Academic journal article International Forum of Teaching and Studies

The Effectiveness of a Career Preparation Program from the Graduates' Perspective

Academic journal article International Forum of Teaching and Studies

The Effectiveness of a Career Preparation Program from the Graduates' Perspective

Article excerpt

Although many students struggle with career-related issues in college, comparatively few engage the career services offered by their academic institutions for help with their difficulties. In addition, there is little research on the factors influencing students' decisions to engage in counseling for career-related issues, making it difficult to develop programs to enhance the students' use of career counseling services (Ludwikowski, Vogel, & Armstrong, 2009, p. 408).

The problem at the University in this study was that the effectiveness of the Career Services Department had not been recorded nor analyzed. For purposes of this study, the University is referred to as MUC University. The perceptions of alumni regarding the assistance they received from the Career Services Department while in college were based on limited data collection. Therefore, the appropriateness of the methods currently utilized by the Department was unknown. Tien (2007) noted at times college students are not aware of the career services the University or college offers. Research has also shown that students who use career services on college campuses have difficulty making career decisions; however, when certain interventions are implemented career decision-making difficulties decline (Tien, 2007). Furthermore, Lara, Kline and Paulson (2011) found that "researchers (e.g., O'Brien & Heppner, 1996; Wamke et al., 1993) stressed the need for studies to investigate teaching methods and supervised career counseling practice as well as student learning outcomes regarding career counseling knowledge, competency, attitudes, and skills" (p. 429).

"Career centers may be able to better commit or allot their limited resources through careful consideration of specific services and technologies to be developed or enhanced, as well as completion of needs analysis allowing for student input" (Venable, 2010, p. 91). Currently the Career Services Department does not track the number of appointment the Career Services Office has with students nor does the Career Services Department track the number of attendees that participate in the various events the Career Services Office organizes. The University has not provided the Career Services Department with the technology to make tracking the data possible. According to Venable (2010), one possible remedy to help the Career Services Department track these data was to outsource the tracking of the data. "Vendors offering career-related services are increasing and may be able to provide administrators with cost-effective options. Outsourcing should also be considered as part of the strategic planning process" (Venable, 2010, p. 92).

The Career Services Program

There are four main functions of the MUC Career Services Department. These functions are: (a) résumé and cover letter preparation, (b) job searches, (c) interview training, and (d) networking skill development. The Career Services Department at MUC University assists both undergraduate and graduate students. The Career Services Office processes were discussed during several face-to-face interview sessions with the director of the Career Services Department. Students can become aware of the services and programs provided by the career advisors at MUC University in several different ways. Niles, Engels and Lenz (2009) state that career counselors must learn competencies that allow students access to and provide awareness of career services.

Some of the possible interactions with students occur when survey data are collected during specific courses at MUC University, during a career development course. Career advisors periodically teach the career development courses themselves. Student interactions also occur when a student seeks out the Career Services center on their own.

Career Development and Students' Perspectives

There has been limited attention given to researching career development from the career decider's perspective (Amundson et al. …

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