Career Center to Assess Student Needs

Sydney Allen, Production Editor

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The Career Center’s “needs assessment” — an initiative looking to identify ways for the center to improve its facilities — is the first step in the College’s stated endeavor to improve career services for students and recent graduates.

The survey portion of the assessment, which comes on the heels of the Strategic Plan’s commitment to help students and recent alumni achieve “meaningful career objectives,” will soon be administered to current juniors and seniors.

“I knew coming in that I wanted to be informed about what was really happening with students and recent alumni and what their biggest needs are — to help empower, enable and prepare them to make a successful transition into the workplace,” said Career Center Director Lori Young.

Young, who joined the Career Center in January, said data from the needs assessment will help the center identify gaps in its services. The surveys will also assess how prepared students and recent graduates feel they are, or were, to make the transition out of Oberlin.

“For us, [knowing] what students think is important, and by knowing where they think they are, we can then be really strategic about designing some services and resources to make a difference and close that gap,” Young said. According to Vice President of Development and Alumni Affairs Bill Barlow, the center will use the aggregated data to develop a new system of student-alumni relations as proposed in

the Strategic Plan.
One of the more concrete initiatives outlined

in the plan is “Oberlin 4+4,” a program that will build the Career Center’s on-campus resources and Oberlin’s alumni network into students’ academic experiences. The new model will lay the groundwork for more individual mentorships during an Oberlin student’s collegiate career, as well as the first four years after graduation.

“Conducting the needs assessment is the first step in this process, so we are helping Lori and her team by funding the study, and will be working with them to determine ways alumni four years after graduation.

“Conducting the needs assessment is the first step in this process, so we are helping Lori and her team by funding the study, and will be working with them to determine ways alumni and others can be involved in supporting the new programming that results from the assessment,” Barlow said.

Along with the survey, the center will poll recent alumni, implement three focus groups and conduct on-campus interviews about students’ experiences with the Career Center. The survey and focus groups will ideally complement one another to determine what particular life skills Oberlin students wish to obtain.

The center partnered with the Akron-based Center for Marketing and Opinion Research for the needs assessment. CMOR’s clients include the Cleveland Browns and various local governmental and nonprofit organizations.

Over the course of next year, Career Center staff hope to integrate public speaking and other professional skills training into their services. Other objectives include strengthening relationships with faculty and alumni so as to have a more informed approach to developing advising strategies.

“This is a project I was really excited about because I think the Career Center should be utilized much more by our students,” volleyball Head Coach Erica Rau said.

Rau, who served as the Career Center’s athletics strategic partner for the needs assessment, recruited student athletes to participate in one of the focus groups. During the focus group, students discussed the resources they had used to become career-ready, she said.

The Career Center expects to collect all the necessary data from its surveys and focus groups by mid-June. Over the summer, the center will present the results to senior staff and the Board of Trustees before creating a plan for the 2016–2017 school year.

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