 2014
Sheila Curran, Curran Consulting Group
• Sheila Curran
• CEO and Chief Strategy Consultant
• Curran Consulting Group
6 Key Questions
How has college to career evolved?
Why pay so much attention to careers
What’s wrong with our current model of
college to career?
What does transformation look like?
What are the prerequisites for success?
What are the key issues for VPSA’s and
questions they need to ask?
How has college to
Thirty years ago, there was little connection between classroom and career. Students typically started thinking
about careers in their senior year, unless they intended to go to law or medical schools—options with very clear
rules and requirements. Career Services was, for the most part, a “placement” model.
In 2014, career preparation is much more complex. Companies are much less willing to train new recruits; they
expect students to come ready to be productive on day one, and they want students to have acquired relevant
skills and experiences while still in college.
Major Changes to Careers 1984 to 2014
• Career preparation, formal education and experiential education occur
• Employment situation is more complex
• Internships are more important
• Technology means the delivery of career services is not place dependent
Major Changes to Career Services 1984-2014
• Services start earlier
• Greater emphasis on internships
• Easier access to opportunity through
• Increase in 3rd party career
technology, e.g., for interviewing
• More collaboration across campus
While the work world for new graduates has changed significantly in 30 years, and the “rules of engagement” have
become much less clear, Career Services offices operate in fundamentally the same way as they have for decades,
simply adding more functions to their existing counseling and employment (aka placement) responsibilities. Often
the Career Services mission is a “mission impossible”.
Unemployment Rates for College Grads
Until the Great Recession hit, few colleges and universities paid much attention to Career Services, nor held
them accountable for results. Colleges were lulled into a false sense of security: students continued to
matriculate despite rising costs because college loans were more available; the media consistently touted the
$1 million advantage of a bachelor’s degree; and, unemployment rates for college grads over 25 were
consistently much lower than for the civilian population.
2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
Yearly unemployment averages for college graduates : 25 and over
Why pay so much
attention to careers?
The Impact of the Great Recession
Students attend college to get a
The economic downturn of 2008 changed everything. Loans became a much greater concern when being able
to repay them was not an automatic assumption. The numbers of students saying that a primary reason for
attending college was to get a better job has continued to increase, and families now actively question
prospective colleges on the return on investment of their college tuition dollars.
Unemployment for Young Grads
Students and their families have reason for concern. When the media talks about unemployment rates,
they cite rates for all college grads; the picture for new bachelor’s grads aged 20-24 is much less rosy,
albeit better than it was from 2009-13. Since 2007, the unemployment rates for this cohort have
consistently exceeded those of the overall civilian population, and by some estimates, almost 40% of
new grads are “mal-employed” in positions that do not require a college degree, or require part-time
2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
2007 - 2014 : Yearly unemployment average of college graduates aged 20-24
College : 20-24
The Employer Perspective
Fewer than 2 in 5 hiring managers found
recent graduates prepared for jobs
Contrary to popular assumption, the majority of college students are not using the poor employment climate as an
impetus to better prepare themselves for the future, or take advantage of college career services. Employers are
generally unimpressed with the quality of college grads applying to entry-level professional positions. There is a
disconnect between employer perception and what chief academic officers think about graduates’ level of
Cost of Education in Context
The question of the educational “ROI” is of much greater significance than in the past because of the cost of
education. According to Bloomsburg (based on Labor Department figures), tuition and fees have increased
1,120 percent since records began in 1978, 4 times faster than the growth of the CPI. The recent steeper climb
in college costs coincides with federal government 2006 decision to increase the availability of student loans
and the amount students could borrow. Current average student debt is around $29,000.
Not surprisingly, outstanding student debt affects an increasing number of households, diminishing graduates’
ability to improve their economic position, purchase large items, or get a mortgage. According to the Pew Research
Center, households with outstanding debt rose from 9% in 1989 to 19% in 2010.
The Problem for Academia
• College Score Card
• Website to compare
• Great scrutiny of Title IV
• Emphasis on economic
value of education
“Colleges need to demonstrate the value of their product with hard numbers----or lawmakers will
try to do it for them” Paul Fain, Inside Higher Ed, August 23, 2013
• The prime purpose of higher
education is education
• Students (and parents) take a
utilitarian approach, and want a
return on their tuition investment
• Is it possible to have both a high
quality education and also
excellent career outcomes?
