Starting early in their college program, Washington State University students will soon find out how college courses prepare them to be ready for a career, thanks to a pilot program of General Education of Common Requirements of the University. University (UCORE).
Fifteen educators make up the first cohort of the Core-to-Career program. Throughout the fall semester, they attend workshops and revise lesson plans to include lessons and homework related to desired job skills.
“In this way, courses across multiple disciplines will present messages about career preparation, and these lessons will impact students even before they declare their majors,” said Cliff Stratton, director of UCORE. UCORE is part of the Academic Engagement and Student Success Division of the Office of the Rector and Executive Vice President.
“Building on some of their early college courses, this unique initiative aims to help students learn, cultivate and be able to communicate on specific and valued skills. Ultimately, it could help them achieve their future professional and personal goals.
Skills that employers value
The pilot program uses eight professional skills identified by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) as a framework, Stratton said. The organization has been a source of information on the employment of college graduates since 1956.
These skills are:
- Critical mind
- career and personal development
- equity and inclusion
- team work
“Like others at WSU, we value and use the information and data from NACE when planning pathways to student success.”
Basic Career Program
In seven workshops, faculty fellows are led by facilitators through competency-aligned topics. The faculty is reviewing the curricula for several Spring 2022 courses that will impact literally thousands of undergraduates.
Students in these classes will develop presentations, team projects, web pages or social media campaigns, for example, related to a professional skill. They will also write reflections on how classroom work translates into career preparation.
“Our intention is for faculty to explicitly help students take advantage of general courses to add meaningful examples of skills to their resumes and portfolios, and be able to talk about them as examples in interviews,” said Stratton.
Innovation supported by donors
Support for the pilot program came from a close source. WSU retired faculty member and WSU alumnus Carl Hauser (’75 Computer Science) served on the committee that designed the UCORE program a decade ago and strongly believes in the importance of general education. When Stratton and Vice-President retired for academic engagement and student success Mary F. Wack shared the Core-to-Career vision, Hauser was determined to invest in it.
“Students spend almost a quarter of their training hours in UCORE courses, so I am in favor of reinforcing the relevance of these,” he said. “It is important that students enjoy the lessons in the moment and understand what they are talking about.
“Creating a career component in courses can help undergraduates better recognize relevance. This will help them take advantage of general education and see that they derive value from these courses. “
Faculty Fellows who complete the workshop program and infuse professional skill exercises into their courses will each receive a stipend for their efforts.
Next planned cohort
Stratton said the scholarship program is expected to expand to other lower division UCORE courses and campuses beyond Pullman with subsequent cohorts.
“The goal is that by 2024 it will be relatively difficult for an undergraduate student in four years notto engage the habits of mind and action that signal career readiness in their first two years, ”he said.
Basic cohort to inaugural quarry (2021-22)
- Daryl Deford, Department of Mathematics and Statistics
- Teena Edwards, Department of Strategic Communication
- Ken Faunce, Department of History
- Michael Goldsby, School of Politics, Philosophy and Public Affairs
- Amy Heile, English Department
- Jeanette Martin, Department of Mathematics and Statistics
- AJ Miller, School of Music
- Karen Phoenix, Department of History
- Eugène Smelyansky, Department of History
- Michael Thomas, English Department
- Erin Tomson, Department of Strategic Communication
- Lora Tsui, Department of Strategic Communication
- Kate Watts, English Department
- Katy Whalen, Department of History
- Anna Whitehall, Department of Human Development
Basic career organizers
- Chris Cooney, Department of Management, Information Systems and Entrepreneurship
- Joe Hewa, Department of Human Development and Center for Transformational Learning and Leadership
- Clif Stratton, DAESA / UCORE and Department of History