Despite the rise in scope and role of campus career centers and the role of faculty in career advising, faculty' perspectives on undergraduate careers have received minimal scholarly attention. We conducted a qualitative study bounded in a medium-sized R1 institution (i.e., a doctoral university with very high research activity in the Carnegie Classification of Institutions) in the Northeast to examine faculty perspectives on undergraduate career development and undergraduate career services. Eight faculty members participated in semistructured focus groups allowing for in-depth conversations and analysis. Using thematic analysis (Braun & Clarke, 2006), we identified five principal themes: (a) positive impressions of the career center, (b) barriers to faculty engagement, (c) collective responsibility for students' career development, (d) nonlinear career paths, and (e) student perceptions. Results indicate career centers should engage faculty as a constituent group, describe to faculty how centers help students address broad career questions, and tailor resources for faculty. Future research with larger, more diverse, and multi-institutional samples of faculty could expand knowledge in this area toward improved synergy between faculty and career centers in promoting student career development.
Keywords: college student career development, faculty perceptions, university career services, college career centers, thematic analysis
Since the introduction of career placement offices in the 1970s (Wessel, 1998), the scope of college and university career center offices has expanded. With the growing complexities of colleges and universities and the need for more specialized expertise to accomplish administrative tasks, such as career advising, faculty and administrators grew to fill significantly different roles (Birnbaum, 1988). As faculty focused more on teaching, research, and service, career services center staff moved in to fill the void (Johnston, 1994). Meanwhile, student career planning and decision-making have only increased in complexity because of multiple factors, including increased uncertainty of the work environment, a rapidly changing job market, the changing nature of work, and the changing social contract with employers as evidenced by the lack of a permanent relationship between employer and employee (Callanan et al., 2017). What were once considered the essential functions for a career center to provide to students, such as career counseling, educational programming, and employer recruiting, are now seen as insufficient as career centers are tasked with leading university-wide career initiatives and partnering with all campus stakeholders (Garis, 2014). Given the increasing demands on career centers and faculty and our own ongoing conversations with faculty, we aimed in the present study to understand faculty perspectives on student career development and on career advising with students.
With growing attention on college students' career development and the return on their investment for a college education (Walsh, 2020), colleges and universities increasingly recognize career readiness as an institutional priority (Cruzvergara et al., 2018). Career readiness entails competencies that prepare students to transition into the workforce, including critical thinking, problem-solving, oral and written communication, teamwork and collaboration, digital technology skills, leadership, professionalism and work ethic, career management, and global and intercultural fluency (National Association of Colleges and Employers, n.d.). To become career ready, students...