Texas Tech University deploys Career Success Program to help students align academic and career planning

Texas Tech University deploys Career Success Program to help students align academic and career planning

Key Findings

  • Students are focusing much earlier than before on career readiness, linking career and academic planning, and creating assets that showcase their personal brand and demonstrate employability skills.
  • Data shows students engaging deeply with Career Success Program, progressively developing assets like an elevator pitch, resume, and LinkedIn profile that research shows are linked to interview and hiring opportunities.

School name
Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX

Course name
Fundamentals of Business Professionalism

Course format
Face to face

Course materials
Career Success Program

Timeframe
Fall 2017

Administrators and faculty
Barry Broughton, Senior Director, Rawls College of Business Career Management Center and Center for Global Engagement

Laura K. Sanders, CCMC- Director, Career Services Rawls College of Business Career Management Center

Jamie Pitman, Associate Director of Student Development, Rawls College of Business Career Management Center

Results reported by
Lauren Gill, Senior Results Manager, Readiness, Progression, & Employability

Setting

The Rawls College of Business at Texas Tech University is one of the nation’s leading undergraduate and graduate business schools. Fundamentals of Business Professionalism, Rawls’ one-semester required Intro to Business course, serves 1500 to 2000 students each year.

About the Course

Fundamentals of Business Professionalism is designed to prepare students for all aspects of choosing a successful career path. Through lectures, discussions, class activities, and assignments, students are challenged to think deeply about their academic and career goals, to commence a long-term relationship with the Career Management Center, and to create artifacts (like a resume and LinkedIn profile) that will demonstrate their employer-focused skills.

We want students to connect their academic work to their career aspirations from their earliest moments on our campus. And we want students — throughout their Rawls experience — to intentionally develop and demonstrate the skills and competencies that employers seek.

Challenges and Goals

The current competitive employment landscape does not allow students to put off career planning until senior year. Texas Tech graduates seek jobs in Dallas, Houston, Austin, and beyond. Employer feedback indicated that Rawls College graduates did not display networking or interviewing skills commensurate with their strong academic preparation. Recognizing an opportunity to infuse career planning throughout students’ academic journey, Rawls College’s dean supported implementation of Career Success Program to fundamentally re-engineer the business curriculum.

Director Laura Sanders describes the decision to make a dramatic curriculum change, “We were already teaching portions of the course as guest instructors; we’d come into the class to teach discrete topics like resumes. But we weren’t convinced that our guest appearances were changing students’ behaviors. We wanted to make a stronger connection with students, get students engaged with the Career Center as freshmen and build their portfolio and career skills systematically as they pursued their academic journey. So in Spring 2017 we opted to teach the course directly — three instructors from the Career Center alongside a couple of TAs. We adopted Career Success Program because it reinforces the priorities we have as instructors.”

Senior Director Barry Broughton explains, “We embraced an opportunity to strengthen outcomes for our students and to be more responsive to employer needs. We want students to connect their academic work to their career aspirations from their earliest moments on our campus. And we want students — throughout their Rawls experience — to intentionally develop and demonstrate the skills and competencies that employers seek.

Implementation

Rawls’ customized version of Career Success Program integrates self-discovery assessments like the Conley Readiness Index, access to Rawls College career resources, and comprehensive career development experiences within the CSP platform, enabling students to demonstrate competencies as they progress.

Associate Director of Student Development Jamie Pitman notes, “We opted to customize our Career Success Program course, but that’s not necessary. Career Success Program provides a complete course experience right out of the box. We rely on Career Success Program to give students a thorough grounding in the fundamentals, thereby giving us the freedom to build on that foundation and go further in our lectures, discussions, and class activities. For instance, CSP gives students clear, step-by-step, research-based guidance on creating a LinkedIn profile and similarly deep instruction on developing a personal brand, networking and interviewing–all of the milestones.”

She continues, “We believe that our approach — using Career Success Program, teaching this course ourselves and connecting students early on with the Career Center and with us — helps with retention. The required activities — assessment and activities that help students learn about themselves, picking a major, etc. — help crystallize students’ ultimate aspirations, put them on a path to realize those aspirations, and help them begin making demonstrable progress early in their academic journey.”

Pitman notes, “A very practical benefit of using Career Success Program and its required activities is that it prepares our students early on to apply for internships and job opportunities. Our system won’t allow students to apply for jobs without a resume. We take care of that requirement so that our students are never at a disadvantage.”