What’s wrong with our
current college career
• 96% of chief academic officers believe their
institution is either somewhat effective or very
effective in preparing students for the world of work
1) There is little evidence to prove success
2) Most Career Services structures are inadequate to
meet 21st century needs
Current Model of Career Services
Curran Consulting Group:
Deans & Senior
On most college campuses there are multiple career initiatives, involving groups and individuals both on and
off campuses. There is often little coordination and much duplication. The Career Services office may be, both
literally and figuratively, out in “left field”. Some student needs are very well met—especially if the student’s
major is also a career; the needs of others—often those in the liberal and creative arts—remain unmet.
Connecting College to Career
Career initiatives on
the classroom and
To successfully transform careers, we must connect the dots between career initiatives—wherever they
take place—and a comprehensive careers philosophy and plan. And the plan must be driven by data.
Colleges and universities must determine what success looks like for their graduates, and align their
services, programs and initiatives to meet those objectives.
Building 21st Century Skills
The skills required by 21st century employers can be learned through a student’s experience in and out of the
classroom. We must be more intentional about helping students appreciate what they are learning, and
understand where they can acquire the knowledge and skills they need.
Buildingtowardssuccessful career outcomes
The only areas for which Career Services bears primary responsibility are “Career Information & Exploration” and “Job
Search Savvy”. But, career professionals must also play a critical role in orchestrating opportunities for students and
overseeing how and where students gain essential work skills and experience. No longer can Career Services be a place of
transactions. It must play a leadership role in bringing together all those who can support and promote students’ career
A simple math problem
How do you
adequately serve the
needs of 12,000
students with 10
In most institutions, Careers Services staff do not have sufficient band-width to adequately build
individual career partnerships with students and employers. The only way to achieve institutional
goals for graduate success is by engaging the whole community in offering expert advice and help to
students (Career Community initiative).
Key characteristicsof the Wake Forest Model
• Institution-wide support &
• Intentional; involves all
• Accessible information through
• Excellent results
Key characteristics of the Augustana model
• Strategic initiative: Grew out of
campus-wide retreat, engaging
faculty and staff
• President and Provost biggest
• Holistic approach to student
and graduate success
• Different kind of career
Key characteristics of the Miami U model
• Proactive approach, involving “Career Community”
• Realignment of staff, based on career priorities
• Enhanced employer relationships, collaborating with Corporate
Relations to increase impact
• Engage faculty through re-imagined career courses and programs,
based on understanding of the needs of different schools
• Clarify mission, vision, goals
• Make careers a shared
responsibility: involve faculty
• Use data to gain commitment
• Make strategic use of
• Use peer advisors and branding
to expand reach
Key Characteristics of the MICA Model
Transformative Career Model
Curran Consulting G
The new model puts student needs front and center, along with career and academic advising. The concept is that
student career needs can be met in multiple ways. Sometimes advice will most appropriately come from a faculty
member, sometimes from a career professional, and sometimes from an alum who is expert in a particular field.
Career Services must orchestrate an internal and external career community to provide connections, experiences
and opportunities (the CEO model).
What are prerequisites
for success in any
college career initiative?
Four career initiatives that move the needle
Internal and External
Data, planning, and
Key Issues for Student
Four Key Issues for VPs of Student Affairs
• Trustee involvement,
and calls for
• Unpaid internships
• Career outcomes
• Competition for
career leader talent
Key questions to ask your career leader?
• How are our students doing? Are there differences
in outcomes from school to school, and major to
• How are students translating their educational
experience into words employers understand?
• How are we reaching all students, particularly
under-served and at-risk students?
• How are we engaging other departments in
helping students to achieve measurable success?
• How are we contributing to institutional priorities,
not just Student Affairs priorities? Are we
spending time and money on the right things?
• How can we tell we’re adding value to student
• CEO and Chief Strategy Consultant
• Curran Consulting Group
• 401 861 2278