The National Convergence Technology Center (CTC) works hard to support convergence programs (IT and communications) around the country and prepare students for lucrative jobs in the IT space. But no matter how well-trained faculty members are or how cutting-edge curriculum may be, students won’t get jobs unless they know what jobs are out there. We recently asked our community of practice, the Convergence College Network (CCN), what strategies they employ at their schools to tell students about IT jobs and career paths. How do students know where to go once they have their degree or certificate?
- Research papers – An instructor at one school assigns a “career research paper” to each of her students. They learn about possible jobs in their area of study, including salary and experience/certification requirements. The class trades papers so everyone benefits.
- Guided career search – A couple of faculty members reported that they conduct group job searches online in the classroom. One explores the local job market using Craig’s List and Monster, while another digs into the city-by-city data collected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. We were told that in many cases this work will turn up jobs and career paths the students hadn’t considered.
- Informational meetings – One school’s fall IT business seminar is growing more and more popular with each year. The event begins with a keynote presentation, followed by a panel of business leaders (some of whom are graduates) that’s part moderated discussion and part Q&A for current students. It’s a great way for students to hear directly from working professionals about job opportunities and career paths. One added bonus to this strategy: it gives the school’s BILT (Business and Industry Leadership Team) another way to be engaged with the program outside of curriculum meetings.
- Career services – Beyond what you can do at your own department, some schools enjoy the benefit of an active career services staff. In one case, local companies send job postings directly to the school’s career services office, which then sends customized weekly email summaries to students. Students thus get an ongoing, regular snapshot look at their local job market.
- Speed networking – Different from a traditional job fair, speed networking involves a “round robin” series of short (5-7 minutes), one-on-one sit-downs between students and employers. During their time together, the student can ask questions about the employer, about the industry, or about specific jobs.