The EAB Daily Briefing

How Ryerson and Western Oregon enriched on-campus student work

September 11, 2017

As post-graduate employment concerns have multiplied for undergraduates so too have internships, co-ops, and job-shadowing opportunities. But institutions with internship requirements for graduation, institutions in rural areas and those in urban ones clogged with a myriad of other universities all face their own challenges to produce sufficient work experiences for their students. To address these shortages two innovative institutions have turned their focus inwards.

Ryerson University turns jobs of necessity into valuable professional development

Although most students see on-campus jobs as merely opportunities to make money, Ryerson University saw greater untapped potential. Through their ‘Career Boost’ program, Ryerson turned these work experiences into valuable preparation for students’ careers by developing desired learning outcomes and then aligning on-campus job responsibilities.


“This whole system is designed to help students understand that their on-campus job—even with occasional mundanity—is actually directly related to their employability after graduation. The learning domains, and this exercise, help students practice to articulate their skills to prospective employers.”

-John Austin, Executive Director of Student Affairs, Ryerson University

First, staff established the ten most essential skills for student employees to gain by researching student development theory, higher education standards, and employer surveys. Career Centre staff then met with each college’s student employee supervisors to explain the skills and help map them to existing job descriptions, or if necessary, write new job descriptions.

In response to employer feedback, Ryerson also recently developed a “Cross-Campus Induction Day,” an orientation that guarantees all student workers start with a strong understanding of appropriate office behavior, work-place diversity and inclusion, and how their on-campus job will prepare them for their future career. Student employers have found that the program improves punctuality, overall professionalism, productivity, and the quality of student employee work.

Western Oregon University's on-campus internship program

Beyond traditional student employment, colleges and universities are also able to offer substantive, paid internships on campus—providing dozens of new experiential learning opportunities, particularly beneficial for students who may be place-bound or unable to find external openings. The Service Learning and Career Development Office at Western Oregon University (WOU) has partnered with administrative units and departments to develop paid, on-campus internships complete with learning outcomes, assessment, and reflection free of charge to the partner unit.

Western Oregon University

Interns work in a variety of campus units, which are required to detail learning objectives, job responsibilities, and relevant assignments in proposals to the Service Learning and Career Development Office. At a cost of $1,000 per student (interns are paid $10 per hour, for 10 hours per week, over a 10-week period), WOU has been able to offer 32 competitive internships within their own institution.

All applicants to the program must also complete a pre-professional skills and internship prep workshop and they are encouraged to complete a resume review with career services staff. In addition, every applicant gets a first-round interview. So while only 32 students received internships in 2016, 110 students received structured career development, and will be stronger applicants to jobs in the future.

WOU Community Internship Application Process

Internship Program

3 things leaders need to make their boldest initiatives turn out successfully

February 21, 2018

Amazon founder and chief executive, Jeff Bezos, just undertook an ambitious project to provide better health care, Justin Bariso writes for Inc. Magazine.

The American health care system is notoriously difficult and complex, but Bezos says success only requires three things: talent, a learner's mindset, and a long-term outlook.

Bariso, who was named one of LinkedIn's top management voices in 2016, argues that Bezos' simple words offer a foolproof formula for success. He explains how Bezos' formula lays down the groundwork to tackle any challenge.

1: Assemble a team of top performers

The stakes are high for hiring high-potential employees. Talented new hires are not only faster and less costly to onboard, but research has found that star employees are also more productive and less stressed out than their peers.

But staffing a team with industry experts isn't enough to reach your goals—you need to ensure that your star employees can work together, Bariso writes. Emotional intelligence is key to a productive team, he adds. Strong interpersonal skills will help your team handle pressure, build cooperative working relationships, and drive the organization towards success, according to a 2017 article in Harvard Business Review.

Another way to make your team smarter: Add more women

2: Adopt a growth mindset

High-performing teams are eager to learn new things and experiment, Bariso writes. If your team isn't focused on growth, they may get stuck in outdated constraints, he adds. Leaders can foster risk-taking and innovation by listening to employees' ideas and making them feel that their suggestions are valuable, recommends Marti Wolf, chief culture officer at MailChimp.

3: Play the long game

Rome wasn't built in a day—and your challenges won't be solved in a day, either, Bariso writes. Building your resilience, however, can help you stay motivated to cross that finish line. One way to improve your resilience is to reflect on ways that you've already been resilient in the past, says Meg Jay, a clinical psychologist (Bariso, Inc. Magazine, 2/15; Business Wire release, 2/15).

Want to be a senior leader? Work on this one habit

5 worst pieces of career advice students hear from their parents

February 21, 2018

Parents try to be helpful during students' job searches, but their advice is often outdated, says Allison Green, the human resources expert who runs the popular "Ask a Manager" blog.

In a recent interview with Quartz, Green identified some of the most common pieces of outdated career advice students hear from their parents and other sources.

1: On resumes

Outdated advice: Print it out on nice paper and hand-deliver it to the office.

