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Planning for the classroom and the boardroom

Meghan Dorn

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As I enter the final days of my undergraduate career at The University of Alabama, I feel confident about my academic journey at the University. My advisor did a great job to make sure I finished my public relations degree on time, and when we saw that I was completing it at an accelerated rate, he pushed me to pick up another major and eventually a minor as well. His guidance helped me get to the finish line on time, with courses that I feel have equipped me for the workforce.

But what about actually landing that first job instead of just being prepared to work it? The University offers a top of the line Career Center, which has a beautiful office on the second floor of the Ferguson Center. They offer countless services to get you ready to work – such as resume reviews, mock interviews, industry interviews and even their own internal job posting website (similar to a LinkedIn or Monster just for UA students). With all of these resources, it seems as though on graduation day every student with a UA degree in their hand should have a crisp job offer in their other.

However these two forms of advising – academic and career – are hosted separately from each other when it seems to me that they should go hand in hand. You can better prepare for your next class if you’ve decided specifically on what type of job you’re pursuing – such as how you may be generally pursuing a career in restaurant and hospitality management, but you could be made a more competitive applicant by having computer application skills, as many businesses are doing reservations and bookings online now. With a holistic view of academics and career knowledge, you can take courses that will help you achieve a degree and also your dream job.

The National Academic Advising Association released a report authored by Betsy McCalla-Riggins, which went into more detail on the value of integrating career advising and academic advising. She wrote, “Integrating career and academic advising is an important consideration for advisors who seek to better assist students as they make decisions that will impact the rest of their lives. As reported in a 2007 NACADA survey, 74 percent of the advisors who responded agreed that helping students make career decisions was important to their role as academic advisors. In addition, 79 percent wanted to know more about how to effectively help students make career decisions.”

As I understand with the model that we have now, students who really want to take advantage of the Career Center’s services have to go out and get it – which does align with the belief that if you want a job, you have to take that next step to put yourself out there. But I believe that if we made this service more integrated or at least pushed by our academic advisors, it could be made clearer for students that this is a crucial step they should take in order to better their future careers. The NACADA report I referenced earlier recommends that this integration is best done “when advisors have a clear definition of career advising, understand the similarities and differences between academic and career advising, obtain additional resources and competencies, and work collaboratively with others on campus.”

The University has the resources to push our students further and make them stand out in this competitive economic market. We need to bring these key advisors together to take advantage of the great materials we already have on campus and to make sure our students have both hands full of opportunity they deserve on graduation day.

Meghan Dorn is a senior majoring in political science and public relations. Her column runs biweekly.

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Planning for the classroom and the boardroom