An Evaluation by Student and Academic Affairs Professionals of Programs That Support Career Readiness and Meet Employer Expectations

An Evaluation by Student and Academic Affairs Professionals of Programs That Support Career Readiness and Meet Employer Expectations

Teresa E. Simpson (Lamar University, USA) and Michael R. Wilkinson (Universiy of Houston-Victoria, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-4108-1.ch006
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Abstract

Higher education institutions are concerned about graduates getting good jobs because it is an outcome expected by students, it contributes to a positive image of the institution, and it can help provide accountability for institutional programs. Institutions have become more concerned with meeting students' expectations about their college experience and related career goals and facing increasing pressure to demonstrate the value of programs and services offered. Through extensive research between higher education, the Society for Human Resource Managers and employers both domestic and international are able to show that employers endorse learning outcomes for college graduates that are developed through a blend of liberal and experiential curriculum. Employers believe that colleges can best prepare graduates for long-term career success by helping them develop both a broad range of skills and knowledge and in-depth skills and knowledge in a specific field or major.
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Introduction

It is evident that employers will continue to challenge higher education to produce candidates who are better prepared for the workforce (Drucker 2014). As technology and choices continue to evolve, students will also evaluate colleges and universities based on programs/curriculum that can enhance their employment candidacy (Hullinger, 2015). Student questions are shifting from is there greek life on campus to when can I start an internship (Connor & Fringer, 2015). Therefore, for student affairs to be sustainable and thrive, finding ways to teach students to understand and articulate the skills gained from employment and involvement in those co-curricular experiences will be essential (Peck et al. 2015). “Faculty and Student Affairs all need to be more engaged here….We need to look beyond the career center to a more holistic experience…the notion of developing a meaningful career is something students should be engaged in throughout their entire academic experience.” (Kruger, 2014).

College students and the institutions they attend are paying more attention to appropriate career employment as an expected outcome of college graduation. Students indicated that career goals are a primary motivation for earning a degree (Astin, 1993, Boyer, 1990, Pascarella & Terenzini, 1991) and colleges face demands to be accountable concerning the educational outcomes of graduates (Baird, 1996). Freshmen often identify enhanced employment opportunities as an expected outcome of college, with a majority indicating that two “very important” reasons for attending college are “to be able to make more money” or “to get a better job” (Sax, Astin, Korn, & Mahoney, 1998).

Higher education institutions are concerned about graduates getting good jobs because it is an outcome expected by students, it contributes to a positive image of the institution, and it can help provide accountability for institutional programs (National Association of College and University Business Officers, 1992; U.S. Department of Education, 1988). Due to increases in both the cost of higher education and in competition among institutions for students, colleges are becoming more consumer-oriented and concerned with the satisfaction level of their students. Institutions have become more concerned with meeting students’ expectations about their college experience and related career goals and facing increasing pressure to demonstrate the value of programs and services offered (National Association of College and University Business Officers, 1992; U.S. Department of Education, 1988).

Colleges often address concerns about the employment of graduating seniors with programs and services to assist seniors with the job search, such as campus interviews, resume workshops, and job fairs. However, students’ readiness to implement job search and career plans may be more critical to their success than the availability of services to assist them (Kanfer & Hulin, 1985). This readiness to attend to job search activities and students’ success in obtaining job offers may be dependent on each student’s resolution of developmental issues related to identifying and implementing a career plan (Schwab, Rynes, & Aldag, 1987). The degree to which students engage in activities such as preparing a resume, researching prospective employers, and networking with friends and family may reflect their internal readiness to make the transition from talking and thinking about career plans to implementing them (Kopelman, Rovenpor, & Milsap, 1992).

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