Create a Career Profile For Your Online Students

Career ProfileCollege students, especially those studying online, are often motivated to enroll as a way to enter a new field or advance in their current jobs. The Learning House’s latest report shows that career goals are a top priority for these students. Direct assistance with these goals is, however, often left to the career center or advisors to manage, or react to, if and when students decide to seek assistance.

What can instructors do at the course level to help prepare students to meet their career goals? Chances are that you have some practical experience working in the field you teach, as well as a professional network of peers. Consider creating a specialized resource, or collection of resources, to share with your students. A “career profile” is one way to organize relevant information, providing a starting point for career exploration and development, as well as job search basics.

Career Profile Checklist

What should your profile include? It can be as detailed as you want to make it. Start with a foundation of the most important resources with an understanding that you can continue to build on it in future semesters. Here is a list of categories you can consider adding; think about which areas make the most sense for your students and in your field:

  • Job title(s): What do students in your courses aspire to become? Pick one or two of the most common job titles to frame the content you’ll include in your profile.
  • Job description(s): Write these yourself from your experience to include workplace responsibilities and desirable qualifications, or link to current listings on job search sites like Monster, Indeed, and Career Builder.
  • Salary expectations: What can an entry-level professional expect to earn? What about someone with a few years of experience or mid-career status? The Bureau of Labor Statistics provides detailed breakdowns by state and region.
  • Professional Associations: Share the most relevant organizations for students to be aware of in your career field. Many have student membership rates, as well as networking activities and publications for those just getting started.
  • LinkedIn Groups: LinkedIn remains the premier online community for professional networking. Can you recommend one or two Groups that would help your students build their networks and knowledge of what to expect on the job after graduation?
  • Key Skills and Competencies: Employers expect a lot from new graduates – that they will arrive with both soft skills and technical competencies, and require little training to get started in the job. Which skills should your students be practicing now so that they will be competitive applicants?
  • Leaders in the Field: Recommend a few social media accounts your students should follow. These can include professionals you know personally, authors and researchers, CEOs and public speakers, and more.
  • Reading List: Create a short list of must-read books and articles. You could also link to items you’ve tagged with a related term (e.g., EDU101, Nursing Careers, Job Info) in a social bookmarking tool like Diigo.
  • Your Story: Go beyond your faculty bio to share the story of how you began your career. Whether it was a well-planned path or the result of an unexpected opportunity, you’ll connect with your students in a new way.
  • Student Feedback: If you are still connected with some of your former students, ask them to provide their advice to current students or recommend additional resources for the profile.

Get Organized

Fortunately, there are a lot of existing materials to help you create your own career profiles. Use these as inspiration or as resources you can add to your collection:

  • CareerOneStop: Browse the occupation profile library and certification finder.
  • O*Net Online: Review detailed work descriptions, and crosswalks connecting military and civilian occupations if your program attracts military students and veterans.
  • Salary Sites: PayScale and Salary.com are just two sites that collect data about current salaries, which students can use to help set realistic expectations based on their own levels of education and experience.
  • Your school’s career center: Add a link to the center’s website and mention a specific counselor, coach or advisor, if one is specifically assigned to work with your academic department or your students’ majors.

There are multiple options for presenting your career profile to students. Choose something that will be easy for you to establish and update as needed. Possible formats range from simple to complex, and include the following:

  • PDF: Perhaps the easiest way to get started is creating a PDF with embedded links. You an upload this file to your course for students to download and save, or send it as an email attachment.
  • LiveBinders: This free-to-use curation tool allows you to create a virtual 3-ring binder with tabbed pages. You can add links, images, Google Docs and more.
  • Tackk: Another free tool, Tackk’s format provides organized content with an added social component. Students can add comments to and “favorite” the items you post on your career profile page.
  • Blogging Tools: If you already have a blog, consider adding a “Career Profile” page for students. If you don’t have a blog, you can try a user-friendly platform like Blogger or WordPress to quickly set up a web-based resource focused on career information and the interests of your student audience.

Keep it Current

The initial set-up is the most time consuming part of providing a career profile resource for your students. You’ve got to make a few decisions about format and content. After you have the basics in place, it’s just a matter of maintaining and updating the materials periodically. Add “update career profile” to your course prep scheduled each term. A quick review and a few tweaks will ensure all links work and all resources continue to be relevant.

Once students have had the opportunity to access and explore your career profile resources, ask them for specific feedback. A brief survey or poll can help you determine which items were most helpful, and what additional materials students would like you to include.

Help your students learn more about the “real world” of jobs in your field, even if your course isn’t designed for career preparation. A career profile provides advice and materials that can be used across classes and academic terms.

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Source: Inside Online Learning Blog