On almost any given day, an Upper Iowa University Office of Career Development staff member witnesses the benefits of alumni and current students connecting with another experienced professional in their field. As a member of the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), UIU Career Development is able to access professional standards, competencies and principles for professional practice to the benefit of all students and alumni. In addition, joining the Career Mentoring Network is a great way for alumni to give back to the University, while extending a sense of pride.
“Alumni have contributed to our office in many ways, and we’d love for even more to join our programs,” UIU Director of Career Development Hope Trainor said. “Many alumni find students to be a good fit for a job or internship position at their company, and connecting with alumni allows the students to jumpstart their career and enhance their academic performance.”
UIU’s Office of Career Development seeks partnership with alumni to prepare students for their future career. The introduction of the Career Mentoring Network program allows alumni and students to connect by providing them with career guidance and networking opportunities.
Alumni mentors provide students with career assistance such as generating an industry specific resume, encouragement during the academic program, advice on important course and fieldwork, and provide opportunities to make professional contacts. The Career Mentoring Network program not only allows alumni to be mentors, but works as a platform for them to seek advice too. Alumni can contact the office if they need to connect with a mentor.
“I don’t think alumni and students realize how much we can help them,” UIU Career Development Specialist Anne Puffett said. “Not only can they ask career-related questions, but we welcome questions regarding strategies to meet their occupational goals.”
Puffett noted that underclassmen are encouraged to participate in the program as the participating alumni can also help students reflect on real-world experiences that can contribute to their success or become involved in job shadowing opportunities in their chosen career field.
“I searched for mentors with a psychology background, and it was very easy to contact one,” Charis Lee, a junior year psychology major from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, said. “I didn’t expect my mentor to respond to me in 24 hours and suggest we meet on Campus. It’s really fun and exciting to speak to someone who is able to guide me.”
In addition, Trainor shared the story of one alum who called Career Development for ways to improve his business. The UIU staff helped the individual network with other people who were successful in his career field.
“Career development is a lifelong process because people are lifelong learners,” Puffett added. “We’re here to help students and alumni in any career-related assistance they need. Our support and services are available not only here at Fayette Campus, but also for our center, online and international center students. We’re also here to help our alumni regardless of when they graduated.”
There are many career development programs in which alumni can benefit through their alma mater. Not only can alumni employ a highly qualified Peacock intern or new hire, but they, too, can discover a new career path. On the Career Mentoring Network, they can elect from conducting informational or practice interviews, critiquing resumes and cover letters, networking with students, offering graduate school advice, serving as a mentor or internship sponsor, shadowing, speaking at club events and connecting with other alumni.
“We’ve also had alumni visit classrooms, connect with students who aren’t on the portal, give talks and workshops, and set up booths for recruitment,” Trainor said.
The goal of Career Development is to expand its office to become a true career development “center” and help all Peacocks in even more ways. In 2019, the Office of Career Development hopes to see current students further establish career readiness by making even stronger connections with alumni.
Career readiness is defined by NACE as “the attainment and demonstration of requisite competencies that broadly prepare college graduates for a successful transition into the workplace.”
NACE provides the industry’s top resources and is great for networking and gaining professional development. Through a task force of college career services and staffing professionals, NACE has identified eight competencies associated with career readiness. The competencies are critical thinking and problem solving, oral and written communications, teamwork and collaboration, digital technology, leadership, professionalism and work ethic, career management, and global and intercultural fluency.
To prepare students for their future career, UIU utilizes NACE in developing strategies and highlights these competencies in academic courses and outside of the classroom.
“We are continually investigating better ways to create awareness for our students and alumni,” Trainor said. “Currently, we are seeking new alumni partnerships to assist in expanding our Peacock networking across the globe.”
The Office of Career Development collects data indicating that UIU students find employment or enter graduate school at a higher rate than the national and regional averages. A total of 94.3% of UIU graduates from the Class of 2018 were employed or in graduate school within six months of graduation. [Source: 2017 Graduate Survey/ Application (1354 responses/1618 surveyed)].
To serve as a mentor, alumni are required to complete a brief Career Development Questionnaire as part of their profile and join the Peacock network. A link to the questionnaire can be found on the Career Development website or visit https://bit.ly/2VmheZG.
For additional information about UIU Office of Career Development services, visit uiu.edu/careers. To make an appointment or to discuss how you can become involved, call Hope Trainor at 563-425-5208, Anne Puffett at 563-425-5229 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.