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College to Career shifts focus in the classroom

When it comes to college, it’s hard not to wonder if the assignments and classes will really apply to the career you want. And how can you take the time now to prepare yourself for a job later?

Two places you might be able to get some of those answers at Georgia State are through the College to Career Initiative and the Career Services center.

After receiving a grant from Strada Education Network last school year, Georgia State decided to allocate some of the money received toward Career Services, specifically the College to Career Initiative, which aims to assist students in “becoming aware of career competencies, connecting those competencies to the work they do and demonstrating their proficiency of transferable skills.”

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In essence, the goal is to help students realize exactly how these courses and assignments will be transferable to the real world and less like abstract assignments just to get a degree.

This program was first implemented in fall 2018, then recently picked up by the Quality Enhancement Program as a primary focus and launched together this semester.

“We think Georgia State is one of the few — if not the only — universit[ies] that is making this intentional and strategic focus on how inherent career readiness is in coursework when the coursework is not specifically career focused,” Catherine Neiner, director of Career Services, said.

Since the implementation, introductory freshman courses across all campuses, such as GSU 1010 and PCO 1020, have been modified to include a College to Career module. This is intended to introduce students to the initiative at the earliest possible stages.

“This [module] is not to force students to decide what career to pursue,” Neiner said. “But rather to help students become aware of potential careers and then learn what actions should be taken to develop the skills and experiences that will make him or her a viable candidate for the ultimate career.”

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In addition to the College to Career modules, with help from state funding, State Farm LIFT and Goizueta grants, Georgia State was able to develop a stronger connection with e-portfolio systems.

Portfolium is the e-portfolio system Georgia State uses. It allows students to display their work, skills and achievements. In addition to creating their portfolios, students can connect with other Georgia State students and alumni. This provides students the opportunity to network with over 3,000 companies and apply for internships or full-time jobs.

Funding for Georgia State’s career-focused initiatives are also applied to faculty fellowship and training and departmental incentive grants. Departments wishing to receive funding to support College to Career projects must submit proposals to the Quality Enhancement Committee.

Faculty fellows develop pathway mapping, which plans the classes a Perimeter student takes years in advance, CTC focused in-class assignments for 2000-level and gateway courses, orientation materials for GSU 1010 and PCO 1020 and other College to Career-specific projects.

The Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL) also supports faculty training through several online and in-person training sessions available each week. Classes for faculty include “Mastering Online Teaching,” “Responding to Failing Students” and “Developing Effective Communication with Students.”

According to Dr. Angela Christie, the faculty director of College to Career, the training is meant to “teach faculty how to talk to students about career preparation and how to redo their pedagogical approach in class regardless of discipline.”

“When combined with the efforts of faculty to help students make coursework connection to career and with an e-portfolio to demonstrate career readiness, students should be better-equipped to navigate toward a satisfying career,” Neiner said.

In addition to College to Career Initiative, Career Services offers students a wide variety of opportunities. But are students taking advantage of them?

“All Career Services departments face the challenge of reaching all students,” Neiner said. “We want to not only be accessible but want students to feel comfortable to seek us out and then to have a good experience that helps relieve some of the anxiety of pursuing career.”

Neiner does not want students to think they have to be sure of the career path they want to take before coming to Career Services, because they can help students decide not only how to pursue a career but what skills, interests and abilities they can learn or use to point them toward the career that’s best for them. 

“On the flip side, I wish students would come to us rather than to their friends — or even their parents — for advice,” she said. “We are up-to-date on the best practices and have so many resources that we can share with any student.”

Many students may already be aware of Georgia State’s job board, Handshake, a tool for students on the job hunt. From searching for part-time or full-time internships to after-school serving and hosting jobs, Handshake has opportunities for all types of students. The platform, which is also available via mobile app, includes resume crafting software and event notifications related to Georgia State.

If you’re looking to update or set up your LinkedIn, free professional headshots are available Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. at Career Services in Student Center West, Suite 270.

To name a few other resources available, individual career counseling, graduate school preparation and several job search tools such as “What Can I Do With This Major,” “Career Shift” and “O*Net” are accessible through the University Career Services website (career.gsu.edu) for student use.

For students looking for an in-person experience, there will be two career fairs held on October 8 and 9 for students of all majors, and a Graduate School career fair Oct. 29. All events will take place on the first floor of Student Center East.