University makes career prep a top priority

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Eighty-six percent of college freshmen say a key reason for attending college is to land a better job. But in today’s competitive job market, landing a position requires more than a check in the “degree” box. From the first impression (the cover letter) to the final interview follow-through (the thank you note), today’s candidates need to be impeccably prepared with a résumé rife with experience and the soft skills to match. 

That’s why UNH is making career preparation a top priority. Earlier this year, President Mark Huddleston enlisted the higher education experts at Curran Consulting Group to evaluate the effectiveness of UNH’s current career prep services for students. This spring, Curran conducted more than 50 stakeholder interviews and reviewed a mountain of career-related written materials that various UNH units distribute to students and employers, compiling its findings and recommendations in a report released to the university community on June 10.

Among its many recommendations, the report calls for the university to more closely align its career service offerings and hire new leadership to direct the universitywide effort. The report also calls for UNH to employ technologies that will allow for a more personalized career prep experience for students.

A UNH career and internship fair
A career and internship fair at UNH

Senior vice provost for academic affairs P.T. Vasudevan notes that while not all of Curran’s recommendations may be implemented, a new task force established to digest the report will thoughtfully consider each of them. The Professional Success Strategic Planning Task Force, which includes representatives from the student body, faculty senate, alumni relations, human resources, academic technology and other campus entities, will pore over the Curran report this summer and host a series of discussions to gather information from UNH alumni, parents and employers. Insights gleaned from these discussions will inform the task force’s own report and recommendations, which will be released later this fall.

Vasudevan, who co-chairs the task force with vice president of advancement Debbie Dutton, has high hopes the overall effort will result in a higher internship placement success rate among UNH graduate and undergraduate students and a higher job placement rate among all graduates. He’s also bullish about building stronger partnerships with industry. “They will see that at UNH, not only are we serious about providing a great education, we’re serious about making sure our graduates are ready for the workplace in the ways today’s employers want them to be.”

That means great communications skills, critical thinking abilities and the capacity to apply knowledge to real-world tasks, according to the results of a Hart Research Associates survey published earlier this year that revealed most employers feel recent college graduates lack these essentials.

“We want to be a national leader in preparing students for success in their lives after college,” Vasudevan says. “We have a great opportunity here to make sure the maximum number of students succeed. I think this is going to be huge for UNH.”

Curran Report Executive Summary