We believe that our approach — using Career Success Program, teaching this course ourselves and connecting students early on with the Career Center and with us — helps with retention.

Assessments

  • 40% Midterm and final
  • 30% Projects (Resume, LinkedIn Profile, Build Your Career Success Program Profile)
  • 30% Assignments (StrengthsQuest Results, Understand Your Brand, Elevator Pitch, Create a Career Goal, Career Fair Reflection, Research Careers)

Results and Data

According to The Class of 2017 Job Outlook Report conducted by talent acquisition software company iCIMs, the capacity valued as most important by recruiters and hiring managers (65%) is strong written and oral communication skills. The research also found that more than 60% of recruiters rate graduates’ interviewing skills as needing improvement.1

A 2017 survey of employment recruiters found that recruiters had favorable perceptions of the use of ePortfolios in the job search process with 85 percent of recruiters reporting that if students followed up with them via email with a link to a relevant part of their ePortfolio, they would visit the link.2

Barry Broughton states, “Our elevator pitch assignment is a direct response to employers’ increasing use of short (1 to 2 minute) video clips as a candidate evaluation tool. Indeed, all of our assignments and projects — and our use of Career Success Program — are intended to help students create employer-focused assets that represent their authentic selves.”

He continues, “Behaviors drive outcomes. Participation in the course content milestones and completion of the assets in Career Success Program will help our students own their college learning experience and compete successfully in a fast-evolving global marketplace.”

Career Success Milestone Interaction

Figure 1. Percentage of Students Engaging Milestone Course Content and Participating in Milestone Activities (n=931)

Research indicates that LinkedIn profiles with candidate photos are seen as more credible and more competent than those without. In a journal article entitled, “Social presence on LinkedIn: Perceived Credibility and Interpersonal Attractiveness Based on User Profile Picture,” researchers concluded that candidates with incomplete profiles appear to be at risk of missing opportunities while candidates with complete profiles, including a photo, seem to be far more likely to be considered for hiring.” 3

Career Success Program Interaction

Figure 2. Percentage of Students Completing and Customizing Assets in Career Success Program (n=931)

Broughton states, “As educators, we think critically about what’s easy to measure versus what’s important to measure. Early on in this transition, we struggled to capture the evidence that students were behaving in ways that would lead to the outcomes we sought. Career Success Program enables us to evaluate students’ progress as they progressively build a personal brand and infuse their academic understanding with employer-ready skills and demonstrated accomplishments.”

Career Success Program enables us to evaluate students’ progress as they progressively build a personal brand and infuse their academic understanding with employer-ready skills and demonstrated accomplishments.

The Student Experience

Director Laura Sanders relates, “We are still awaiting the course evaluations that will provide detailed feedback, but our observations are that students are much happier in the career-focused course. Students feel a connection to the course content and value what they are learning; they are invested in connecting their academic learning directly to career outcomes. Our experience with Career Success Program this Fall was positive; students are impressed with the way the platform looks and functions.”

Barry Broughton says, “Students appreciate and value the elements they know are of both immediate and long-term value and application: their elevator pitch, resume, and LinkedIn profile.”

Career Success Program supported our program goals and provided a framework for students to discover, develop, and demonstrate their career readiness.

Conclusion

Sanders says, “We understand that career readiness is not accomplished in a single course; students develop the requisite skills and capacities over time. What we are absolutely sure of is that students must begin early in order to realize their ambitions and potential fully. And we think the Fundamentals of Business Professionalism course is the ideal place for students to begin. Students build foundational assets in this course that they will expand and refine over time.”

Barry Broughton sums up, “We set a goal to help our students acquire — early on — the behaviors, skills, and capacities that align their academic pathways with their career aspirations. Career Success Program supported our program goals and provided a framework for students to discover, develop, and demonstrate their career readiness. Results from our first year indicate that students are embracing the behaviors that will drive increased success here at Rawls and in successful careers post-graduation.”

 

1 https://www.icims.com/hiring-insights/for-employers/ebook-the-class-of-2017-job-outlook-report

2 Ronda L. Leahy and Ariana Filiatrault, Employers’ Perceptions of the Benefits of Employment Electronic Portfolios in International Journal of ePortfolio, Vol. 7, Number 2, 2017

3 Chad Edwards, Brett Stoll, Natalie Faculak, and Sandi Karman, “Social presence on LinkedIn: Perceived Credibility and Interpersonal Attractiveness Based on User Profile Picture,” in Online Journal of Communication and Media Technologies, Vol. 5, Issue 4, October 2015