PRESENTATION OVERVIEW FROM CONFERENCE PROGRAM
Jennifer Woodside & Evana Delay, University of Waterloo
In May 2016, the University of Waterloo’s Professional Development Program (WatPD) and Centre for Career Action (CCA) partnered to initiate a shift away from the institution’s long-established, exclusively-online model for co-op prep course delivery. The new format for Co-op Fundamentals was introduced to support students more intentionally and personally through their first co-op job search; specifically, through the replacement of online with in-person TA-led resume critiques and mock interview evaluations.
This presentation will tell the story of why such a change was pursued, how the new model is influencing student outcomes to date, and ultimately how it has transformed each partner’s ability to help 3000+ students navigate UW’s competitive co-op process in one year. Moreover, it will offer up for discussion some emerging best practices vis-à-vis student-staff training models, supervisory/mentorship relationships between students and staff, and managing the logistics of a hybrid delivery model.
- Career development
- Professional development
- Peer mentorship
- Mock interviews
- Résumé critiques
- Personalized support
- Student engagement
- Student support
Jennifer Woodside, University of Waterloo
As Director of the Centre for Career Action, Jennifer is a member of the Co-operative Education & Career Action (CECA) leadership team. She is accountable for the management of the Centre for Career Action and the development, continuous improvement, and innovative deployment of career development support to UWaterloo students, alumni, and employees.
Evana Delay, University of Waterloo
Evana is accountable for the administration and instructional support of Waterloo Professional Development Program (WatPD) courses in Co-op Fundamentals and Intercultural Skills. She holds a Bachelor or Education (University of Ottawa), as well as a Master of Arts and a Bachelor of Mathematics, both from the University of Waterloo.
LINK TO PRESENTATION
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The Waterloo Professional Development Program (WatPD), and the Centre for Career Action (CCA) are two departments at the University of Waterloo who report into the Associate Provost, Co-operative & Experiential Education. We have been working together since 2008 and collectively, each in our own way, prepare students for the workforce.
Each of Waterloo’s six faculties has its own WatPD requirements, and all faculties participate in a Career Development course as part of their degree requirements. PD1: Career Fundamentals is designed to take 20 hours in total over a 10 week period, during a student’s recruitment term. It has students create résumés before beginning to apply for jobs through Orbis; it then educates students on the art and science of interviewing effectively, and then finally it covers how to navigate the co-op cycle, networking, and finally success on the job.
Since Spring 2016, WatPD and CCA have worked closely together to offer an improved support model, where students are assigned a TA, with a ratio of 30-45 students per TA. Students are encouraged to contact their TA directly when questions arise, and have a dedicated mentor during what can be a stressful and unfamiliar term – searching for their first co-op job. Students now have the opportunity to attend an in-person résumé critique with their TA, and receive verbal feedback before the first job posting. Verbal feedback results in more actionable feedback, a more thorough discussion as to why it is important to articulate one’s skills, and what employers are looking for. Students also have the opportunity to attend a mock interview, where they are able to not only practice their interview skills, but also familiarize themselves with the co-op building, where all on-campus interviews take place.
In order to implement the improved support model, WatPD’s hiring needs were modified to accommodate the small student to TA ratio. We also had to carefully model the student to TA ratio in order to provide the best support while optimizing our resources. Most importantly, we have had to extensively modify our TA training to encompass in-person résumé critiques and mock interviews. We went from a 2-hour lecture-style training session per topic, to adding a full day of training per topic which included workshops, peer to peer critiquing and intensive critique shadowing.
After one term of running the model, CCA requested additional support from WatPD for the TAs to help reach out to unemployed co-op students at mid-term, and prompt them to rethink their job search strategy and tactics, encouraging them to come in for co-op or career supports. We capitalized on established TA-student relationships; they had already been doing their own outreach, and this collaboration enabled the TAs to do so with more information to inform their messaging.
The flipped classroom has yielded great results: CCA has not seen a drop in demand for career, employment or co-op supports, but the workflow across the co-op cycle is more manageable due to the shared outreach. We take great comfort in knowing that we are indirectly reaching far more students than would have ever been possible through our own direct efforts. Students are also being referred to see career advisors sooner, and by someone they know and appreciate. We also can’t ignore the results on a more affective front. WatPD TAs often receive emails from their students throughout the term, thanking them for the support, and thank TAs by name on their anonymous end of course surveys.
WatPD and CCA will continue to work together to develop additional targeting strategies for students during the unemployed student management process, to capitalize on the pre-existing relationship the TAs have with students.
Implications to Career Education
Over the course of a year, we have conducted over 2200 résumé critiques and over 1700 mock interviews, where approximately 70% of students attend a résumé critique and 50% attend a mock interview each term. We have also seen that students who attend a résumé critique or mock interview earn a higher grade on the corresponding assignment. They have already received un-graded feedback in-person, and can apply that feedback to their graded, written submissions. Students were overall satisfied with the résumé critiques and mock interview events, and on average felt 20% more prepared to apply to upcoming job postings and participate in interviews after having attended the corresponding event.