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The Future of Career Services is Here

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The Future of Career Services is Here

If there’s one takeaway attendees at July’s Tacoma Liberal Arts Leadership Summit walked away with, it’s that there’s never been a better time to advance the role of Career Services – the future of Career Services is here. 

Strategist Denny Meadows shared the five primary challenges facing higher education today: rising costs, disconnected relevance, divided public opinion, changing demographics, and upheaval in the future of work.

In the face of these very real challenges, Career Services can be a “secret weapon” for colleges and universities. After all, Career Services teams are well-positioned to:

  1. Demonstrate the connection between academic interests and real-world applications
  2. Ensure that students and families realize an appropriate rate of return on their considerable investment in a college education
  3. Foster important relationships with key employers – not just to provide summer internships and full-time jobs, but also to offer feedback on graduates’ preparedness and on the skills and competencies new graduates will need to be future-ready

“As of TODAY, stop thinking of yourself as a cost center

and start thinking of yourself as a solution center.”

– Denny Meadows, Higher Education Strategist

And yet, the same Career Services model isn’t quite enough. The future of work requires us to hit the “refresh” button. The gig economy and artificial intelligence are already beginning to change the career profiles of today’s graduates, and the pace of change will only accelerate from here. First destinations still matter, but so do the lifelong career self-management skills that will be necessary to navigate an increasingly complex world.

Only the very fortunate few Career Services offices will garner more resources to apply toward this student-focused, future-ready mission. The rest of us must devise new action plans that are even more strategic, more collaborative, more networked, and more disciplined than before.

Creating such an action plan requires clarity, above all, in articulating what problem Career Services is trying to solve. Next it requires creativity in brainstorming the obstacles for students, the headwinds and tailwinds we face within our institutions, and the range of possible alternatives open to us. And, finally, an effective Career Services re-fresh requires a healthy dose of analysis to make optimal recommendations, to quantify required resources, to set metrics and milestones, and to win the support of key partners.

Hitting “refresh” isn’t easy, but it is important. After all, in Career Services we are stewards of the future.

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