When Trudy Van Zee was appointed associate vice provost for Career and Professional Success (CaPS), she had already hit the ground running.
That’s because before assuming her new role in January, she served in an interim capacity, putting her career planning expertise to work implementing UNH’s vision for integrating career preparation with all aspects of a UNH education, as detailed in a report by the Curran Consulting Group.
Amidst national conversations on return-on-investment for higher education and what employers are seeking from college graduates, Van Zee explains that CaPS is working to make sure UNH students are prepared.
“We’re trying to get them to the point where they are as competitive as possible, regardless of their pursuits,” she explains.
CaPS has teams in each UNH college for the first time. They provide students with specific career advising and work with faculty, staff and potential employers to offer students opportunities.
“Having the teams in the colleges has accelerated our progress against the Curran report recommendations,” Van Zee says. “They are physically located in the colleges, where they are accessible to students, building relationships with faculty and staff and immersing themselves into the cultures.”
During her time as interim associate vice provost, Van Zee went right to work with her team to identify strategic objectives that spoke to the essence of the vision outlined in the report. Last summer and fall, they undertook a rigorous process to understand the state of career services and to learn from other universities.
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The next UNH Career and Internship Fair is coming up on March 1 at the Whittemore Center.
“It was a really good first step, because as we began our efforts, we formed working committees around key questions about where we are and where we want to go in keeping with the strategic assessment in the Curran report,” Van Zee recalls. “We pulled together as a team. Everyone got to weigh in and be a part of the decisions of how we would operate anew.”
CaPS continues to build on that start.
“We want to widen and deepen our opportunities for our students with internships and jobs,” Van Zee explains.
CaPS has been working on better programming for students with greater appreciation for the uniqueness of student needs in the individual colleges and more support and resources for one-on-one and group advising. “We need to imbue career preparedness into the culture and integrate it with the academic experience. CaPS will be at its very, very best when it’s owned by the entire university — a natural part of how we interact with our students on a regular basis.”
The key, Van Zee says, is to turn that lofty goal into a reality at the operational level.
“There continues to be a lot of work on strategy around institutional partnerships and how technology is going to power our model and our success,” she explains. “We want to equip all students with the career preparedness skills, knowledge and experiences to thrive in an ever-changing future.”