A better approach: Nearly all applications are managed electronically these days, so a printed resume makes the applicant appear out-of-touch, Green says. Moreover, circumventing the established system is more likely to make an employer feel hassled than impressed.

10 ways for students to translate academic experiences into resume-speak

2: On cover letters

Outdated advice: Don't explain your qualifications. Instead, explain how you'll solve the hiring manager's problems.

A better approach: As an outsider applying to an organization, it's nearly impossible to guess what the hiring manager's biggest problems are, Green notes. So most applicants that attempt to do this will end up "cringingly off base," she writes. Instead of guessing at specific problems, applicants should explain why they'd excel at the responsibilities outlined in the job posting.

3: On waiting to hear back

Outdated advice: Call to follow up about your application several times to show persistence.

A better approach: Green says she's heard all manner of suggestions for showing "gumption" to an employer, from calling repeatedly about the status of the position to inviting the hiring manager out for coffee. But, she says, none of these tactics work. Though it's tough waiting to hear back from a job, it's much worse if an applicant's anxiety drives them to do something that could actually hurt their chances, she says.

3 tools to prepare graduating students for the job search

4: On interviewing

Outdated advice: If the interviewer asks about salary expectations, change the topic by saying you'd prefer to discuss the responsibilities of the role.

A better approach: Applicants should enter every job interview with a salary range in mind, says Green. Online tools can help students research a reasonable salary based on comparable positions in the same local area.

5: On getting your foot in the door

Outdated advice: You can't pay off your student loans with that salary! You have a degree, you should demand a promotion or find a new job.

A better approach: Green says she's seen parents underestimate how challenging today's labor market can be for entry-level workers, then push their children into hasty decisions. But entry-level positions that seem unimpressive now can be the first step to better jobs in the student's chosen field. The most common first job for the world's billionaires is salesperson, according to a 2017 report (Green, U.S. News & World Report, 4/3/17; Green, U.S. News & World Report, 8/3/15; Purtill, Quartz, 2/15).

See the hottest jobs, skills, and employers in your state

This fraternity's facilities went alcohol-free. Here’s their advice for colleges.

February 21, 2018

Kathleen Escarcha, staff writerKathleen Escarcha, staff writer

Last November, Sigma Phi Epsilon (SigEp) announced a substance-free facilities policy for all fraternity facilities throughout its network of 212 chapters at colleges and universities across the United States.

We spoke with SigEp's chief executive, Brian Warren, to discuss how they are implementing the policy and their advice for any colleges who are considering a similar change. Responses have been edited for length and clarity.

Alcohol abuse has been an ongoing issue for many college campuses. Why did SigEp adopt a substance-free policy now?

This was a continuation of other recent policy changes we've made to keep our members safe while providing them an invaluable experience. It was a data-driven decision. Previously, 75 of our chapters had decided to become substance-free. When we compared the performance between our substance-free chapters and those that were not, it was clear that the substance-free chapters had higher academic performance, higher retention rates, and fewer student safety incidents.

In our most recent legislative meeting, our undergraduate legislative body wanted to take a bold stand and voted to adopt a fraternity-wide substance-free facilities policy.

How did you communicate these changes to current students, alumni, and administrators?

We first prepared our student leaders to communicate the change to their members. We then reached out to our higher ed partners, including fraternity advisors and university presidents, to explain what the policy entailed.

How are you working with higher ed administrators to implement the change on campus?

We have consultants who sit down with student affairs administrators on each campus. In these meetings, we discuss the new policy, how they can notify us of any policy misalignment on their campus, and how we can work together to intervene.  

Also see: How to support professional development for student leaders

What challenges have you encountered when implementing the policy on campus?

Some students worry that following the substance-free facilities policy will make them different and less accepted among their peers. To help our students feel more confident, we host leadership workshops to teach them how to lead their chapter through the transition and how to recruit under these new expectations.

We also point students to specific staff members they can contact to discuss transition issues or report policy violations without fear of penalty.

How do you communicate with students or alumni who worry that a substance-free policy will change the college experience?

We focus on what matters most—student safety and student success. When you consider the number of fraternity closures and student deaths in the past year alone, it becomes clear to most alumni that a substance-free facilities policy not only keeps our members safe, but also helps us prepare them for careers after graduation.

Career preparedness is an important issue for many our members. How does the new policy help you prepare students for post-graduation life?

Under the substance-free facilities policy, our students are being more creative and proactive about their recruitment and programming strategy. We don't do "rush week," so they're recruiting year-round. Through that, they're learning valuable business development and communication skills they can take into the workplace. Their future employer won't focus on growth two weeks of the year and higher education shouldn't instill that mentality.

Related: Three tools to prepare graduating students for the job search

Have you noticed any changes in recruitment or professional outcomes since the policy change?

The fraternity-wide policy adoption is relatively new, so we don't have hard numbers yet. Moving forward, we’re enlisting the help of an outside, unbiased firm to assess the policy's effect on our members' academic performance and professional outcomes.

What advice do you have for higher ed administrators or other college groups considering a substance-free policy?

Ultimately, going substance-free is an issue of student success and student safety. Administrators who are interested in encouraging other organizations on campus to adopt a substance-free facilities policy don’t have to rely on costly rewards.

