According to the popular tech blog TechCrunch, individuals between the ages of 18-25 currently suffer from one of the highest levels of unemployment—a staggering 25 percent.  Over the past decade, the job search and application processes have moved largely online, making career prospects more plentiful, but also more competitive. While today’s college students are technologically savvy, they need to be educated and trained how to mobilize online resources to their professional advantage. This project combines faculty, career center staff and technological resources of two ACS institutions—Rollins College and the University of Richmond—to generate several blended learning modules designed to develop and hone students’ skills in personal branding, professional networking and interviewing.
The specific goals of this project are as follows:
1. Provide students with the opportunity to engage in career-related activities with peers at a sister institution, thus modeling and preparing them for the kind of collaborative, inter-institutional work they will be doing in their professional careers.
2. Create a way for students to expand and share their professional contacts with individuals at another ACS institution. Building these networks will help students to develop and hone their networking etiquette as well as broaden the scope of their job searches.
3. Design a portable course template that can be appropriated easily by other ACS institutions. Expanding the breadth of career planning courses offered throughout the consortium, in turn, will promote increased interface between institutions, their students, and alumni networks.
In the Fall 2013 and Spring 2014 semesters, students enrolled in Jana Mathews and Anne Meehan’s Career Planning course (Rollins) collaborated with students enrolled in Beth Chancy’s Life and Careers course (Richmond) on a number of blended learning assignments. The first cluster of assignments worked to help students develop a personal brand to enhance future marketability using LinkedIn. With over 200 million users in 200 countries, LinkedIn is the world’s largest online professional networking website. Through a series of linked assignments, students at Rollins and Richmond a) created professional LinkedIn profiles, b) critiqued and offered feedback on their peers’ profiles, c) learned and honed online networking etiquette by connecting with students at each other’s respective institutions, d) joined relevant alumni groups, the ACS Networking Group, and other industry groups, e) took part in a series of ACS Networking Group online discussions on career-related topics, and f) competed in team-based LinkedIn scavenger hunts covering job search and career-related topics. The second group of assignments involved using an innovative online, practice interviewing system. Students from each school used this program to conduct and evaluate pre-recorded practice job/internship interviews of their peers from the other institution and provide feedback to improve each other’s performance.
The website contains related syllabi, lesson plans, assignments, and other materials that other colleges and institutions can use as templates for future blended learning career courses. Our long-term goal is to expand the network of participation in this project to other ACS partner institutions, thus enabling students to expand their professional contacts beyond their home institutions to students, alumni, and associates from all ACS schools.
Rip Empson, “Building Digital Literacy: JobScout Brings It Online Learning Platform to iOS To Teach You How to Find a Job.” TechCrunch.com. January 29, 2013. Web. Date accessed February 26, 2013.