A dinner with the college president or student affairs leader to celebrate the substance-free facilities policy gives students a special experience they'll remember long after they graduate. Or administrators could make a substance-free policy a prerequisite before a fraternity or sorority house is a recognized student organization on campus.

Keep reading: 3 ways to make your alcohol policy education more effective

"It's been extremely hard to concentrate": How the 2016 election affected students

February 21, 2018

You may feel stressed out about the current political climate—and it's likely that your students do, too.

About 86% of students felt emotionally strained and 20% felt physically distressed by the 2016 presidential election, according to a study published in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health (CAPMH).

Researchers from the University of Michigan surveyed 80 Americans between the ages of 14 to 24 at three points before and after the 2016 presidential election. Respondents answered open-ended questions via text message about their emotional and physical reaction to the election.

The majority of respondents reported physical or emotional distress during all three points, Melissa DeJonckheere and Tammy Chang, two lead authors of the study, write in The Conversation.

While the most commonly reported symptoms were anxiety and stress, some respondents also reported difficulty concentrating and nausea, the authors write. More than half of respondents continued to feel negative symptoms four months after the election.

White respondents were more likely to report negative symptoms than non-white respondents, and female participants were more likely to experience an emotional response than their male counterparts, DeJonckheere and Chang write.

Why students are flooding counseling centers: We told them too

As one 22-year old commented, "[i]t's been extremely hard to concentrate." Another 23-year old student admitted that the election "made [her] feel more overwhelmed with [her] responsibilities with school and work." Other respondents reported fearing potential discrimination and violence.

Young people may be more vulnerable to the constant barrage of political news and hate speech because they're "the most connected generation," the authors write. Respondents may also feel anxious because the issues they report caring about, such as immigration and women's rights, "have been the targets of political change," they add.

To help students cope with the aftermath of the election, offer opportunities for reflection and recovery, recommends Liz Brown, a student affairs expert at EAB. On-call counselors and facilitated group dialogues can connect students with campus resources and like-minded peers to process how to move forward. It's also important to make these same resources available to faculty, staff, and administrators—particularly those in student-facing positions, Brown writes.

As anxiety and depression continue to rise among students, campus leaders should create spaces for thoughtful discussion and encourage students to volunteer for causes they care about, DeJonckheere and Chang recommend (DeJonckheere/Chang, The Conversation, 2/14; CAPMH report, accessed 2/14).

Keep reading: 3 steps to support students post-election

Students make mistakes in their academic planning, but you can get them back on track

Best practice from the Academic Affairs Forum

February 20, 2018

Graduation delays often result from preventable academic missteps made early in a student’s career. Many universities do not have the advising resources necessary to meet face to face with students each semester and ensure that they are taking the shortest path to their degree. Students who fall behind are forced to extend their stay in college, leading to frustration, adding to total cost, and decreasing the odds that they will stay in school long enough to finish.

To improve timely graduation, some schools are mandating that all departments provide students with clear semester-by-semester guides to degree completion. These “degree maps” show students the proper timing and progression of required major and general education courses. Students are encouraged to fulfill major and general education requirements early, allowing flexibility later for a semester abroad or a double major. Degree maps can be made the centerpiece of an advising conversation or they can help students self-advise in the absence of a face-to-face meeting.

Publish all degree maps in a common format on a central website to allow for ease of student use. At the University of Florida and Florida State University, all degree maps are collected together in a common format hosted on the website of the university registrar. The centralized location makes it easy for students and other stakeholders to locate and review degree maps from different departments. In addition to the prescribed course progressions, the UF and FSU departments use their degree map pages as an opportunity to deliver generalized advising on minors, research opportunities, careers, and other information pertinent to the major.

However, even with the guidance of a degree map, a significant number of students will go off-course in their first two years. These students are often struggling in their first choice major and need to move to a “Plan B” major as soon as possible to avoid further delays in graduation.

UF and FSU are using advising staff to intervene with off-course students by building mandatory milestones into their degree maps. Each semester, students in all majors must complete specified courses and attain prescribed minimum GPAs. Missed milestones result in a registration hold that is lifted only after the student meets with an academic advisor. Advisors have the option of forcibly reassigning students who repeatedly miss milestones. The milestone system allows these universities to focus their limited advising resources on the students most in need of assistance.

Departments should define milestones based on historical patterns of success in the major. For a gateway class, departments should set the milestone according to the semester by which past experience shows that the majority of successful students have completed the course. For GPA milestones in limited access majors, departments should consider the threshold GPA necessary in each semester to be on track for entry into the upper division.

Students take fewer “wasted” courses when exposed to a milestone system. Not all of Florida State’s departments had finalized their milestones when the university’s system debuted in 2002, creating a de facto control group of students for comparing the impact of the initiative. FSU has found students in milestone majors graduated with an average of seven fewer credits than their peers, reducing their cost and time in college by more than two courses.

See the study for more information and examples of degree maps with milestones
(Available only to Academic Affairs Forum members)